'Think Glocal, Act Glocal': The Praxis of Social Justice Lawyering in the Global Era
Western New England University School of Law
Clinical Law Review, Vol. 15, p. 55, 2008
Millions of people in the world struggle to survive in extreme economic deprivation, and deteriorating conditions have highlighted the failure of international development policies to "lift all boats." The complex and globalized context of poverty compels social justice lawyers to innovate transnational advocacy strategies, expanding human rights norms as part of those efforts. This Article suggests a cross-border, collaborative advocacy model for clinical education. The model is premised on theories of global interconnectedness that integrate progressive lawyering, social change theory and anti-poverty work in the global era, thereby contributing to the discourse about and praxis of combating international economic injustice. Specifically, the Article proposes a clinical partnership with a Chinese law school to advance workers' rights in China and across the globe. Because China commands unparalleled power in setting working conditions, the consequences of attacking international indifference and inaction toward abysmal labor standards in China will reverberate for low wage workers throughout the world. In targeting the particularly vulnerable low-skilled migrant Chinese work force, the clinic would incorporate culturally sensitive lawyering tactics designed to nurture the incipient legal consciousness among Chinese workers and provide legal representation that can begin to elevate labor standards for low-wage laborers across borders. This pioneering model inaugurates a new paradigm of the "rule of law" that incorporates explicit social justice goals rather than the purportedly neutral concepts that have been historically advanced. Although the piece proposes a clinical template, the underlying theory can inspire broader transnational advocacy collaborations that engender the rights-consciousness, strategic alliances and global solidarity that are necessary precursors to meaningful social change.
Keywords: globalization, labor rights, clinical, economic rights, economic justice, economic inequality, transnational lawyering, poverty, workers' rights, economic development, sweatshop, human rights, China, cause lawyering, social justice
JEL Classification: D63, I31, I38, O19, O15, P33
Date posted: January 16, 2008 ; Last revised: September 1, 2013
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