Shadowing the Bar

Studying an English Professional Elite

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques

Once the most easily recognizable status profession, the barristers' profession or the Bar is now faced with new regulatory demands, sources of competition and commercial pressures and can, to some extent, be regarded as a contested elite. With methodology at the core of the analysis, this paper addresses the complexities of identifying and studying an historically elite group, especially when, during the research, one is being gently socialized into the ways of the group. In the process, this paper illuminates many of the norms, rituals, and social and psychological dynamics of the Bar, a group aware of its changing position and the threats and opportunities this poses.