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The Lure of the Law for the Formerly Convicted: Pursuing the Legal Profession as a Resistance Strategy

Despite prior negative experiences with the law and licensure barriers, individuals with conviction histories are increasingly seeking entry into the legal profession. To understand their unique educational journeys from a joint stigma and legal consciousness perspective, we ...

Published onMar 27, 2023
The Lure of the Law for the Formerly Convicted: Pursuing the Legal Profession as a Resistance Strategy
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Abstract

Despite prior negative experiences with the law and licensure barriers, individuals with conviction histories are increasingly seeking entry into the legal profession. To understand their unique educational journeys from a joint stigma and legal consciousness perspective, we conducted in-depth interviews with prospective, current, and former law students with criminal convictions. Findings reveal that early disadvantage and subsequent system involvement provided them with valuable insights into their place in the carceral system. This realization prompted empathy for similarly situated others, a desire to pursue social justice reform, and the deliberate choice to access the power of law to that end. Thus, rather than averting people from the profession, a conviction history can serve as a driving force for pursuing a career in law.

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