The Democratic Roots of Collaborative Lawyering

95 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2005

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 4, 2005


This Article reinterprets collaborative lawyering - and its call for progressive lawyers to collaborate with clients and communities to jointly pursue social change - as part of a participatory democratic tradition of active self-government by engaged citizens. Rejecting conventional views that collaborative lawyering primarily grows out of postmodernist social theory, the Article details this lawyering's deep affinity with John Dewey's modern recasting of Athenian and Jeffersonian ideas and with the early 1960s' practice of Ella Baker, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and New Left activists. It argues that a democratic lens reveals the distinctive values underlying collaborative lawyers' commitment to ordinary citizens' robust participation in collective efforts to reshape society - values that are at odds with competing visions of democracy and lawyering that place expert professionals at the center of such efforts.

Keywords: collaborative lawyering, rebellious lawyering, political lawyering, participatroy democracy, deliberative democracy, John Dewey, Ella Baker, law and organizing

Suggested Citation

Piomelli, Ascanio, The Democratic Roots of Collaborative Lawyering (October 4, 2005). NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 05/06-1, Available at SSRN: or

Ascanio Piomelli (Contact Author)

UC Hastings Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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