While there is a considerable body of research on law student identity construction based on interviews and transcripts of classroom talk, there is very little work based on student written texts. In this article two letters of advice written by beginning law students are analysed, using Ivanic and Camps’s (2001) framework, as an example of identity formation. Legal identity is argued to be formed by students’ attempts to accommodate a dynamic, partial, practitioner role of provider of advice to the traditional analytic focus of the law student. The process of accommodation is evident in the language of the letters, which show disfluencies resulting from attempts to combine different roles into a coherent legal identity. Comparison with a professionally written letter suggests that, rather than seeking to shape a coherent position, lawyers are able simultaneously to hold incompatible perspectives, concealing the tensions by foregrounding some perspectives and backgrounding others.
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