The Loyalty Marathon: Career Norms and Choices in Taiwan Law Firms

November 01, 2018

Lawyers often face difficult career choices in times of market uncertainty. After the global financial crisis in 2008, Taiwan law firms have experienced business downturns, which have taken a toll on lawyers’ careers. Drawing on more than 60 interviews conducted in Taipei and Tainan in 2017-2018, this talk investigates how lawyers in Taiwan make career choices in an unfavourable market for professional services. Sida Liu argues that professional careers in Taiwan law firms is driven by an extra-long “loyalty marathon”, which is the result of three concurrent factors: (1) a stagnant market environment in which foreign capital is pulling out and local clients are struggling to compete in the global economy; (2) a pyramidal firm structure in which equity partners control all case sources; and, (3) a deferential career norm in which deference to seniority and loyalty to the firm prevail and shape the career expectations and choices of junior lawyers. Consequently, only lawyers who are willing to endure the long years of subordination to equity partners get promotion to partnership, whereas other lawyers leave the firm to pursue other career options, including in-house counsel and ordinary litigation in small firms or solo practice.


Sida Liu is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law at the University of Toronto and Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. He received his LL.B. degree from Peking University Law School and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago. Professor Liu has conducted extensive empirical research on China’s legal reform and legal profession. His ongoing project studies the legal professions in Taiwan and Hong Kong in the context of China’s rise as a global power.

Her research interests involve Nationalism in East Asia, National Identity issues in Taiwan, Taiwan and Korea under Japanese rules and Taiwanese and Korean sentiment toward Japan. She recently translated two books by the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen in Japan.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

1:00 - 2:30pm

SFU Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings, Vancouver
1530 Canadian Pacific Lecture Room

Please register here.

  • SFU David Lam Centre
  • Taiwan Studies Group, Department of History