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27 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 231 (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.

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