Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

27 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 1 (2020)


In order to contribute from a situated perspective to a global

narrative of access to justice, in the next sections I will trace the origins

of compassionate and cause lawyering in the history of Chilean legal aid

and training. Part II will explain how legal assistance to the poor was

codified as a duty of legal professionals during the Middle Ages, in both

canon law and in Castilian legislation. Part III will show that practical

legal training, both in Spain and in Chile, began much later as the

result of the ambition among prominent members of the legal profession

to create institutional spaces that could supplement university

education-still devoted until the eighteenth century solely to canon

and Roman law-with knowledge of royal legislation as applied by the

royal courts. During the nineteenth century, the University of Chile

included in its legal curriculum the study of national legislation, and

absorbed the function of providing practical legal training to future

practitioners through moot courts. When law clinics were created in the

late 1960s, they were part of a number of innovations promoted by

progressive law school reformers inspired by legal education in the

United States. The conservative reaction that took over law schools

after the 1973 coup against President Allende, however, rid law schools

of disruptive instructors and students: a conjuncture that transformed a

depoliticized version of compassionate lawyering into the dominant

paradigm of clinical legal education among elite law schools in the

capital for decades. Part IV will show that this only changed in the

1990s, when a relatively new elite law school, Universidad Diego

Portales (UDP), opened a public interest law clinic as part of a network

of Latin American public interest clinics funded by the Ford

Foundation. Part V will discuss the contrasting challenges faced by

models of clinical legal education inspired by cause lawyering and

compassionate lawyering. Part VI will offer a few remarks about the

need to promote cause lawyering in Latin America.

Available for download on Saturday, February 15, 2025