Building Trust: Social Capital, Distributive Justice, and Loyalty to the Firm

Fiona M. Kay*, John L Hagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Trust is essential to successful business relations, particularly to the efficient operation of law firms. Trust fosters productive working relationships, favorable reputations, and a lucrative clientele. This paper contributes to research on law firm development through a consideration of social dynamics within law firms beyond traditional emphases on trading relationships and community solidarity. We introduce a social capital perspective on the evolution of trust and its consequences for commitment to the law firm. We argue that trust, specifically in the form of perceived distributive justice, is created and nurtured through social integration among law firm members. Yet, for women, who continue to be denied full access to these social networks and professional rewards, trust is undermined. Exclusion and emerging distrust prompt women to contemplate leaving their respective firms. This paper examines the bases of differential levels of trust and their impact on lawyers' intentions to leave practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-519
Number of pages37
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Building Trust: Social Capital, Distributive Justice, and Loyalty to the Firm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this