Harris H. Kim, Edward O. Laumann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this chapter, we show how embedded social relations affect economic transactions and intraprofessional stratification in the market for legal services. We argue that networks are critical in fostering individual upward mobility not only because they provide valuable information to ego (lawyer) but also because they function as a crucial mechanism by which the focal actor's (lawyer's) status is transmitted to outside alters (clients). Consistent with Podolny's (1993) general theoretical statement, we claim that ties to prestigious network partners send positive signals concerning the ability and trustworthiness of legal professionals. That is, networks help reduce the information asymmetries faced by potential buyers concerning the actual (unknowable) quality of legal services. Our argument is that, in doing so, the network-embedded status of lawyers serves to contribute to their earnings. We demonstrate this point empirically by examining how networks relate to the process of income attainment among a random sample of lawyers in Chicago (1995).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Governance of Relations in Markets and Organizations
PublisherJAI Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)0762310057, 9780762310050
StatePublished - 2003

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
ISSN (Print)0733-558X

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data analyzed in this chapter come from face-to-face interviews with a 1995 probability sample of all lawyers practicing in the city of Chicago. The names of the respondents were obtained from the state’s official list of licensed lawyers, who are required to register with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, an agency under the supervision of the Illinois Supreme Court. This survey was funded by the American Bar Foundation in order to examine the changes in the overall social structure of the Chicago bar, by comparing it to the earlier one taken in 1975 analyzed and reported by Heinz and Laumann (1982) .

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the Stratification Workshop, University of Chicago. We thank Ross Stolzenberg, the coordinator, and other members of the Workshop for their constructive comments. This research was funded by the American Bar Foundation. We acknowledge John Heinz and Robert Nelson for their support and encouragement. The helpful feedback on earlier drafts from the editors of this volume is also gratefully recognized.


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