Date of Degree

2-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Lucia Trimbur

Subject Categories

American Politics | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law and Politics | Law and Race | Law and Society | Legal Profession | Legal Theory | Nonprofit Organizations Law | Other Legal Studies | Politics and Social Change

Keywords

social justice, lawyers, law, interviews, social change, law and society

Abstract

Lawyers in the U.S. who attempt to advocate for social justice issues, often on behalf of those communities most targeted by government institutions and oppressive legal systems, have unique perspectives into the challenges of using the law to create transformative change. This thesis examines the voices of over a dozen attorneys fighting not only on behalf of their clients, but also wrestling with how to best use a set of legal tools not meant for dismantling systems of power. Listening to how these legal advocates navigate their roles inside a system of laws created to consolidate rather than distribute power can provide greater insights into the potential (or lack of) for using “the law” in support of social justice, as well as important lessons for other lawyers, activists and organizers.

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