Catalonia’s Advocates: Lawyers, Society, and Politics in Barcelona, 1759-1900

Stephen Jacobson.

Published 2009. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3297-4.

Offering a window into the history of the modern legal profession in Western Europe, Stephen Jacobson presents a history of lawyers in the most industrialized city on the Mediterranean. Far from being mere curators of static law, Barcelona’s lawyers were at the center of social conflict and political and economic change, mediating between state, family, and society. Beginning with the resurrection of a decadent bar during the Enlightenment, Jacobson traces the historical evolution of lawyers throughout the long nineteenth century. Among the issues he explores are the attributes of the modern legal profession, how lawyers engaged with the Enlightenment, how they molded events in the Age of Revolution and helped consolidate a liberal constitutional order, why a liberal profession became conservative and corporatist, and how lawyers promoted fin-de-siècle nationalism. From the vantage point of a city with a distinguished legal tradition, Catalonia’s Advocates provides fresh insight into European social and legal history; the origins of liberal professionalism; education, training, and the practice of law in the nineteenth century; the expansion of continental bureaucracies; and the corporatist aspects of modern nationalism.


“Charts new terrain and offers a new perspective on the relationship between nationalism and the law.”
– H-Urban Reviews

“Meticulously researched. . . . As the first social history of a continental bar, Jacobson’s study has much to offer those legal scholars, sociologists, and historians. . . . Will undoubtedly serve as a model for future efforts to analyze the role of professional groups–lawyers, in particular–during the ‘bourgeois’ century.”
– Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“A painstakingly researched and admirably written account of the development of a profession, which provides a convenient case study of the European bar.”
– Journal of Law and History Review

“[Jacobson] provides compelling evidence for his case for the superiority of a historical over a functionalist approach to the study of the Bar.”
– English Historical Review

“Original and informative. . . . A vivid picture of the variety of social circumstances and professional opportunities that conditioned the life of lawyers in Barcelona.”
– American Historical Review

“Catalonia’s Advocates is an impressive piece of scholarship argued with intellectual sophistication; it is meticulously researched, well organized and clearly written….Jacobson has written an innovative and challenging book that will change the way we think about the historical function of professional groups in `modern history.”
– Social History
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