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The View From Below: Public Interest Lawyering, Social Change, and Adjudication

61 UCLA Law Review Discourse 182 (2013)

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-136

24 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2013  

Douglas NeJaime

Yale University - Law School

Abstract

In Public Interest Lawyering: A Contemporary Perspective, Professors Alan Chen and Scott Cummings provide a nuanced and thorough account of the relationship between lawyering and social change. In this Review Essay, I explore how key insights from Chen and Cummings’ textbook could impact the way students approach adjudication, which remains the primary subject of instruction in law school classrooms. Continuing the marriage equality case study with which Chen and Cummings conclude, I analyze the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor through the lens of Public Interesting Lawyering. I argue that rather than understand the decisions as instances of top-down, court-ordered reform, students would locate the Court’s intervention within a bottom-up, dynamic process of legal and social change. As Public Interest Lawyering reveals — and as the Court’s approach in Perry and Windsor confirms — lawyers, litigants, and activists, rather than judges, drive that process.

Suggested Citation

NeJaime, Douglas, The View From Below: Public Interest Lawyering, Social Change, and Adjudication. 61 UCLA Law Review Discourse 182 (2013); UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-136. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2324380

Douglas NeJaime (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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