La gran lucha: Latina and Latino Lawyers, Breaking the Law on Principle, and Confronting the Risks of Representation

90 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016

See all articles by Marc-Tizoc González

Marc-Tizoc González

University of New Mexico School of Law

Date Written: 2016


In a time when people in the United States have been taking to the streets en masse to protest unjust sociolegal conditions like police brutality and the draconian enforcement of immigration laws, the time is ripe to re-conceptualize what it means to break the law on principle. Twenty-five years ago, Harvard Law Dean Martha L. Minow conceptualized “the risks of representation” for lawyers whose clients “entertain breaking the law as one of their strategies for achieving social change[.]” Responding substantively to Minow’s ideas, Houston Law Professor Michael A. Olivas presented three case studies to illuminate the risks of nonrepresentation, terminated representation, and truncated representation. Taking Minow’s and Olivas’s insights seriously, Professor González applies them to current sociolegal situations in the United States like Central American children and women who seek asylum, immigrant workers at industrial food processing plants, and social activists indicted by racially compromised grand jury systems. Delving deeply into the ethical implications of representing clients “when the state regime is the law breaker,” González proffers the concept of La gran lucha (the great struggle) to advance “the understanding that our pasts are not merely multicolored: rather, our diverse heritages wind through centuries of socio-legal struggle, which transcend the current nation state.” He concludes by presenting a partial history of Chicana/o and other Mexican American lawyers in California and Texas in order to contextualize the efforts of lawyers, and clients, who seek to create social change today within actual lineages and fictive genealogies of past lawyers who confronted the risks of representation.

Keywords: protest, sociolegal, represent, risk, immigration, principle, lawyer, client, Central America, refugee, asylum, Postville, Chicano, Latina, Olivas, Minow, child, women, Hernandez, Acosta, grand jury, Mexican, California, Texas, social change, lucha, slowdown, strike, huelga, fictive genealogies

Suggested Citation

González, Marc Tizoc, La gran lucha: Latina and Latino Lawyers, Breaking the Law on Principle, and Confronting the Risks of Representation (2016). 13 Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal 61 (2016) , St. Thomas University School of Law (Florida) Research Paper No. 2017-01, Available at SSRN:

Marc Tizoc González (Contact Author)

University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

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