Publication Date


Document Type


Organizational Units

Sturm College of Law


Professional identity, Corporate law practice, Chinese civic professionalism, Legal education, Empirical legal studies, Law and society


Through their professional education and training, new lawyers are generally encouraged to adopt a civic vision of professional identity. This article explores convergences and diverges in how new lawyers entering an increasingly globalized legal profession conceive of their civic roles in different national contexts. In particular, I examine corporate lawyers-in-training in the U.S. and China, drawing on interviews and a cross-cultural identity mapping method to compare their accounts of the lived experiences of civic professionalism. I find that professional identity formation in the U.S. sample is largely marked by role distancing and a sense of constrained public-interest expression. In contrast, Chinese respondents generally identified strongly with their civic roles, while framing their public contributions in pragmatic, state-aligned terms. I conclude with a comparative analysis of young lawyers’ bottom-up efforts to expand their civic impact.

Publication Statement

This article has been published in a revised form in Law and Social Inquiry, as John Bliss, Becoming Global Lawyers? A Comparative Study of Civic Professionalism, 46(3) LAW & SOC. INQUIRY 1 (2021), available at This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.

Previous Versions

Oct 28 2021