A Reading of Sacks' 'Lawyer's Work' as an Invitation to Ethnomethodological Studies of Work


  • Nozomi Ikeya Keio University




"Lawyer's Work" is a draft paper written by Harvey Sacks. It was not published before Sacks passed away in 1975, but later was included in a collection titled Law in Action. I will make an attempt to reconstruct a research program Sacks envisaged in this paper. Focusing on the lawyer's work, Sacks can be said to have been considering a way of conducting research on legal professionals' work. This turns out to be akin to a program Harold Garfinkel was thinking through in the later stages of his career as we can witness in Ethnomethodological Studies of Work and Ethnomethodology's Program. In order to show this, in reference to ethnomethodological studies of work Garfinkel presented in his later career, I will, throughout this paper, try to present what Sacks envisaged as a research program of legal professionals' work. I first attempt to convey my understanding of what Sacks argued in his draft paper. Secondly, I explore some related themes presented by a sociologist of law, Eugen Ehrlich, and try to establish the relationship between the arguments of Ehrlich and Sacks on sociological observation of law. This is expected to reveal what Sacks was trying to do by transforming some of the inquiries Ehrlich was engaged into an ethnomethodological ones, i.e., treating the problem as practitioners' practical problems. Here we can see a vision Sacks had, which we now as "respecification of concepts". Thirdly, I will discuss some implications of Sacks' paper to the program of ethnomethodological studies of work by exploring the relationship between the research programs of Sacks and Garfinkel.