The chapter studies social capital development and application among highly educated Turkish second generation working in the law sector in Paris. Previously we have demonstrated how social capital was a crucial resource in the professional pathways of Turkish second generation lawyers in Sweden, the Netherlands, France and Germany. In this chapter we take our inquiry a step further analyzing the strong and weak ties that descendants of migrants relied upon in their professional pathways. We use biographical interviews conducted with descendants of migrants in France in which they explicate their entire educational and professional trajectories. We concentrate on Turkish second generation with low-educated parents hence young people who did not receive direct professional resources from their parents.
We see for this group the development of professional networks already begins in tertiary education and continues into their labour market careers. The paper aims to make contributions to several strands of the literature. Firstly, it contributes to the debate on temporality of networks by showing how distinct forms of social capital became crucial in different phases of their careers and how they relied on both weak and strong ties strategically to overcome the glass ceilings in their sectors and move upwards in their pathways. Secondly, we aim to problematize the concepts of “strong” and “weak” ties in relation to their ethnic connotations. Our study shows that second generation lawyers were able to develop relations of trust with their so-called “weak ties” while the ethnic “strong ties” represented useful clientele.
- Turkish second generation
- Strong ties
- Weak ties
- Social capital
- Ethnic lens
- Law sector
There is an extended literature on the significance of migrants’ social networks in assisting their labour market incorporation (Portes, 1998; Zhou, 2005; Behtoui, 2007, 2008; Ryan et al., 2008; Ryan, 2011; Lancee, 2010; Kalter & Kogan, 2014). There is evidence that migrants can benefit from the existing networks of their ethnic communities as new-comers to the societies since they may lack certain resources such as language proficiency or educational qualifications which may not be recognized or valued upon arrival (Ryan, 2011; Kalter & Kogan, 2014). Yet such networks are also criticized for impeding upward mobility due to the ethnic group’s pressure to control the migrants’ activities (Portes, 1998) or they may not connect the migrants to high level jobs (Kalter & Kogan, 2014) leading to lower wage returns (Behtoui, 2008). On the other hand social networks with the majority population is often seen as leading to positive labour market outcomes in terms of employment and income (Lancee, 2010; Kalter & Kogan, 2014).
The function and usage of social networks of the second generation in reaching successful labour market outcomes is less integrated in this literature. As descendants of migrants, the second generation occupies a unique position in terms of access to various forms of networks, both within the ethnic group from which they hail, as well as from the society in which they were born and raised. There is evidence that the ethnic community could form a source of social capital for second generation educational success (Bankston & Zhou, 1997; Modood, 2004; Zhou, 2005; Shah et al., 2010; Lee & Zhou, 2015). These studies are mostly concentrated on certain groups such as South Asian and Chinese ethnic communities in the US and in the U.K. Social networks with the majority group, usually termed as “ significant others” are also considered positively crucial for second generation mobility (Portes & Fernández-Kelly, 2008; Rezai, 2017). The role of social networks regarding labor market outcomes of the second generation is more mixed. Van Tran et al. (2019) show that the educational success of Asians and Chinese in the U.S. do not really translate into similar outcomes in the labour market. Chin (2016) talks about a bamboo ceiling and states that the Asian-Americans have the educational credentials but lack the significant social contacts in reaching senior positions. These findings point to the exclusionary working environment that second generation professionals find themselves in. Waldring et al. (2015) illustrated how subtle forms of discrimination in organizations continue to be a reality for second-generation professionals, even for those who are in leadership positions. Hence social network activities could be one way in which descendants of migrants try to overcome such barriers in their jobs. Yet, institutional racism and exclusion already can impede access to these social networks for the second generation, hindering them in mobilizing social capital, as shown by the example of Chin (2016).
All in all the evidence of second generation social capital is mixed and shows variation across ethnic groups and their class and resource composition (Portes & Fernández-Kelly, 2008; Lee & Zhou, 2015; Van Tran et al., 2019) but also across institutional contexts and employment sectors across different countries (Crul et al., 2017) as well as the status of employment that the second generation wants to attain (Shah et al., 2010).
In this chapter, we focus on highly-educated second-generation professionals working in the law sector in the Paris region. We use the data from the ELITES project where upwardly mobile Turkish second generation with low educated migrant parents were researched in four different countries (Crul et al., 2017). The ELITES study underlined the significance of institutional and sectoral conditions in the upward mobility patterns of the second generation and disclosed the forms of capital that employment sectors require for the occupational success second-generation high achievers (Keskiner & Crul, 2017). Rezai and her colleagues (2015) show how second-generation professionals rely on their low-educated parents’ emotional rather instrumental support both in their educational and labour market careers (see also Rezai and Keskiner in this volume). Waldring and her colleagues (2015) illustrate that despite achieving higher education degrees and leadership positions, second generation professionals still suffer from exclusion and subtle forms of discrimination. Konyali (2017) underlined how the highly educated second generation is able to “capitalize” on their ethnicity for their labour market success. Vermeulen and Keskiner (2017) have shown how ethnic organizations set up by the second generation in France and the Netherlands serve the purpose of bringing “like-minded” people together in creating bonding ties (p. 318). All these findings are in fact crucial to understand how the second generation can activate and access their social networks in their labour market pathways. In this chapter we study second generation lawyers who are newcomers in the law sector. During their journey, second-generation professionals’ usage of social networks appears to be intertwined with certain characteristics within their professional field (Keskiner & Crul, 2017; Waldring, 2017), hence we start by explaining the structure of the law sector as institutional structures are found to be crucial in defining the role of networks (Kalter & Kogan, 2014). Next we will look into how second generation law professionals alternate between strong and weak ties throughout their careers (Granovetter, 1973), hence pointing at the importance of temporality (Ryan et al., 2008; Ryan, 2011; Ryan & D’Angelo, 2018) in accessing different resources in the course of one’s career and life. There we bring a critique into the ethnic lens often used in classifying the social networks of migrants (Lancee, 2010), we question what is a weak and what is a strong tie based on the trust and resource embedded in these network ties. Furthermore we find “developing social capital as a resource” (Bourdieu, 1986; Keskiner & Crul, 2017; Keskiner, 2019), a useful approach in understanding the social capital of second generation lawyers.
3.2 Social Networks of Second Generation; Strong and/or Weak Ties and Temporality
The dichotomy between social networks with co-ethnics and the majority society has long dominated the discussion of migrants’ social networks. Putnam’s famous concepts of bridging and bonding capital have been popular in usage to understand social capital, where bridging capital is studied as connecting migrants outside of their migrant community and bonding capital as tying migrants within the ethnic community (Lancee, 2010; Kalter & Kogan, 2014). This approach also leads to comparing the uses of these networks, where bridging ties are often seen as more resourceful for labour market outcomes (Lancee, 2010), while bonding ties are seen to risk social control and closure (Portes, 1998). Yet this bonding versus bridging ties binary has been heavily criticized for generating a form of reductionism and forging a simplification of social ties. While individuals might simultaneously be members of different kind of networks, such network ties can encompass and lead to different forms of resources irrespective of their ethnic nature (Ryan, 2011; Geys & Murdoch, 2010, see the introduction chapter by Ryan et al.).
A similar dichotomy can also be traced in the second generation studies but it is less strict since the second generation, by their condition of being born and raised in host countries, are also embedded in complex networks compared to migrants. Studies of the South Asian and Chinese communities in the U.S. emphasized the resources and the culture of the ethnic community in assisting the educational trajectories of the second generation (Zhou, 2005). In her work on Chinatown in New York, Zhou (2005) talks about ‘interlocking network of ethnic relations’ within the Chinese community which encompasses both lower educated and higher educated migrants. Through involvement in various ethnic institutions, such as day-care, homework centers and religious organizations, migrant parents build, what Zhou (2005) calls “weak ties” within the ethnic community that bridges them to other co-ethnics from higher social strata allowing the flow of resources and information. Interestingly Zhou names ties with co-ethnics here not as strong but weak ties, since she points to a cross-class bridging role of networks. Based on their second-generation study in U.S., Portes and Fernández-Kelly (2008) talk about a “really significant other” that “possesses the knowledge and experience to guide” the educational or occupational decisions of the second generation. In their definition, this real significant other can be outside the ethnic community, such as a teacher or a counselor, but can also be a family member, like a cousin who has had experience in the education system before (Portes & Fernández-Kelly, 2008).
These studies by Zhou (2005), Portes and Fernández-Kelly (2008) applied a more nuanced understanding of strong and weak ties where they underline the significance of resources embedded in the social networks of the second generation rather than the “ethnic” nature of such networks. In his famous discussion of weak and strong ties, Granovetter (1973) underscores the importance of the nature of ties and the social distance they bind rather than the type of contact. He stresses the importance of weak ties bridging people across social strata. Hence if the tie connects someone with another person within their own social strata, the tie does not yield significant returns be it within or outside the ethnic community. Ryan (2011) developed Granovetter’s argument further by posing a distinction between vertical and horizontal ties. She shows that among highly skilled migrants weak ties that connect people to higher social strata, hence vertically, lead to flows of information and other resources, whereas weak ties present within the same social strata, hence horizontal, do not yield many returns (Ryan, 2011, p. 721).
Social ties are also dynamic and they may differ over time, hence temporally, but also spatially in the life course of individuals (Ryan et al., 2008). Ryan and her colleagues (2008) illustrate how networks with other migrants may be of use upon arrival but how different networks gain importance in the life course of the migrants. Van Tran and his colleagues (2019) have shown that the educational success of second generation Asian-Americans is not directly translated to their labour market outcomes and Chin (2016) argues that the ethnic networks that were of use in the educational success of the Chinese-American second generation are not instrumental later in their careers and they lack “social networks that would provide information about important projects, initiatives, opportunities and hidden rules of work” (p. 72). Studying the case of Sweden, Behtoui (see Behtoui in this book) suggests that newcomers to the labor market face certain barriers to enter significant networks. These examples underline the fact that social networks are not only “enablers” of social mobility but they are also exclusionary mechanisms, especially when they act like the “old boys’ club”, blocking those with a different ethnic or class background. In order to deal with such difficulties, second generation may turn to the networks in the ethnic community. Agius Vallejo (2012) illustrated the significance of ethnic business organizations in assisting middle class Mexican-Americans’ labour market success. Agius Vallejo’s (2012) study is also striking as it shows how middle-class Mexican-Americans are concerned with giving back to their community and continue to connect with them and consequently such business organizations become hubs of a “middle-class minority culture of mobility”.
Vallejo’s (2012) study but also other studies on second generation people’s experience refer to an ongoing effort of developing of forms of capital throughout their trajectories, which also includes social capital (Keskiner, 2017, 2019; Keskiner & Crul, 2017). Rezai (2017) has refined this building of social capital by making a distinction between social contacts that familiarize the second generation already in high school with majority cultural capital, for instance through classmates with or without a migration background, and those who become acquainted later in university and in their work environment. The act of developing social capital parallels Bourdieu’s (1986) definition of social capital which also requires active effort and investment, and can be deemed a resource when it results in returns. In Bourdieu’s take the convertibility aspect of (social) capital is crucial; this can be a beneficial way to judge whether social networks are converted to a form of resource such as economic or cultural capital. Keskiner (2017) for example shows how the internship experience of the second generation helps build social networks which in turn could be converted to actual future labour market positions.
Building on this literature we will study the social networks of Turkish second generation lawyers in Paris. We will illustrate the exclusionary structures and the kind of old (boys’) networks that most lawyers were expected to function in. Going beyond the ethnic dichotomy, we will look into which networks they build and what kind of resources they were able to extract from these resources. We will pay special attention to the concept of temporality as the second generation alternates skillfully between networks and resources for their career advancement.
3.3.1 The ELITES Study
The interviews in this chapter are part of the ELITES project. The ELITES project was conducted from 2012 until 2017 and focused on second-generation professionals with parents from Turkey (Crul et al., 2017). The Turkish second generation shows significant variation with respect to their level of education, their access to the labour market, and their actual positions in the labour market across different institutional settings (Heath et al., 2008). Keskiner and Crul (2017) have compared the experiences of upwardly mobile second generation in different sectors in France and have shown how the forms of capital in which they invested show variation, uncovering the importance of social capital for the law sector. The varied usage of different forms of social networks deserved further scrutiny which we aim to do in this chapter. In this chapter, we discuss second-generation professionals with parents from Turkey working in the law sector in the Paris region in France. The lawyers presented are either trained or later specialized in corporate law. All eight respondents have passed the bar exam and possessed at the time of the interview at least 5 years of work experience.
3.3.2 Data Collection and Participants
We present 8 second-generation lawyers in this chapter. They all live and work in the Paris region and interviews were conducted during the spring and fall of 2013. The respondents were found through intensive mapping, searching for Turkish-sounding names in online databases, using professional networking sites such as LinkedIn as well as the Paris Bar where law graduates who pass the bar exam and practice law registers resulting in the following composition of second-generation lawyers (Table 3.1).
After the respondents were contacted, the lead author and a research assistant conducted semi-structured face-to-face interviews that each lasted around an hour. The interviews focused predominantly on how the respondents had come to their current labour market position, what the role of significant others had been, and what had been valuable resources throughout their upward trajectory. The interviews were audio-recorded with written consent from the respondents and subsequently transcribed verbatim and anonymized. A second research assistant translated the transcripts from French to English before they were uploaded in Atlas.ti.
For this chapter we used an issue-focused analysis which “describe[s] what has been learned from all respondents about people in their situation” (Weiss, 1994, p. 151). As an issue-focused analysis runs through four stages, we will briefly describe how we approached the data in each of the stages. During the first stage of ‘coding’ (Weiss, 1994, p. 154–156), we used Atlas.ti. We coded inductively, meaning that we created codes based on what the interviewees were telling us (Weiss, 1994; Saunders et al., 2018). For example, we created a code called ‘Law sector’, as interviewees mentioned that characteristics of the sector had an effect on how they had to organize and plan their career. The second stage of an issue-focused analysis revolves around ‘sorting’ (Weiss, 1994, p. 156–158). In Atlas.ti sorting can be done by creating so-called code groups under which we sorted the inductive codes made during the first stage. One of the code groups we created was called ‘Features of Law sector’. Under this group we for instance sorted the code ‘Law sector’. But we also created code groups with a more theoretical angle, such as ‘Social ties/memberships’, under which we sorted a variety of codes that ranged from ‘Role models’ to ‘Extra-curricular activities’. The third stage is ‘local integration’ (Weiss, 1994, p. 158–160). During this stage we made an overview of what the respondents were saying when we looked into the bigger picture of what we coded. We developed a main line of analysis and we checked the material which did not fit this main line. An example of a main line, revolving around resources, would be that most of the respondents talked about the fact that for their career they capitalized on their ability to speak and understand Turkish. An exception to this main line was one respondent who in her career also heavily capitalized on her ability to fluently speak multiple foreign languages, yet these languages did not include Turkish. ‘Inclusive integration’ is the final stage of an issue-focused analysis and it “knits into a single coherent story the otherwise isolated areas of analysis that result from local integration” (Weiss, 1994, p. 160). In other words, during this final stage we further developed the empirical framework to integrate how the characteristics of the law sector are intertwined with the temporal pattern of which social ties become relevant at what point in second-generation lawyers’ careers in the Paris region.
In the results we present four sections. We begin with presenting the social capital of family and parents in the trajectories of second-generation lawyers. We then describe the law sector and the rules of the game in the law field which informs the social networks of our respondents. The last two sections are the trust based relationships that our respondents developed with their mentors and how they use their social networks in the Turkish community to build clientele. In presenting our analysis we have selected three respondents who have followed different career pathways; Cagla who works part-time at a law firm and has her clientele, Fehime who is an independent lawyer and Melek who works at a corporate law firm. All three of them specialize in corporate and business law. In each section their quotes will be presented. This way we aim to show, how their social networks varied and their strategies changed over time.
3.5 Turkish Second-Generation Lawyers in Paris: Parental Support at Work
All of our respondents came from families where the migrant parents had lower educational background. Some parents started their own business such as in construction or as tailors, as a result achieving better financial conditions, but no parents held professional jobs. This limited their role in assisting their children’s education and later work careers. In her research on social capital of low educated parents and their assistance for their upwardly mobile children, Rezai (2017) talks about the crucial emotional support provided by the parents while they could not provide instrumental support for home-work or significant educational or occupational decisions. Below we provide some case studies to illustrate the role of parents when making educational or occupational choices.
Cagla is a female lawyer of Turkish origin who works part-time in a law firm run by a French female lawyer, and part-time with her own clients. Her grandfather came to work in the manufacturing sector of France in the1970s, soon to be joined by her grandmother and mother. Her mother was 18 when she came to France and later met her father in Turkey and they got married, which brought him to France. He was a tailor in Turkey and he continued this profession in Paris, Cagla’s mother soon after joined him in the business. Cagla has two brothers; her older brother has a degree in biology but never did anything in the field. He worked with his parents and later launched his cleaning company. Her younger brother is studying law, following Cagla’s guidance and in the future she hopes to start a law firm together with him. When talking about her parents, she mentions the limited resources yet the emotional support she felt;
Actually, my father’s company was in the same street as our apartment block and I studied in our kitchen and he would come in his break to see if I was working and when he saw that I was demotivated he would motivate me. All the time, we were a team.
Interviewer: And did he help you with your homework ?
Also when talking about finding internships later in the law field she underlined that her parents could not be of help;
They had no means to help me more. They couldn’t find an internship for me because they didn’t know(how). (This meant) I had more freedom. When you initiate (things) yourself it’s easier to find an internship, yes I think that (is the case) really.
When such support was not present in the family, significant others became crucial (Portes & Fernández-Kelly, 2008). For example Cagla talks about a friend who informed her about her choice of study, as an important turning moment in her career. That friend was Algerian-French.
First of all, there was a friend of mine that told me about the double Masters degree, I didn’t know him very well, he was at my lycée, but he learned that I did the BAC, and he knew I was going to university so he asked me what I had applied for and he asked me why I didn’t I apply for the double degree.
This double degree allowed her to combine finance and law studies, which she valued for the flexibility it provided her with. Later she decided to take the path of law, and studied for the bar exam. But thanks to her degree in finance, she specialized in the field of corporate and business law. Fehime was an independent lawyer working in Paris specialized in corporate and business law at the time of the interview. Fehime’s parents arrived in France in 1978 after getting married. Her mother was very conservative: she didn’t want her to study or work and tried to raise her traditionally. Yet her father had dropped out of school and regretted his decision, so he supported Fehime’s studies. After working in different jobs, her father soon started launching his own entrepreneurial endeavors, these ventures were also useful for Fehime’s learning process;
He (Fehime’s father) tried many areas: textiles, food, catering, he tried many things, he had two bankruptcies at the time. When I was young I always helped him. In the companies where I did my internship, people always said that I already seemed like a professional: this was because I used to help my father with his commercial documents. I helped my father to prepare his papers from 14 years old and still do it.
This quote shows how helping her father indirectly led to the development of resources for doing business which she benefited from later in her work. Nevertheless she didn’t receive any instrumental support for her education and sometimes even lacked emotional support from her mother. When asked for the role that her family played in her professional career, such as choice of profession or finding of internships, she said:
None. Because they don’t understand what I am doing. When they have problems I will always protect them, I do, but they don’t understand (what I do) because they haven’t studied.
The third profile we present is Melek, who was working in a medium sized corporate French law firm for 7 years at the time of the interview. Melek was born in Turkey and she was 2 years old when her parents migrated to France. She talks about having difficulties in the first years of her education. Her parents emotionally supported her education and her decision to become a lawyer but again fell short of providing instrumental assistance. Talking about the assistance she received she says:
The difficulty was that I didn’t have any support for school at home. No one that could help me with my homework or that could understand my homework, but the positive side was that compared to other families with Turkish origins, that push their children to work with them in the manufacture, my parents asked me for help sometimes, but they wanted me to do my homework. And my education was important. Even if they couldn’t help me they would ask me if I did my homework. So they pushed us to study.
The three case studies exemplify the conditions for all of our respondents; our respondents entered the field of law lacking fathers or mothers who are also lawyers or who could provide any form of social networks or information regarding the choice of the profession or finding internships. However, all of our respondents received emotional support at least from one of their parents, who would stress the importance of studying, check if they are doing their homework and, in some cases, pay for extra courses. Interestingly even involving second generation people in their own business with language related or administrative tasks, helped our respondents develop skills for their business careers.
3.6 The Law Sector: Rules of the Game
The characteristics of the law sector and the institutional structure are important to understand how second generation lawyers access their social networks throughout their careers (Keskiner & Crul, 2017). The characteristics of the employment sectors have a great impact on the nature of how social ties function. In the current book Louise Ryan compares the strategies of migrants across employment sectors in the UK and Lang, Schneider and Pott examine the experience of second-generation in the public and law sectors in Germany.
The manner in which the law sector in France is perceived and described by the second-generation lawyers we interviewed is broad but also remarkably identical. The respondents talked about both negative and positive characteristics of the sector such as competitiveness and long and irregular working hours, but also flexibility and independence, a good income, as well as “brotherhood” and loyalty.
In theory, we have to be respectful to each other. But politeness doesn’t exist between lawyers. The lawyer world is more competitive than anything else. There is real competition, maybe that is something that belongs to our career, it is true that people in the lawyer world try to put down other lawyers, to take cases, to have something for themselves, a competitive mindset is always present. This profession is very individualistic.
The gap between what our respondents had learned in law school regarding some of the rules of the game, and their actual experience in the field, points to their newcomer position in the field as second-generation lawyers. For all of the second-generation lawyers in our study, their acquaintance with the sector was a completely new one. None of the respondents knew of any lawyers in their families and so their entrance in a law firm, either when doing an internship or when obtaining their first paid position, was always for the very first time in their lives:
It’s not that things were strange but it was more that I didn’t know how to behave towards an associate, how to behave towards other employees, how to behave towards other interns, with secretaries. Everyone has their own place.
What is interesting about the quote above is that Melek refers to cultural capital in terms of manners and behavior, and not to the content of the work she was supposed to do as an intern. Melek further explains her experience by stating that during her time in law school, characteristics of the sector were mentioned, but the topic of “how to behave” in a prestigious firm had never been covered. Therefore, some of the (usually unwritten) rules of the game had remained hidden for her until she actually entered the field. Of course we can argue that this will also be the case for French lawyers without a migration background, especially for those who also do not have lawyers in their families. However, the second-generation lawyers not only had to adjust to the actual practices and ways of being in the sector, they also had to adjust to being and working in a predominantly, and sometimes exclusively, French environment:
Well actually in your family you talk Turkish, then you are at school with French people for several years etc. so you get used to it but, to really enter into an active life with French people that was really (different), I was not really prepared for that. I don’t know if you understand what I am saying but… (…) Well examples are little things, for example how to present yourself in a French working environment for example with French people. We don’t know because we are coming from a Turkish background.
Despite the doubt that the above respondent refers to, second-generation lawyers learn the rules of the game in the law sector by observing, adjusting and anticipating. Obligatory internships and practicing law with senior lawyers were important components of their training as lawyers. In this process of learning, their relations with the senior lawyers and associates play a crucial role. Our respondents underlined that theory and practice is very different and you learn the job by doing and you learn it from other lawyers on the job. Another important characteristic of the sector, in which our respondents apply observing, adjusting and anticipating, is the principle in large law firms of “up or out”. This principle applies to all lawyers in a firm and it means that once someone is taken on as a lawyer in a firm, there remains a certain period of time in which that person can establish him/herself, build and expand their clientele within the firm, and either move up to become a partner within the firm or move out, usually to set up their own small firm. In achieving the pathway to become a partner most of our respondent felt blocked. One of our respondents, a female lawyer, explains this in the following quotation:
I decided to quit for several reasons. After 5 years of working in my firm, I had to make a decision about where I want to be on a professional level. Do I wish to become a partner one day? The partner positions are truly limited in my company…People told me that it is really difficult, especially for a woman to become a partner in this type of structure. You need to have a typical profile, so being a woman, I would say is already a little handicap and I don’t say that because I am a feminist. I claim that because if I look around in my firm 80% of the partners are male…. So voila, I told myself either I continue to fight myself through this structure with the risk that I would never become a partner or I would leave and create my own firm. This way I could have the independence that I currently do. In contrast to my previous firm, I would be in direct contact with my clients since in my previous company it was more difficult as there was a hierarchy that needed to be respected.
All of our respondents had similar remarks about the closed and exclusionary nature of social networks at the top in the law sector and that the partners and seniors in such law firms are still composed of old boys’ networks. In this quote our respondent underlines the gender aspect of this exclusion (please see the chapter of Schaer for a discussion of gendered social networks). While we have no general statistics about the ethnic background of the lawyers who start their own companies, in our sample four of our eight second-generation lawyers had made the move out of a large or medium sized law firm. Positions as a partner are few, so this trajectory into self-employment appears to be a regular one for many lawyers. As independent lawyers, networking is especially important, if not crucial, for survival in the sector. The importance of developing a network is therefore an important characteristic of the sector that all of the second-generation lawyers acknowledge as vital. How the characteristics of “up or out” and the connected characteristic of developing and establishing a network and a client base relates to the trajectory and the use of social ties by second-generation lawyers, will be outlined in the coming sections.
3.7 Social Ties with Mentors and Senior Lawyers
As we discussed in the previous section on the law sector, all of our respondents had to conduct a series of internships where they became acquainted with practicing law. Hence all of our respondents learned the profession through working with senior lawyers or associates in the big law companies. Out of the 8 respondents we spoke to, 6 (females) mentioned having a mentor or a role model figure either in their previous education, internship or work experience or in the current firm where they worked. None of our respondents mentioned being “allocated” a mentor hence this was not a formal role but something that organically happened in the companies as the juniors couple with and assist senior lawyers. Below we present the cases of Cagla, Fehime and Melek to exemplify this social network to a high(er)-status lawyer.
When respondents referred to a mentor, they defined the relationship in relation to trust and knowledge transmission. This was a person who was hierarchically higher and resourceful. They looked up to and learned from this person. Comparing herself to others who quickly start their own companies, Cagla decided to combine working in a law-firm with building a clientele;
There are very few firms where you can work part-time. And this was one of the few. I applied for all of them and it’s funny when I got this interview it was the first time that I really wanted the job. Because ChantalFootnote 1 is someone that I immediately, recognised myself in. I wanted to become this lady and now we have worked together for 2 years and I still want be this woman. I like her a lot, I like the way she presents herself, I like her way of working, her human side…I don’t know what I would have done if I had set myself up on my own like the others. That would have been a pity, I have learned a lot in the past two years and I am still learning a lot from her and I am advantaged regarding this.
Cagla values what she has learned from her boss and she thinks she would have missed out on this experience and knowledge if she went ahead with starting her own company 2 years ago. She openly defines her boss as a mentor;
She is my mentor, she ensures that I won’t make the same mistakes, she shares her experiences with me, she is very generous, she corrects my mistakes, she gets angry when she has to get angry, she congratulates me when I need to be congratulated, she supports me when it doesn’t go that well.
This mentorship relationship grants knowledge transmission but also helps the respondents build the self-confidence which is crucial for their success. Fehime has interned in various law firms in Paris. After passing the Bar Exam, she worked in an Anglo-American corporate law firm for 3 years. Having accumulated, according to her, sufficient experience she started her own law firm. Throughout her previous internship and job experiences she accessed a lot of resourceful networks who according to her taught her the profession and provided her with confidence:
I learned a lot. I was an intern, but at the same time they gave me work as a lawyer-employee so I really managed reaching conclusions and managing contracts. I was really involved with the work of the firm, despite my intern status. The oldest associate… was a member of the bar council. He taught me a lot, when I had difficulties he would help me without a problem, he was always available to explain to me things that I didn’t understand…and that gave me confidence.
Fehime also accessed other senior lawyers in her previous working career. She names many French male senior lawyers from previous jobs and internship experiences with whom she sustained her relationships and sometimes re-contacted these people for case-based information or important career decisions. She calls these senior lawyers “mentors”; though they were not formal mentors that were appointed this role but people with whom she built a trust relationship over the years. Illustrating the degree of trust embedded in their relationship, she underlines that later one of these mentors asked her to recommend them.
Pierre from my previous company is one of my mentors and when I have some important questions regarding my career I still call him. The second one (mentor) is Leo who has become a partner now in my previous company (but at the time I was there he was a senior lawyer) and there is also Patrick who was formerly responsible for the banking and finance in Europe. So these men are in fact the ones that I call when I have huge decisions to make in my own work, if one day I have a big file and I have to ask them how can I do this or something like that they will answer. One of these men wanted to change profession, and he called me. He said “I need your help” and I said “OK what can I do for you?”, he said “someone will call you and you will have to recommend me”. I was so happy because I was his trainee and now I would get to recommend him.
This quote from Fehime also shows that the relationship with these social networks become mutual as Fehime also advanced in her career and became a resource for one of these senior lawyers. One important distinction in understanding the role of social networks is whether they lead to direct job opportunities (see the chapter by Ryan and also the introduction chapter by Ryan et al.). The majority of our respondents used these mentorship ties as resources in learning the profession and connecting to more people. Yet whether they lead to the actual creation of job opportunities and whether such mentors also helped respondents attain a position as a partner was open to discussion as most of our respondents did not attain that role. Most of our respondents talked about finding internship places during their studies, through open application, and then stayed with the same employer for their first jobs. Lang, Schneider and Pott (Lange et al.’s chapter in this book) illustrate how the grades from the bar exam are important to find a job in a corporate law firm in Germany, a similar pattern was not observed in France. Yet going to prestigious universities increased the likelihood of finding internship placements in big firms. Of the three profiles we picked, Melek was still working in the same company for 7 years. She hoped to become an associate in the company where she worked and she referred to her current boss as her mentor;
Well the fact that I am still here after 7 years is because the director of this firm, with whom I work, has supported me very much and it goes well and I didn’t get bored. He has a lot of experience and my first interview went well and after some years he became my friend, he trusted me and he trained me a lot, I learned the profession through him.
During the writing of this chapter we have checked Melek’s profile on Linkedin and found that she was still working for the same law firm as a senior lawyer and has not yet become a partner. Perhaps she might have changed her goal of which we have no knowledge at the moment. When we study the tie that our respondents describe in relation to the senior lawyers or colleagues when they started working or they conducted their internships; we see that they talk about a resourceful relationship based on information and knowledge transmission. These networks can be interpreted as social capital (Bourdieu, 1986) as they required an investment and were converted into other resources such as symbolic and cultural capital around which the law field revolves. Moreover, without exception, all the seniors that our respondents refer to are from the ethnic majority group. Applying Granovetter’s theory (1973) they can be seen as weak ties that bridge across social status and deliver resources yet the “weakness” aspect is questionable since they were based on almost mutual trust and enduring relations hence were also “strong”. In line with Ryan (2011), they are also vertical ties connecting the second generation lawyers to higher-ranking seniors or partners.
It is also crucial to underline that our respondents did not assess these networks using an ethnic lens but concentrated more on the resources and the trust relationship embedded in them. We identify two conditions for this “lack of ethnic lens”. The first one is the structure of the law field that necessitates learning the profession on the job from other colleagues and seniors. For the second-generation lawyers who entered the law field; this condition could only be fulfilled with senior lawyers, colleagues and associates of French origin. Secondly, they did not necessarily prefer senior lawyers with a French origin: it was simply the case that senior lawyers with Turkish or other migration origins were not present in the field, and interviewees’ parents were also not equipped to assist them in the law sector.
3.8 Social Ties Related to the Ethnic Community: Temporality, Convertibility of Weak Ties
Even though our respondents did not see their ties with mentors and other associates through an ethnic lens, later in their career when they begin their own firms, or wanted to build their own clientele they turned their focus to the Turkish community and started activating their language and cultural capital related to Turkey (Rezai and Keskiner in the book; Keskiner & Crul, 2017). At that stage in their career, ethnic community and resources were sought and valued.
Temporality of social ties is a useful concept to understand this pattern. ‘Going beyond the snapshot’ Ryan and D’Angelo (2018) illustrate the significance of encapsulating dynamism and complexity of networks over time (p. 157). These studies further reaffirmed the temporality and contextuality of networks as certain social ties may become important in different phases of a migrant’s trajectory (Ryan et al., 2008; Ryan & D’Angelo, 2018). This was also true for the second-generation Turkish lawyers in France; when making their educational or occupational choices, during their training in the university or when they were looking for an internship, or in the beginning of their law career when they had to learn the profession from senior experienced lawyers, the resources in their family or in the ethnic community were not of assistance. Hence in the beginning they turned to their classmates or friends of French origin and later also to senior lawyers of French origin to learn the profession. However later, when they needed clients, their Turkish networks were discerned as a crucial source. Reciting Cagla’s case who combines both activities of working for a lawyer and building her clientele;
The work of a lawyer is generally a liberal job, this implies that, even if I work for another lawyer I have the liberty to develop my own client databases. Ehm, because of my Turkish origins, I have developed a personal clients database quite quickly, because the Turkish people from here, that don’t necessarily talk French. They look for a lawyer that speaks Turkish, that permits them to not have communication barriers, so very quickly I developed my own clientele., With other clients that I had, it augmented quickly till the moment that I couldn’t work on my own cases anymore, whilst working for another lawyer full time. So I looked for a new job part-time. Two days I would work for myself and Wednesday Thursday Friday I would work for the company.
In doing so they activated certain forms of capital they already embodied. First of all language capital. The second-generation lawyers we interviewed were proficient in Turkish, French and some in English or German. In order to expand their clientele, they invested in their Turkish language skills. Again Cagla conducted one of her internships in Istanbul both in order to enhance her language skills but also to broaden her social networks;
I have a second manner of working with Turkey: with Turkish people in Turkey. Turkish companies that need a lawyer from here… And accordingly I worked for 6 months in Turkey, I did my last internship in Istanbul at (anonymized name of a Turkish company) so I got to know people and the first way in which a lawyer can get clients is through word of mouth, and this gave me clients. And after that it was my environment that consulted me when there was something… There are several things, my name appears on all lawyer lists that states lawyers that talk Turkish in France.
Here it is important to underline that it is not only the “ethnic resource” that they capitalize on but also their French cultural capital. The intersection of different forms of capital are converted into social networks. The quote shows how Cagla actively invested in building her social networks and resources in Turkey. Her effort is very much in line with Bourdieu’s definition of social capital and convertibility; her language and cultural capital related to Turkey allowed her to conduct an internship in Istanbul and generated social networks in Turkey. This way she extended her clientele to Turkish people doing business in France but also French firms wanting to do business in Turkey. This resource even expands beyond the borders of France and Turkey and connects her to job opportunities in other countries, such as Germany;
There are connections with all countries where there are Turkish people actually. For example I have a specialty in driving offences. These are lorry drivers and it is a company managed by Turkish people in Germany, they do many projects in Europe etc. When these drivers have an issue in France they call me, Voilà, actually I won a case, for one company in Germany. Since then I have contacts through that, so yes I work with different countries in which there are Turkish people in general. But in the end I am a lawyer concerning French law, so in France. Even if I have a client from a different country I still work in France and in French.
At the end she makes an emphasis on where her expertise lies, being a French lawyer in France, while she capitalizes on her ethnicity. Furthermore this also illustrates how the existence of Turkish migrants and their descendants in several EU countries could create business for the second generation lawyers and professionals in other EU countries. Fehime followed a very comparable strategy as an independent lawyer. The majority of her clients were of Turkish origin and she also invested in her social networks in Turkey. She achieved this by working in a partnership with a Turkish firm when she started her own office:
In 2009 when I opened my own office for the first time, I spent my first months in Istanbul. Why in Istanbul? Because if you want to work for Turkey and France you have to have a foot in both camps. And I was in Istanbul from September 2009 until March 2010. And I put into place a partnership with a local firm, we worked together. I went to the different commercial chambers in order to introduce myself as a lawyer etc.
At the time of the interview she grouped her clientele into three categories; French companies doing business in France, French companies doing business in Turkey and Turkish companies doing business in France. The ventures of Turkish-French people were grouped under the French companies. Among the three respondents the one who relied least on Turkish clients was Melek. Her clientele came from the French company where she worked. Nevertheless she underlined that she also uses the Turkish clientele as a resource;
We have the right to have files personally, so the files that I have come from my Turkish network, it’s through connections for example through my dad about someone that wants to open a shop, or commerce, or firm and he says my daughter is a lawyer if you want… so thanks to that I have personal clients but it is not really a structured network, its knowing people through knowing people because I am Turkish. There are some connections but it is not really a network.
It is interesting that Melek, calls these contacts “ not really a network”. This has to do with the fact that she invested in these social networks much less than the other respondents who have their own businesses. Furthermore her commentary also shows how the family can serve as a source of clientele like the ethnic community, when a lawyer gets his or her clients. Studying ethnic entrepreneurship and social capital, Anthias and Cederberg (2009) see ethnic bonds as useful in the context of exclusion and discrimination, nevertheless the context also determines when such ties are resourceful. It is questionable whether we can call our lawyers “ethnic-entrepreneurs” yet there are parallels. Their businesses do capitalize on ethnicity as a resource, be it through contacts in the community or cultural capital related to Turkey. There is mostly a co-ethnic clientele base yet they also serve clients from France.
It is important to underline that contacts with their clients are rather “weak ties” than being based on bonding or trust relationships. These weak ties do have a bridging function for the migrant community; we see that our respondents as highly educated lawyers form a vertical weak tie for the co-ethnics. Hence the second-generation lawyers switch to a role of being the higher status resource for the ethnic community (Anthias & Cederberg, 2009) or the vertical tie in the community (Ryan, 2011).
3.9 Conclusion: Bridging of Resources
In this chapter we have tried to integrate the literature on second generation people social networks in the labour market with the discussion of migrants’ social networks. There is an extended literature on the social network ties of migrants and how these networks play a role in their labour market experience (Portes, 1998; Behtoui, 2007, 2008; Ryan et al., 2008; Ryan, 2011; Lancee, 2010; Kalter & Kogan, 2014). The experience of the second generation with building, activating and using social networks is both similar to and different from migrants’.
The first difference is the newcomer status of the second generation. While migrants may need to rely on their ethnic community as newcomers to the country (Ryan, 2011), the people who make up the second generation are not newcomers to the country. They are born and raised in the host countries. However, looking at the second generation experience, for example, in the context of the education system, we see that they actually can be understood as newcomers in the institutions that they enter. As they went through the school system, their parents were oftentimes unfamiliar with both the language and the rules of the game within the school system, leaving many of the second generation to discover these rules by themselves (Keskiner, 2015; Rezai et al., 2015). The same applies for their labour market experience; we note that the second generation, and especially those with a higher education who establish themselves in a professional position, are newcomers in the field (Keskiner, 2019; Keskiner & Crul, 2017). Not only are many professional organizations unfamiliar with the presence of second-generation professionals (Waldring, 2018), second-generation professionals themselves usually lack, for example, parents or family members who possess the necessary information or relevant social networks that might function as enablers in the field (Keskiner & Crul, 2017). This required second generation to actively invest in building forms of capital, especially social capital in their social trajectories (Keskiner, 2019).
Regarding the temporality of social networks, the second generation had a similar experience to migrants. Focusing on the case of Turkish second generation lawyers in France, first of all we were able to illustrate how they actively accessed and mobilized different forms of social capital throughout their trajectories starting from their education onwards. Hence, temporality of social networks is crucial to understand (Ryan et al., 2008; Ryan & D’Angelo, 2018) the network choices of the second-generation lawyers. In the beginning of their law careers, thanks to the structure of the law sector, they had to conduct internships, and they learned the profession from senior lawyers of the majority group. These networks can be called “weak ties’ based on Granovetter’s definition (1973), as they were resourceful and bridging them to individuals who occupy vertically higher position. Yet the concept of weak ties is also tricky- as most of these relationships were based on trust and they were durable and reliable, sometimes even mutual as they second-generation gained more standing in the sector. Hence the so-called “weak ties” of second generation with their mentors were rather “strong”. Ryan (2016) argued tie strength can also change in time, that social ties that began as weak can become strong over time (p. 965). This argument also applies here; in the beginning the mentors were bridging weak ties that connected the respondents to work related cultural capital and over time they built trust relationships with these ties.
Regarding their relationship with the ethnic community, the highly educated second generation has a rather instrumental approach. Despite the lack of assistance of the co-ethnics during their education and in the beginning of their careers, later in their careers most second generation lawyers invested in building a clientele relying on their cultural capital in the Turkish community. Here they actively relied on their language and cultural capital related to Turkey and combined it with their professional knowledge and competency in French law. While this social tie can be called “strong” because of its ethnic connation, compared to the nature of ties with the mentors they are quiet weak and lack a trust base. Here the contacts with the ethnic community, resemble the clientele of ethnic entrepreneurs (Anthias & Cederberg, 2009). Hence the professional contacts with the Turkish community is rather “weak”. Regarding the vertical or horizontal nature of these social ties (Ryan, 2011) instead of the community being a horizontal resource, it is the second-generation lawyers who are in a more socially advantaged position that provide a vertical resource for the community.
The experience of second-generation lawyers shows one more time that strong and weak ties should not be evaluated on the basis of ethnicity but based on the nature of resources they provide and the trust embodied in the contact. In the case of second generation lawyers we interviewed in Paris, we have seen that they develop strong “vertical” ties with their mentors of French background and weak ties in connecting to their community as clientele. This way they have a “bridging of resources function”; on the one hand they connect with co-ethnics and on the other hand they easily refer to their ties in a vertically higher location in the legal profession.
This bridging of resources is enabled through the convertibility of forms of capital across cultures. Bourdieu (1986) talks about how social capital requires investment and that it is convertible to other forms of capital. Yet in the case of second generation, which has a unique condition of being connected to two worlds, we see a complex constellation of cross-cultural capitals (Keskiner, 2019). For example, their Turkish language capital enables them to connect to ethnic clientele while their French language capital assists them to serve their Turkish speaking clients in the French legal system. It is their cultural capital (including linguistic capital) in France, as French lawyers, that allows them to also activate forms of capitals related to their ethnic origin. Hence the current chapter shows how strong and weak ties of second generation is also strongly related with their both types of cultural capital (Turkish and French), allowing them to bridge different worlds.
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Keskiner, E., Waldring, I. (2022). Are “Weak Ties” Really Weak? Social Capital Reliance Among Second Generation Turkish Lawyers in Paris. In: Keskiner, E., Eve, M., Ryan, L. (eds) Revisiting Migrant Networks. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94972-3_3
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