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This work explores the professional standards of the French bar as it moves, rapidly but with misgivings, into a world of competition, organization and globalism. It focuses on the ideology of French legal ethics in its historical and social contexts, rather than the details of the rules governing ""avocats"". Those rules are technical and, in many respects, similar to the rules in effect in the USA. But lawyers in France and the United States base their rules on strikingly different pictures of lawyers. French avocats classify their duties as a series of virtues - probity, honour and delicacy - to follow one official formulation. By contrast, lawyers in the USA, to judge from the way they justify their rules, consider their fellows scoundrels who, without regulation, would cheat their clients, opposing parties and other lawyers. The author's goal is to describe, in their cultural and institutional contexts, the professional ideals of the French bar as it remembers its past and faces its future.