Article Title

Movement Lawyering

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

27 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 1 (2020)


This article examines the relation between movement lawyering and

American legal theory, explores the meaning and content of movement

lawyering in the contemporary American context, and reflects on the

implications of movement lawyering for the theory and practice of

access to justice around the globe. It suggests that the rise of movement

lawyering signals frustration with process-oriented solutions to

fundamental problems of inequality and discrimination in the legal

system, and challenges access to justice proponents to frame their work

in connection with a political strategy that builds on movements for

progressive legal change. In this sense, the article suggests that

movement lawyering offers occasion for hope: a sign of ambition among

a generation of lawyers eager to strengthen alliances with marginalized

communities in the pursuit of a transformative social vision that

reclaims government from the clutches of neoliberalism and nativism,

while crafting a progressive vision of social justice that attends to, but

moves beyond, access to legal knowledge, dispute resolution, lawyers,

and courts. In the end, the real promise of movement lawyering may

thus be in repowering a contemporary dialogue-less freighted by the

critical debates of the past-in which scholars and practitioners can

create a new account, more rooted in sustained empirical inquiry, of the

conditions in which lawyers may align with social movements to

challenge the ravages of inequality in the United States and other

liberal democracies.

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