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Abstract from

The Cause Lawyer's Cause

Frank Munger is a Professor of Law at New York Law School. He has been General Editor of the Law & Society Review, President of the Law and Society Association, Chair of the Section on Sociology of Law of the American Sociological Association, and Academic Dean of Antioch Law School.

The promise of human rights in South Africa may depend significantly on the course chosen by a professional and relatively independent South African judiciary. But what about the promise of human rights in other developing states which lack a judiciary with similar potential? Cause lawyers, increasingly visible in many of these new states, are presumed carriers of liberal legalism and democracy and celebrated for their courageous defence of human rights even in the absence of an independent court system. This comment argues that celebration of cause lawyers may reflect presumptions about their causes that are questionable even in the Global North, but decidedly premature in the Global South.

(2010) 28 No 2 Law in Context 95

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