1. bookVolume 59 (2019): Issue 1 (September 2019)
Journal Details
First Published
08 Aug 2013
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

Law for Elites

Published Online: 10 Jan 2020
Page range: 47 - 68
Journal Details
First Published
08 Aug 2013
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

It has been claimed that to fully understand the law, one must know the language of normative texts and the relevant rules governing its use. It usually means that normative texts do not seem to be comprehensible enough to persons without formal legal training. In an on-going research project, we are focusing on the process of writing texts of legal regulations, conducting semi-structured interviews with those involved in drafting normative texts. In this paper, we focus on lawyers as a speech community of legal language speakers and we discuss why and to what extent this speech community may be considered an elite in a society. We show that competent usage of special – legal – language in regulating the whole society may help create a special group of persons wielding an important segment of cultural capital: the knowledge of legal language, and, in consequence, competent knowledge of law. Given the fact that this language is used to exercise (legal) power in a society, lawyers appear to be in the advantageous position of an elite. We argue that those who draft new legal texts reproduce writing rules and customs, constantly re-creating legal language as a language mostly incomprehensible to a non-competent speaker, and, in consequence, creating lawyers as an elite speech community.


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