CE41 - Inégalités, discriminations, migrations

Access to Justice and Defense before High Courts. A collective history of French High Court Lawyers – Avoconseils

Submission summary

Studies on inequalities in access to the law and to justice have always neglected access to the French high courts (Conseil d'Etat, Cour de Cassation), which have nevertheless been the source of major decisions in the development of French law. "Avocats aux conseils" have had a monopoly on representation before these courts since the Ancien Régime. A prosopography of these lawyers and their offices over the long term and a systematic study of the discourses and modes of regulation of the profession will shed light on the mechanisms of access to the highest French courts. By studying a corpus of digitized decisions, we will be able to link decisions to the lawyers involved in the case, thus enabling us to highlight specializations.

The question of access to this profession (and its few offices) as well as to these professionals is at the heart of old controversies--about the monopoly itself and the lawyers' fees--that we will uncover and analyze. Studying mechanisms such as the "commission d'office" or legal aid, we will describe how these procedures that are supposed to facilitate access to these lawyers actually work. A more precise analysis of appeals by foreigners before the Council of State from 1945 to 2001 will allow us to test the interest of mobilising knowledge of the profession as a whole to better situate cases and their defenders, while targeting a type of litigation that is particularly likely to reveal issues of discrimination and access to the law and justice.

This project will thus contribute to a sociology of access to the law and to rights, of practices of the rule of law, of the capacity to obtain justice, as well as to a historical sociology of elites (and therefore of inequalities), through the analysis of a regulated profession over a long period.

Project coordination

Liora Israel (Centre Maurice Halbwachs)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CMH Centre Maurice Halbwachs
CSO Centre de sociologie des organisations

Help of the ANR 200,997 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: October 2021 - 36 Months

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