The Practice of Law as an Obstacle to Justice: Chinese Lawyers at Work
Maurer School of Law
Law & Society Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 1-38, 2006
This article helps strengthen our comparative and theoretical understanding of lawyers as gatekeepers to justice by analyzing the screening practices of lawyers in a non-Western context. The explanation for Chinese lawyers' aversion to representing workers with labor grievances focuses on their own working conditions, on the organization of their legal labor, and on their evaluations of the moral character of prospective clients. By linking the screening practices of Chinese lawyers to their socioeconomic insecurity and to popular stereotypes informing and legitimating their screening decisions, this article identifies institutional and cultural obstacles not only to the official justice system but also to cause lawyering. After establishing motives for screening clients, this article then demonstrates lawyers' screening methods: by defining legal reality in strategic and often misleading ways, lawyers use the law as a weapon against the interests of the individuals who seek their help.
Keywords: lawyers, legal profession, china, access to justice
JEL Classification: P20, P30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 20, 2006
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