Resistances and Possibilities: A Critical and Practical Look at Public Interest Lawyering

19 N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change 687-719

34 Pages Posted: 28 May 2012 Last revised: 7 Nov 2013

See all articles by Ruth Buchanan

Ruth Buchanan

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Louise G. Trubek

University of Wisconsin Law School

Date Written: 1992

Abstract

In this article, we attempt to illustrate the “critical lawyering” perspective in three ways: first, by identifying some aspects of the traditional approaches to public interest lawyering rejected by the critical lawyers; second, by providing an overview of the critical lawyer’s constructive vision; and third, by recounting the stories of two new practitioners as they negotiate difficult transitions from traditional to critical lawyering approaches. We then make a number of observations regarding the matrix of personal, professional, and practical obstacles faced by public interest practitioners who seek to radically change their approach and realize the transformative potential of the critical lawyering vision. We seek both to advance critical lawyering as a viable alternative to traditional public interest practice and to explore the practical difficulties of its realization. We hope that this article may both inspire practitioners of public interest law to begin to rethink their own practices, as well as contribute to an emerging body of scholarship by examining some of the practical barriers to the realization of the critical lawyering vision.

Keywords: public interest lawerying, critical lawyering, public interest law

JEL Classification: J21, J78, K31

Suggested Citation

Buchanan, Ruth and Trubek, Louise G., Resistances and Possibilities: A Critical and Practical Look at Public Interest Lawyering (1992). 19 N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change 687-719. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2068794

Ruth Buchanan (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Louise G. Trubek

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

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