Nelson Mandela and the Lawyer as Agent for Social Change

The Professional Lawyer, Vol. 22 No. 2

Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper 2014-6

6 Pages Posted: Last revised: 22 May 2014

See all articles by Justin Hansford

Justin Hansford

Howard University School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center; Saint Louis University - School of Law; University of the Witwatersrand Law School; Harvard University Chalres Warren Center

Date Written: March 12, 2014

Abstract

On December 5, 2013, a preeminently honorable man, perhaps the most admired in the world, passed away. That man was Nelson Mandela, and he was a lawyer.

Mandela’s surpassing prominence came not from writing a groundbreaking law review article, or from dazzling court watchers with a brilliant closing argument in a high profile trial (save the historic “speech from the dock” that he gave at his own). Mandela’s singular gift to civilization – his inspiration and leadership of South Africa’s peaceful transition from Apartheid rule to multi-racial, constitutional democracy – will not be known by most people as the provision of a “legal service.” Indeed, relatively few among the millions who revere Mandela will perceive the formidable legal mind at work behind his history-making achievements. But as much as anything, it was Mandela’s mastery of the lawyer’s art that enabled him to build a case that changed the world.

Mandela was a lawyer’s lawyer. And his story is a lesson to all that living the lawyer’s life, at its best, engenders the skills and character traits that can empower people to make a difference in their community, their nation, and beyond.

Keywords: Nelson Mandela, Social Justice, South Africa

Suggested Citation

Hansford, Justin, Nelson Mandela and the Lawyer as Agent for Social Change (March 12, 2014). The Professional Lawyer, Vol. 22 No. 2, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper 2014-6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2407857 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2407857

Justin Hansford (Contact Author)

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University of the Witwatersrand Law School ( email )

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South Africa

Harvard University Chalres Warren Center ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.justinhansford.com

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