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Chapter 2 - Cause Lawyers, Political Violence, and Professionalism in Conflict

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2022

Kieran McEvoy
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
Louise Mallinder
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
Anna Bryson
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
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Summary

This chapter examines how cause lawyers in conflicted and authoritarian contexts balance their professional responsibilities with their commitment to a political cause. It seeks to add to the existing literature on lawyers and social movements by offering a new comparative exploration of the relationship between cause lawyering and violent politically motivated movements and individuals. In particular, it considers how lawyers set the boundaries of their ‘professional project’ when managing relations with politically committed clients and collective movements. Using the notion of ‘legitimation work’, this chapter examines the complex, fluid, and contingent understandings of legal professionalism that are developed in such challenging contexts. To better understand the meaning of legal professionalism in such sites, it offers three overlapping ‘ideal types’ of cause lawyers: (a) struggle lawyers, (b) human rights activists, and (c) a ‘pragmatic moral community’. The chapter concludes by re‐examining the legitimating frameworks typically employed by each ideal type of lawyer.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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