Understanding Legal Antenarratives

Majella O'Leary, Kim Economides

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


    How should one understand and interpret the stories that lawyers tell? In this chapter we extrapolate methodological lessons arising out of our previous research investigating stories that reveal latent ethical dilemmas in legal organizations (Economides & O’Leary, 2007). Lawyers’ narrative accounts may appear superfi cial, fragmented, or inconclusive because often there is no resolution of underlying tensions that underpin professional and business conduct. As social scientists interested in collecting and analyzing qualitative data, we have become increasingly drawn to narrative analysis. The explanatory power of stories and narrative knowledge in the wider study of contemporary organizations has been well documented, but these resources remain underutilized in studies of legal professionalism. Brown, Gabriel, and Gherardi (2009, p. 1) link narrative with organizational research, arguing that stories often contain moral judgments, are replete with deeper meaning, and frequently elicit strong emotional reactions. There is now a well-established traditionof research on narrative and storytelling in organizations (see, e.g., Boje, 1991, 1995, 2001, 2008; Currie & Brown, 2003; Czarniawska, 1997, 1998; Gabriel, 1991, 1995, 2000; Humphreys & Brown, 2002; Watson, 2000). Despite this progress, legal scholarship has concentrated narrative analysis on literary jurisprudence, with a few ethnographic studies using conversational analysis to explain relations between lawyers and their clients, both in court and in law offi ces. So far as we are aware, we are the fi rst research team to apply narrative methods to legal and ethical decision making within the provincial law firm.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationStorytelling and the Future of Organizations
    Subtitle of host publicationAn Antenarrative Handbook
    PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781136823770
    ISBN (Print)9780415873918
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


    Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding Legal Antenarratives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this