Erin Poland

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Joan Krenzin, Stephen Groce, James Grimm


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Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Fifteen lawyers were asked a series of questions pertaining to their life experiences as members of the legal profession, including questions regarding how the lawyers felt they were viewed by society. Past research suggested that factors such as advertising, frivolous lawsuits, and historical events may be variables responsible for a negative perception of lawyer. Erving Goffan’s theory of stigma, coupled with labeling theory, social exchange, and, conflict theory helped to explain the process of occupationism (the bias against someone based solely on one’s occupation). Each lawyer interviewed gave reasons for becoming involved in the profession. Some were surprised by the criticism associated with the legal field. It was found that lawyers are aware of the negative perception their title holds. Lawyers are often regretful for this negativity. The findings of this study include ideas that the interviewees developed that may help to improve the perception of the legal profession.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology