Mediated Justice: Lawyers and Social Workers in the Chilean Legal Aid Service, 1932-1960s
35 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016
Date Written: May 5, 2015
This article deals with the history of the Chilean Legal Aid Service from its creation in 1932 until the 1960s, the institution that served as the main legal intermediary between the lower classes and the justice system. By focusing on how the Legal Aid Service’s professional staff — lawyers and social workers — used this institution to define their professional identity, and on how they conceived of their role as mediators, I argue that this institution promoted a system of legal intermediation that privileged conciliation over contentious litigation, and that it worked as a multiple-layered screen between popular demands and the justice system. This reveals why, in comparison to the progressive inclusion of the poor in new welfare state agencies in mid-twentieth century Chile, the judicial system appeared as a conservative and exclusionary force: legal aid had precisely for purpose that the most radical demands could not reach the courts.
Keywords: Legal Aid, Legal History, Legal Profession, Social Work, Chile, Access to Justice
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