The paper begins by exploring literature on the legal profession that tends to obscure questions at the heart of our research. It then turns to our approach, drawing on Pierre Bourdieu, which looks beyond the category of profession as such to the social space in which professions are situated. The key from our perspective is to examine both the social interests embedded in law and lawyers and the specific interests of learned professionals themselves. This perspective leads not to criticism or praise of lawyers, but rather to an understanding of how elite lawyers participate in the construction of the state and economy. We examine relationships between three poles ‐ knowledge, state politics, and power, whether economic or social ‐ that contribute to shaping the legal profession.