In this short essay the author sets out to demonstrate the relevance of the sociological perspective in examining the role of legal professions and shed light on the somewhat neglected field of legal sociology. In this regard there are valuable historical analogies to draw on, but the new democracies of Central Europe also constitute a rich field of research for exploring this role. Given that constitutional institutions in this region still suffer from a poor level of legitimacy and the effects of a pre-democratic cultural background, the impact that professional legal actors, as active agents, have on the rule of law and democracy can be of exceptional significance. In newly established legal traditions, law-makers become the architects of the emerging democracy. In some cases, however, this historical role is encumbered by an etatist, pre-democratic value system, which is the legacy of forty years of state socialism.
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