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Behaviour Norms and Roles Within the Group Agreement

The expected Modes of the behavior of society form the behavioral norms. Behavioral norms are further classified into Explicit and implicit norms. Implicit norms are usually in unwritten forms or if written, they are not official. Explicit norms are written down and followed by a particular group. Explicit norms usually take the form of frequently asked questions. Explicit norms may not go beyond the group agreement and may therefore be difficult to enforce. This is the difference between explicit norms and rules as rules may have effective methods of enforcing agreements. I will use a Law society as a group example.

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Dressing code is one form of explicit norms. The implicit norms usually arise from day to day interaction of the members of the community or group. Although not codified, implicit norms are always understood and embraced by members of the society or group. They are always rigid and may affect the group or society if they are followed more than explicit norms especially if they impact the group’s prospects. Breach of etiquettes by advocates is an example of implicit norms. Breach of etiquettes although not written is acceptable by every advocate as a breach that only results in small magnitude offenses.

An explicit role is the one assigned directly by an administrator to a group. This includes direct permission to perform a specific duty or take part in any action or inaction; for example, the appointment of the disciplinary committee in a Law society. Implicit roles are those that a group or its members undertake as a matter of custom such as yearly renewal of certificates by the society’s members. The Implicit and Explicit norms are enforced by the Advocates Act which helps maintain and improve advocates’ conduct.

The Advocates Act restricts advocates from engaging in certain conducts. These conducts can be divided into three types: unprofessional conduct, conduct unbecoming, and breach of etiquette. Unprofessional conducts are conducts that are expressly outlined in the Act and they include negligence, undercutting, soliciting, advertising, sharing profits with non-advocates, acting as agents of non-advocates and touting. Unprofessional conduct leads to penalties such as imprisonment, fines, and the withdrawal of the practicing certificate.

Unbecoming conducts are conducts which dent the image of an advocate publicly. They include moral issues such as overdrinking, gambling and prostitution. When an advocate is found involving himself with these kinds of activities, he is warned and if he does not heed the warnings he loses his practicing certificate. To advocates, breach of etiquettes is considered as a matter which one has to apply common sense. They include things like lateness in court, improper dressing, harassing the witness, and so on. Such breaches do not attract heavy punishment, and at times, most of them go unnoticed. It is worth noting that these misconducts are taken to the disciplinary committee established under the Advocates Act.

Continuous legal education is mandatory for all advocates under law society membership. The legal education is however self-sponsored. Self-sponsorship may interfere with the productivity of the advocates as they may be tempted to charge unreasonable client fees to continue with the legal education. However, this may also help in ensuring that quality services are provided. Advocates who are not involved in active practice for three years are not to represent clients in the Law Courts which reduces social loafing enhancing productivity.


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  3. Horne, C. (2004). Collective benefits, exchange interests, and norm enforcement. Social Forces, 82(3), 1037–1062.
  4. McKenna, K & Green, A. (2002). Virtual group dynamics. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 6(1), 116–127

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