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31/07/2017 09:43

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DP 0223 - Lawyers, Governance, And Globalization: The Diverging Paths Of “Public Interest Law” Across The Americas

Fábio de Sá e Silva/ Brasília, July 2017

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In recent years, “public interest law” (PIL) has become a frequent component in conversations about law and policy around the globe. While this worldwide manifestation of a professional and political script that thus far seemed to be typically so American suggests a remarkable process of diffusion, its mechanics and significance are yet to be examined more deeply and systematically. The available account contends that this process has been one of “convergence” and “adaptation”. Yet, there are good empirical and theoretical reasons to subject this account to further examination. Drawing from a comparative and international empirical research on the everyday lives of “public interest lawyers” in the United States and Latin America, this article stresses significant differences in the ways US and LA lawyers have structured “public interest law” – thus challenging the idea of convergence –, while also unveiling factors in the rich histories of professional and political development in the studied contexts, which initially account for such differentiation. These findings call for further research, but already speak to a variety of theories about institutional development in times of globalization, such as theories of institutional isomorphism and field constitution.

Keywords: lawyers; governance; globalization; public interest law; legal mobilization; access to justice.



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