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Misconduct by lawyers in law firms is often attributed to pressures from increasing competition for legal services. Modern firms do face fierce competitive pressures. We can gain more subtle insights, however, by focusing on the specific markets in which particular firms operate and the ways in which forms of influence in law firms interact with common patterns of behavior in organizations.

This paper, a chapter in the collection Law Firms, Legal Culture, and Legal Practice, draws on this type of analytical framework to provide a case study of the experience of Jenkens & Gilchrist, a national law firm that had to close its doors in 2007 because of tax shelter work that triggered civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution of three of its partners. It suggests that those of us who study the legal profession need to attend closely to how law firm culture is created, transmitted, interpreted, contested, and revised in the context of specific competitive markets. This analysis can help us develop a conceptual middle ground between the broad claim that business pressures now exert significant influence on law firm behavior, and the assumption that every unhappy law firm is unhappy in its own way.

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52 Studies in Law, Politics and Society: Law Firms, Legal Culture, and Legal Practice 107-144 (Austin Sarat ed., Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press 2010)