Collaborative Lawyering in Transnational Human Rights Advocacy

21 Clinical L. Rev. 255

28 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2015

See all articles by Benjamin Hoffman

Benjamin Hoffman

Columbia Law School - Human Rights Clinic; EarthRights International

Marissa Vahlsing

EarthRights International

Date Written: Fall 2014


The practice of transnational human rights lawyering to date has been largely divorced from many of the contributions of U.S. poverty and environmental justice lawyers who have adopted critical lawyering methodologies seeking to amplify community power and serve their clients’ visions of justice. This paper is a first step towards translating those critical lawyering methodologies into practical guidance for transnational human rights advocates. The paper begins by drawing out common themes from the critical lawyering methodologies. It then discusses how the dominant methodology for human rights advocacy fails to incorporate these critical lawyering methodologies, and how the primary critiques of human rights advocacy do not provide practical guidance for practitioners interested in instituting more critical methodologies. The authors draw upon their own experiences as practitioners supporting indigenous communities in the Amazon struggling against multinational oil companies, and the lessons of the critical methodologies, to then present a practical and detailed guide for implementing an effective model of “transnational collaborative lawyering.” The paper concludes with a series of questions to guide further refinement of this methodology.

Keywords: Human Rights, Collaborative Lawyering, Community Lawyering, Transnational, Advocacy, Critical, Methodology

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Benjamin and Hoffman, Benjamin and Vahlsing, Marissa, Collaborative Lawyering in Transnational Human Rights Advocacy (Fall 2014). 21 Clinical L. Rev. 255, Available at SSRN:

Benjamin Hoffman (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School - Human Rights Clinic ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

EarthRights International ( email )

United States

Marissa Vahlsing

EarthRights International ( email )

United States

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