Barristers constituted the most powerful and prosperous professional group in early modern England. In the half-century before the calling of the Long Parliament in 1640, this branch of the legal profession grew rapidly and underwent profound structural change. Wilfrid Prest systematicallyexamines the effects of these changes on the barrister's working life, along with the changing balance between supply and demand for his services during this formative period. Patterns of professional recruitment, training, and mobility have been reconstructed from the social origins and careers of some 500 individual lawyers, and separate chapters explore the participation of barristers in the cultural, religious, and political life of Elizabethan and early StuartEngland. The book concludes by considering the nature and underlying causes of the largely unfavourable image of the early modern lawyer.