Instituttlunsj: Norwegian Lawyers and Political Mobilisation: 1623-2015
Nyansatte førsteamanuensis Malcolm Langford innleder. Instituttleder Ulf Stridbeck leder lunsjen.
Malcolm Langford. Foto: UiO.
Do Norwegian lawyers mobilise simply to enhance their privileges and prestige? Or do they also engage in collective action for more noble ends? Contrary to materialist approaches, the theory of the ‘legal complex’ predicts that the legal profession will struggle as an entity for the rule of law and core civil rights (‘political liberalism’). However, this presents a paradox for the Nordic countries. Lawyers are not especially visible in the public sphere yet political liberalism is more deeply entrenched than elsewhere. If correct, this suggests either a case of Nordic exceptionalism or a problematic theory.
This paper focuses on Norway. Beginning with the emergence of lawyers in the 1600s, it traces the legal profession’s engagement with the development and defence of political liberalism. This is complemented by a quantitative content analysis of interventions by the Advokatforeningen. The paper argues that the results in comparative perspective should prompt us to rethink legal complex theory. The legal profession will only mobilise broadly for political liberalism when:
(1) committed individual lawyers are able to overcome collective action dilemmas in the profession and
(2) lawyer-centric forms of mobilisation are viewed as less costly or more appropriate than the alternatives.