Staying Alive: Public Interest Law in Contemporary Latin America

International Review of Constitutionalism, Forthcoming

Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-48

40 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2009

See all articles by Stephen Meili

Stephen Meili

University of Minnesota Law School; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies

Date Written: December 3, 2009


This paper explores the current state of public interest lawyering in three Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Based on a series of open-ended interviews with lawyers, judges and social movement activists, it compares public interest lawyering in these countries now with how it was practiced when the author interviewed some of the same individuals in the early to mid 1990s. Its analysis is set within the context of important geopolitical and socio-legal phenomena: the current global economic crisis and the judicialization of politics and constitutionalization of rights that has swept across the region over the past two decades. The paper explores how these developments have influenced public interest lawyers, particularly in their interactions with various social movements. It also highlights the opportunities and challenges that these developments pose for public interest lawyers throughout Latin America.

Keywords: public interest law; cause lawyering; Latin America; comparative public interest law

Suggested Citation

Meili, Stephen, Staying Alive: Public Interest Law in Contemporary Latin America (December 3, 2009). International Review of Constitutionalism, Forthcoming, Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-48, Available at SSRN:

Stephen Meili (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

Mondale Hall
229-19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55104
United States

University of Oxford - Border Criminologies ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

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