The importance of university attended and degree subject: a comparison of the background of lawyers in England and Germany
Thursday, 12 January 2017 | Admin
by Anna Mountford-Zimdars (Kings' College London) and John Flood (Griffith University)
This paper explores the relationship between legal practice and type of university attended and degree course studied for English and German lawyers. For England, some of the analysis is only based on data for barristers. We find that university attended matters a great deal for English barristers if they tend to have graduated from elite universities within the stratified British higher education system. In contrast, the flat German higher education system is also mirrored in the profile of lawyers, where graduates in the top jobs come from a wide range of institutions. For Germany, attainment at university and graduating in law are keys to unlocking elite positions whereas the status of university seems second to none in the British system, trumping having studied law as a first degree. The paper thus empirically confirms anecdotal insights that knowledge and skills directly related to law matters more for early career entry in Germany and generic skills and socialisation at elite universities matters more for transitioning into elite legal employment in England. It is unclear from the available data whether the different structures mean that the social make-up of the legal professions differs, but it is clear that different ways of accessing this key profession operate in the two contexts.