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Face-Ing the Other: An Ethics of Encounter and Solidarity in Legal Services Practice

51 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011  

Marie A. Failinger

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 1999

Abstract

In this article, the author proposes that those who work in any capacity with impoverished clients and embattled minority communities imagine practice from within Levinas' key images. First, that ethics is first philosophy - that knowledge of the self, the Other and the context in which ethical action is possible does not precede ethical understanding, decision-making and action, but that rather that we become human in the ethical encounter with the incommensurable Other. Second, that representing a client is in each moment an encounter with the face of the Other. We look up into the face of the Other calling to us, looming over us, vulnerable. In this ambivalent moment, we face both the draw of the Other and the temptation to encapsulate, reduce, diminish, totalize the Other, to erase the chasms of incommensurability that threaten our control of our world.

Keywords: poverty law, Office of the Economic Opportunity, Legal Services Corporations, poverty-lawyering problem, non-relationship, outsiders, insiders, Emmanuel Levinas

Suggested Citation

Failinger, Marie A., Face-Ing the Other: An Ethics of Encounter and Solidarity in Legal Services Practice (January 1, 1999). Fordham Law Review Vol. 67, p. 2071, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1929483

Marie A. Failinger (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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