Lawyers Changing Lives: A Narrative Study of Progressive Lawyering (1968-2018)

Kinghan, Jacqueline A. 2019. Lawyers Changing Lives: A Narrative Study of Progressive Lawyering (1968-2018). Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis investigates how, and why, lawyers pursue social change. The progressive lawyering movement has been subject to limited analysis to date, yet the stories of those lawyers working within it allow us to develop a richer understanding of social justice legal practice across public and private spaces; and the links between personal, professional and cultural identity. As a lawyer who works at the intersection of legal education and practice in access to justice and human rights, I take a reflexive ethnographic approach using narrative methodology to capture the stories of lawyers working to positively transform law and policy in the UK over the last fifty years. Underpinned by theories of cause lawyering and legal mobilisation, the thesis argues that it is vital to understand the positions that progressive lawyers collectively take in order to frame the connections they make between their personal and professional lives, the tools they use to achieve social change, as well as ethical tensions presented by their work. I interrogate how lawyers’ networks facilitate their collective positioning and influence their strategic decision-making, which in turn shape their interactions with social activists, with other lawyers and with the state itself. Themes of class and social mobility are relevant to the study, which is inspired by widening access to the profession. The principal aim of the thesis is to describe and define the collective identity of the progressive lawyering movement in the UK and to highlight the importance of sustaining the movement in the context of cuts to legal aid, social welfare reforms and wider pressures on the justice system.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Cause lawyering, collective identity, legal professionalism, human rights

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31 May 2019

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Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2019 09:25

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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