Cause Lawyering: Political Commitments and Professional Responsibilities

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Austin Sarat, Stuart Scheingold
Oxford University Press, Jan 8, 1998 - Law - 576 pages
Why do some lawyers devote themselves to a given social movement or political cause? How are such deeds of individual commitment and personal belief justly executed, given the ideals of disinterested professional service to which lawyers are (in theory, at least) supposed to adhere? What can we learn from such lawyers about the relationship between law and politics? Cause Lawyering is a wise and varied collection of responses to these questions, featuring a number of distinguished legal scholars concerned with anti-poverty lawyers, lawyers who work against capital punishment, immigration lawyers, and other lawyers working to end oppression. Editors Austin Sarat and Stuart Scheingold have assembled here a valuable cross-national portrait of lawyers compelled to sacrifice financial gain so as to use their legal skills in the promotion of a more just society. These telling and important essays fully explore the relationship between cause lawyering and the organized legal professions of many different countries--the US, England, South Africa, Israel, Cuba, and so forth. They describe the utility of law as a resource in political struggles and, conversely, highlight the constraints under which lawyers necessarily operate when they turn to politics. Some provide broad theoretical overviews; others present rich case studies. Advancing a fundamental argument about the very nature of the legal profession, this book explains the strategies that cause lawyers deploy, as well as the challenges they face in trying to be legally astute and effective while remaining politically devoted and aware. Although it is a controversial way of practicing law, cause lawyering, as explicated in the essays in this volume, is indeed indispensable to the legitimization of professional authority.

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I Contexts and Conditions of Cause Lawyering
II Cause Lawyering and the Organization of Practice
III Strategies of Cause Lawyering under Liberal Legalism
IV The Possibilities of Cause Lawyering beyond Liberal Legalism

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About the author (1998)

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. He has written and edited many books and articles on the theory and practice of law, including Race, Law, and Culture (OUP, 1997) and Divorce Lawyers and Their Clients (OUP, 1995). Stuart Scheingold is Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of The Politics of Street Crime (1991) and The Politics of Law and Order (1984), among other books.

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