What Did the Lawyers Do During the ‘War’? Neutrality, Conflict and the Culture of Quietism

35 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011

See all articles by Kieran McEvoy

Kieran McEvoy

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law

Date Written: May 2011

Abstract

Using Northern Ireland as a case study, this paper explores how lawyers responded to the challenges of entrenched discrimination, sustained political violence and an emerging peace process. Drawing upon the literature of the sociology of lawyering, it examines whether lawyers can or should be more than ‘paid technicians’ in such circumstances. It focuses in particular upon a number of ‘critical junctures’ in the legal history of the jurisdiction and uncouples key elements of the local legal culture which contributed to an ethos of quietism. The paper argues that the version of legal professionalism that emerged in Northern Ireland was contingent and socially constructed and, with notable exceptions, obfuscated a collective failure of moral courage. It concludes that facing the truth concerning past silence is fundamental to a properly embedded rule of law and a more grounded notion of what it means to be a lawyer in a conflict.

Suggested Citation

McEvoy, Kieran, What Did the Lawyers Do During the ‘War’? Neutrality, Conflict and the Culture of Quietism (May 2011). The Modern Law Review, Vol. 74, Issue 3, pp. 350-384, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1830960 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.2011.00851.x

Kieran McEvoy (Contact Author)

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN
Ireland

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