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The papers collected in this symposium issue were delivered in preliminary form at a conference held at Stanford Law School in February of 1984. Together, they amount to a series of excited reports from explorers returning from journeys into the heart of a vast, mysterious, and almost unmapped interior of American society, its large metropolitan law firms. Rather unusually, these explorers' reports are further supplemented by the comments of some eminent natives of that heartland, the practicing lawyers themselves. The hope of the conference's arrangers was that if most of the small band of legal scholars who have investigated the corporate law firm could be brought together with a few exceptionally reflective practitioners, some progress might be made toward shaping these hitherto relatively isolated and fragmentary efforts into a field of study. This hope, I believe, these papers and the comments on them abundantly fulfill. They make a start at identifying some of the major questions to be asked, and at intelligently guessing the probable-contours of the answers. They also show how little is reliably known about these institutions and what they do. Best of all, they suggest how exciting it might be to try to find out more.

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