Cause lawyers are powerful gatekeepers to the political and legal institutions where the dynamics between law and social change get played out. Yet, after years of research, we still seem far from a settled picture of cause lawyering and cause lawyers. In this article, we first describe the social and cultural practices that constitute cause lawyering. Second, we link cause lawyering to the clients served—from sophisticated social movement organizations to ordinary people. We show that cause lawyering is powerfully shaped by the clients served and by the contexts in which that lawyer–client relationship is situated. Finally, we examine the political context of cause lawyering. We also address larger questions in this research tradition: Is cause lawyering different from other forms of lawyering? How and why does cause lawyering produce tension between the lawyers and their clients? Does cause lawyering generate different kinds of professional and political identities?


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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