What is “Rebellious Lawyering”? Gerald P. López’s Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice was published more than 20 years ago, back in 1992. Shortly thereafter, the term Rebellious Lawyering came into popular usage among legal scholars and law practitioners who serve and write about low income and underserved communities and populations.
The use of the term Rebellious Lawyering caught on fast, and continues to spread and inform lawyers to this day: how they could think about their work, how to listen to clients and constituents, how to help people to help themselves, how to self-reflect, analyze, and be aware of their own motives and limitations, how definitions and measures of progress and success must be articulated and continually recalibrated.
Rebellious Lawyering is a legal strategy against racial profiling
“Gerald López conceptualized ‘rebellious lawyering’ as a way of empowering poor clients through grassroots, community-based advocacy facilitated by lawyers. Others have sought to import those teachings to immigration and related fields. The fundamental idea is for lawyers to attempt to pursue meaningful social change while at the same time employing community activism to empower the subordinated who can serve as their own advocates in future struggles when the lawyers are long gone.”
Excerpted from Kevin R. Johnson, HOW RACIAL PROFILING IN AMERICA BECAME THE LAW OF THE LAND: UNITED STATES v. BRIGNONI-PONCE AND WHREN v. UNITED STATES AND THE NEED FOR TRULY REBELLIOUS LAWYERING, 98 Geo. L.J. 1005 (2010): http://georgetownlawjournal.org/files/pdf/98-4/Johnson.PDF
Kevin R. Johnson is Dean and Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies at UC Davis School of Law. Visit here for more on Kevin R. Johnson and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is an effective style of practice of law in and among low income communities
“I refer to this style of practice as… ‘rebellious lawyering,’ a phrase used by one of the prominent scholars in the field, Gerald López…. Lawyers working in low income and poorly resourced communities as well as teachers and law students working in clinical programs engage… in this style of lawyering [which] envisions lawyers becoming a part of the community in which they work, bringing to the community the knowledge and expertise that they have gained from their education…. They collaborate with the community and together work toward solutions to the communities’ problems.”
Shauna I. Marshall, Emerita Professor of Law at UC Hastings College of Law, served as Academic Dean from 2005 to 2013. Click here for more on Shauna I. Marshall and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is a method of effecting social change through lawyering
“Avoiding subordination in the attorney-client relationship equates to lawyers truly valuing their clients’ informed judgment and skills, and recognizing the necessity of active roles for clients in the collaborative process. In the rebellious lawyering model, social change is accomplished by this partnership with and empowerment of clients and communities; the goal of collaboration becomes more than a simple ‘win.’”
Bill Ong Hing is Professor of Law at University of San Francisco School of Law and UC Davis School of Law and Founder of and General Counsel for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Visit here for more about Bill Ong Hing and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is an alternative lawyering model
“…Gerald López’s ‘rebellious lawyering’ critique… jolted individual lawyers from their entrenched practices. Rebellious lawyering gave rise to productive self-reflection and external critiques, resulting in the now canonical models of collaborative lawyering, client-centered lawyering, and critical lawyering. In addition to revising our thinking about the lawyer-client relationship, rebellious lawyering led to the development of alternative lawyering models, including community-based law offices, lawyering connected to community organizing, and community development advocacy. These models reflected a distrust of the law and a ‘view that the law is not capable of protecting the interests of the poor and subordinated.’”
“Regarding lawyers and clients, the rebellious call to reject lawyer-client hierarchy and to respect the cultural and communal factors that shape our lawyering remains important. Social justice lawyers must be vigilant against the creep of privilege (whether based on education, class, race, gender, sexuality, or language) and the temptation to dominate the client.”
Excerpted from E. Tammy Kim, LAWYERS AS RESOURCE ALLIES IN WORKERS’ STRUGGLES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, 13 N.Y. City L. Rev. 213 (2009): https://cdp.urbanjustice.org/sites/default/files/etkim_jan11.pdf
E. Tammy Kim is Staff Writer at Al Jazeera America. Please visit here for more about E. Tammy Kim and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering, in four easy-to-remember principles
A component “of [Gerald López’s] rebellious lawyering is association with everyday living and with the stories of ordinary people as a primary means of understanding and of transformation.
Another is collaboration with other lawyers and with ‘lay’ lawyers, nonprofessionals skillfully immersed in their communities.
A third component is demystification — that is, making law accessible to everyone and making subordinated people’s sense of the world accessible to lawyers.
The fourth is the fundamental reorientation of lawyering toward education in support of self-help.”
“Nonprofit law offices, like nonprofit lawyers, should, as [Jerry] López urges, amend themselves over time.”
Excerpted from Milner S. Ball, POWER FROM THE PEOPLE, 92 Mich. L. Rev. 1725 (1994).
MILNER S. BALL, April 10, 1936 – April 6, 2011 was the emeritus Caldwell Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Georgia School of Law and a Presbyterian minister. Visit here for more about Milner S. Ball and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering as theory, ideology, and vision
Artika Tyner has written:
“[Jerry López’s] Rebellious lawyering provides a theoretical framework for action research and fostering cooperative, collaborative processes. Rebellious lawyers’ vision of social justice requires proactiveness in effectuating social change by reflecting and ‘usher[ing] in the world we hope to create.’ In envisioning changing the world as we know it, one’s imagination can be unleashed.”
“The ideology of rebellious lawyering is based upon the premise of fostering cooperative and collaborative processes. Rebellious lawyers integrate themselves and their clients into ‘a large network of cooperating problem-solvers.’
Dr. Artika Tyner is the SSRC Emerging Scholar for January-March 2015. SSRC, or Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse, is an initiative of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit this page for more on Artika Tyner and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is about achieving social change by empowering clients
“’Give us something we can use.’ For those of us engaged in the practice of law for social change, this is a familiar admonition directed at scholars who have developed theories on the transformation of law and the legal system.”
“Professor López’s Rebellious Lawyering is something all of us—professional and lay lawyers—can definitely use.”
“The central tenet of rebellious lawyering is the empowerment of clients. Progressive lawyers who engage clients in problem solving can shift power from themselves to clients, enabling clients to collaborate in the process of social change. In this way, the lawyer-client relationship can provide a seed for the shifting of social arrangements that can empower subordinated groups.”
“As López states, ‘if people subordinated by political and social life can learn to recognize and value and extend their own problem-solving know-how, they . . . may gain confidence in their ability to handle situations that they would otherwise experience as utterly foreign and unmanageable, with or without a lawyer as representative.’”
Angelo N. Ancheta is the Executive Director, Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center and Associate Clinical Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
Visit here for more about Angelo N. Ancheta and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is a “powerful vision of small scale, grassroots movements for change”
“In Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice, López propounds a vision of lawyers as collaborators with nonlawyers in grassroots organizations to bring about social change.”
“López’s powerful vision of small scale, grassroots movements for change in which lawyers work in egalitarian collaboration with community groups has resonated with many progressive scholars and lawyers over the last two decades.”
“López’s larger project is to propose a theory of how social change occurs. His rebellious practice vision reflects his view that working at the grassroots level with non-lawyers is more effective than advocating within the legal system.”
Read the article in its entirety, here: Rebecca Sharpless, MORE THAN ONE LANE WIDE: AGAINST HIERARCHIES OF HELPING IN PROGRESSIVE LEGAL ADVOCACY, 19 Clinical L. Rev. 347 (2012).
Rebecca Sharpless is a Clinical Professor, Director of the Immigration Clinic, and Roger Schindler Fellow at the University of Miami School of Law. Visit here for more about Rebecca Sharpless and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is an “aspirational vision of practice”
“[Rebellious lawyers] strive to learn about alternative worlds and ways of knowing and thus renounce the regnant privilege to proclaim absolute truth. For López, this renunciation is the well-spring of rebellious lawyering.”
“To López, truth is neither universal nor given. Indeed, there is no truth that ‘makes sense of everything in the world.’ Rather, truth is contingent, negotiated, and partial. It arises out of collaboration between lawyers and clients working jointly as co-eminent practitioners in local contexts.”
Excerpted from Anthony V. Alfieri, PRACTICING COMMUNITY, 107 Harv. L. Rev. 1747 (1994).
Anthony V. Alfieri, Professor of Law and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar, is the Founder and Director of the Center for Ethics and Public Service, and the Founder of the Historic Black Church Program, at the University of Miami School of Law.
Visit here for more about Anthony V. Alfieri and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is an “empowering dynamic that encompasses a community-based approach to reform”
“In rallying attorneys to challenge the traditional model of attorney omnipotence and client subordination, Gerald Lopez championed ‘rebellious lawyering.’ Lopez encouraged lawyers to discard the model of lawyering he characterizes as ‘regnant’ and adopt a more empowering dynamic that encompasses a community-based approach to reform. Many others echo the call for community-based lawyering.”
Excerpted from Lauren Carasik, JUSTICE IN THE BALANCE: AN EVALUATION OF ONE CLINIC’S ABILITY TO HARMONIZE TEACHING PRACTICAL SKILLS, ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM WITH A SOCIAL JUSTICE MISSION, 16 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Soc. Just. 23 (2006).
Lauren Carasik is a clinical professor of law and the director of the international human rights clinic at the Western New England University School of Law. Visit this page for more about Lauren Carasik and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering offers “the unlikely metaphor of the lawyer as rebel”
“The Vision of ‘Rebellious Lawyering’: Although Gerald P. López, like [Duncan] Kennedy, uses the unlikely metaphor of the lawyer as rebel, his focus is far different.”
“López has emphasized the need to depaternalize the practice of law by working with clients to develop their own empowerment….”
“López’s vision has particular resonance in labor law, where many workers are unrepresented by counsel and even unions often rely on unlicensed advocates to handle arbitrations, negotiations, and other ‘legal’ matters.”
Excerpted from John W. Teeter, Jr., INTO THE THICKET: PURSUING MORAL AND POLITICAL VISIONS IN LABOR LAW, 46 J. Legal Educ. 252 (1996).
John W. Teeter, Jr. is a Professor of Law at St. Mary’s School of Law. For more about John W. Teeter, Jr. and Rebellious Lawyering.
Rebellious Lawyering is a model practice of law that warns against “the dangerous potential for disempowerment, cooptation, and re-inscription of inequality”
“Recent voices call for and envision a role for lawyers in social struggles, even as they remain cautious of engaging lawyers in community organizing efforts.
Proponents of what poverty law scholar Gerald López has famously called ‘rebellious lawyering,’ a model which is designed to eliminate some of the pitfalls of ‘regnant lawyering’ for social change, warn against the dangerous potential for disempowerment, cooptation, and re-inscription of inequality.
In many ways, the chief weapon that rebellious lawyering models provide is their knowledge of the potential harm that lawyering poses, which allows them to be alert to such dangers and consciously work against them.
Accordingly, rebellious lawyering models remain highly skeptical of lawyers’ roles and the risks that lawyers pose to community organizing and social change efforts. Cause lawyering literature suggests a greater fluidity of power. Many people use the law strategically for their own goals, including as a tool to challenge dominant identities and narratives and what the law condones as acceptable and possible.
Our relationship with the law and whether and how we should employ legal tools are under constant negotiation.”
Corey S. Shdaimah is Associate Professor and Academic Coordinator for the MSW/JD Dual Degree Program at University of Maryland School of Social Work. Visit this page for more about Corey S. Shdaimah and Rebellious Lawyering.
john a. powell on Rebellious Lawyering
“At some level, our collective interest in sharing the personal is recognition that the personal is seldom purely personal in the sense of being limited to the individual, but instead reaffirms our connection to one another and, in so doing, informs meaning. For a more comprehensive account of the life of a public interest lawyer, I suggest reading, GERALD P. LOPEZ, REBELLIOUS LAWYERING: ONE CHICANO’S VISION OF PROGRESSIVE LAW PRACTICE (1992).”
john a. powell, in RIGHTING THE LAW: SEEKING A HUMANE VOICE, 96 W. Va. L. Rev. 333 (1993-1994)
john a. powell is Professor of Law, Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion, and Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley School of Law; formerly National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Michelle S. Jacobs: “We need to engage more fully in ‘rebellious lawyering.’”
Michelle S. Jacobs:
“[W]e need to engage more fully in ‘rebellious lawyering.’ As delineated by Lopez, it is only when we engage in rebellious lawyering that we will truly allow our clients to participate as equals in decision-making process and thus as equals in the lawyer-client relationship.”
“Reflecting back to the case if DuJon Johnson, for example, if Cunningham and his students engaged in rebellious lawyering, they would be required to know something about the history of black-white relations in Ypslinati, Michigan.”
Excerpted from Michelle S. Jacobs, PEOPLE FROM THE FOOTNOTES: THE MISSING ELEMENT IN CLIENT-CENTERED COUNSELING, 27 Golden Gate U. L. Rev. 345 (1997).
Michelle S. Jacobs is a Law Professor at University of Florida School of Law in Gainesville, Florida.
Marie A. Failinger on “Rebellious Lawyering” as Dialogical Praxis
Marie A. Failinger on “Rebellious Lawyering” as Dialogical Praxis:
“Dialogical praxis exemplifies many post-modern virtues. It abandons universality in the form of abstract justice for a practically and historically located practice: Thinking is in service of doing, and thinking starts with the here-and-now, not someone’s grand idea…. [A]s… some dialogical praxis theorists like Gerald López claim… problem-solving does not abandon theory, which is as necessary to rebellious lawyers as ‘close observation and sensible strategies [because it is vital to] an ability to maintain a long-range goal . . . while working toward the incremental accomplishment of less obviously radical tasks.’”
Cited from Marie A. Failinger, FACE-ING THE OTHER: AN ETHICS OF ENCOUNTER AND SOLIDARITY IN LEGAL SERVICES PRACTICE, 67 Fordham L. Rev. 2071 (1999).
Marie A. Failinger is a Law Professor at Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Jessica Feierman on “Rebellious Lawyering” methods in prison contexts
Jessica Feierman on “Rebellious Lawyering” methods in context of prison:
“[T]he concept of rebellious lawyering comes from the work of Gerald Lopez and its methods emphasize ‘a non hierarchical relationship between lawyer and client; a true collaboration between them in identifying and addressing problems and solutions; a bi-polar educational experience between lawyer and client and an exploration of non-legal collective action to fight oppression.’”
“Among the characteristics of rebellious lawyering that might be the most useful in the prison context are: (1) a critical examination of when and whether to use litigation; (2) an openness to alternative problem-solving techniques, particularly collective action inside and outside the prisons; and (3) an emphasis on non-hierarchical relationships between lawyers and clients resulting in strategies that emphasize client voice.”
Excerpted from Jessica Feierman, CREATIVE PRISON LAWYERING: FROM SILENCE TO DEMOCRACY, 11 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 249 (2004).
Jessica Feierman is Supervising Attorney at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Stephanie Tai on “Rebellious Lawyering” in Context of Environmental Justice
Stephanie Tai on “Rebellious Lawyering” in Context of Environmental Justice
“Critics of Lopez’s ‘rebellious lawyering’ model often point to successful community lawyering efforts that have emphasized traditional transactional client-oriented litigation rather than community empowerment. However, even lawyers of the traditional model attend community meetings and local protests, serve on community boards, and are reminded that ‘they are part of their communities.’ What is crucial may not be the lawyer’s method of operation, but rather, their ability to share their clients’ vantage points.”
Excerpted from Stephanie Tai, ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS AND THE RICHMOND LAOTIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY: A CASE STUDY IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, 6 Asian L.J. 189 (1999)
Stephanie Tai is Associate Professor of Law at University of Wisconsin School of Law.
Peter H. Schuck on “Rebellious Lawyering,” public law litigation, and social reform
Peter H. Schuck on “Rebellious Lawyering,” public law litigation, and social reform:
“[Gerald P. Lopez’s] Rebellious Lawyering is… an engagingly written, insightful, often moving argument in favor of a distinctive conception of professional responsibility by progressive lawyers: more humane, engaged, client-centered, self-abnegating, unheroic, and situational. All lawyers, progressive or not, should take up this challenge, for it invites us to ‘disenthrall ourselves,’ to ‘think anew’ about how and why we live in the law as we do.”
Excerpted from Peter H. Schuck, PUBLIC LAW LITIGATION AND SOCIAL REFORM, 102 Yale L.J. 1763 (1993).
Peter H. Schuck is Simeon E. Baldwin Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.
Susan R. Jones on “Rebellious Lawyering” and Community Economic Development
Susan R. Jones on “Rebellious Lawyering” and Community Economic Development:
“A seminal concept in the legal literature about lawyering for subordinated individuals and groups is the notion of rebellious lawyering. Rebellious lawyering (also known as critical lawyering) seeks to empower subordinated clients and questions whether legal intervention is good for the client’s material existence. Rebellious lawyering is juxtaposed to regnant (or traditional) lawyering. Regnant lawyering reflects the traditional paradigm of the preeminent problem solver, formally representing others primarily in a litigation setting.”
Excerpted from Susan R. Jones, SMALL BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: TRANSACTIONAL LAWYERING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE, 4 Clinical L. Rev. 195 (1997).
Susan R. Jones is Clinical Law Professor at George Washington University School of Law.
Alina Ball on the Role of Rebellious Lawyering in Community Economic Development
“Through their participation in [Community Economic Development], reentry lawyers will witness and be involved in the collaborative aspects of CED. If reentry lawyers are exposed to and included in the process of CED, then they will learn strategies for rebellious lawyering.”
“Rebellious lawyers are those lawyers who work with, not just on behalf of, subordinated people. In his book, López explains that ‘rebellious’ lawyers work face-to-face with their client, recognizing the dignity and power of those they try to help.’ These lawyers ‘open themselves to being educated by the subordinated and their allies about the traditions and experiences of subordinated life.’ A fundamental characteristic of rebellious lawyering is that these lawyers know how to collaborate effectively with other professionals to provide the most comprehensive problem-solving approaches for their clients.”
“The essence of rebellious lawyering can be learned and observed in the principles and practices of CED. Reentry lawyers who have a commitment to rebellious lawyering will provide better legal advocacy to one of the most marginalized populations within poor, inner-city neighborhoods. This collaborative approach to reentry services is necessary because research shows that reentry work is most effective when it is coordinated through multiple agencies and tied to larger community strategies. Thus, if reentry lawyers and their work are involved in the process of CED, it will also improve the effectiveness and success of the reentry services they offer to formerly incarcerated populations.”
Excerpted from Alina Ball, AN IMPERATIVE REDEFINITION OF “COMMUNITY”: INCORPORATING REENTRY LAWYERS TO INCREASE THE EFFICACY OF COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES, 55 UCLA L. Rev. 1883 (2008).
Victor M. Hwang on the Role of Rebellious Lawyering in Restoring Food Stamp Benefits to the Hmong Community
Victor M. Hwang argues that the Hmong campaign for justice demonstrates that rebellious lawyering is an optimistic alternative to addressing the current attacks on communities of color, despite the disagreement between race scholars and practitioners in preserving civil rights.
“Unlike regnant lawyering, which has been criticized for placing too much emphasis on the attorney and the legal system, or even traditional civil rights lawyering, which some believe places too much emphasis on the rule of law… rebellious lawyering perceives the law as only one of many tools in the campaign for social change. This approach treats the client as a partner in the struggle and engages in an ‘everything at once’ strategy. The practice… of… rebellious lawyering not only involves a client in the attorney’s legal case, but also integrates the attorney’s legal case into the client’s campaign for justice by conducting a simultaneous and coordinated attack in the courts of law, media, and public opinion.”
“This paper… analyze[s] the legal, educational, and organizing campaign in the recent struggle of the Hmong for restoration of food stamp benefits in the face of welfare reform as an example of the potential for strategic… rebellious lawyering.”
Victor M. Hwang is a San Francisco-based attorney with more than two decades of experience in family law, criminal law, civil rights, and immigration.
Alicia Alvarez on Gerald P. López’s Rebellious Lawyering: “lawyers ‘must know how to collaborate with other professional and lay allies’” and “‘open ourselves to being educated by the subordinated . . . about their traditions and experiences.’”
“Within the idea of ‘rebellious lawyering against subordination,’ lawyers ‘must know how to collaborate with other professional and lay allies.’ We ‘must understand how to educate those with whom [we] work about law and professional lawyering’ and ‘[we] must open ourselves to being educated by the subordinated . . . about their traditions and experiences.’ Lawyers need to be able to work with legal and non-legal approaches to problems; they must participate in–as well as build–coalitions. This form of lawyering contrasts with the regnant idea of lawyering, where lawyers formally represent clients, by working alone for them in a relationship where the lawyers dominate and the clients are only present when absolutely necessary. In the regnant model, lawyers work in isolation of ‘the know-how and problem solving sensibilities of others.’ The regnant lawyer equates what she does best and feels most comfortable doing, ‘with what most helps the politically and socially subordinated.’ As a result, social disputes are often resolved by litigation, regardless of whether some other strategy might make more sense.”
“Lawyers interested in working with community members more closely are drawn to community development as a lawyering strategy that seeks greater collaboration with client groups. Some see work with community organizations as allowing for the possibility of community empowerment. ‘The purpose of empowerment lawyering . . . is to enable a group to gain control of the forces which affect their lives.’ This type of work gives the lawyer the potential to join–rather than lead–the persons represented.”
Cited from Alicia Alvarez, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CLINICS: WHAT DOES POVERTY HAVE TO DO WITH THEM?, 34 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1269 (2007).
Prof. Alicia Alvarez is a clinical professor of law and director of the Community and Economic Development Clinic at University of Michigan School of Law.
Rebellious Lawyering, Marc Tizoc González, and LatCrit — Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory
Marc Tizoc González on the Role of Gerald P. López’s Rebellious Lawyering in LatCrit, Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory.
“Drawing on the emerging field of critical [geographic information systems (GIS)], and feminist and grounded-visualization approaches, [Denise] Pacheco and [Veronica N.] Velez contribute provocative ideas about “the politics of representation inherent in maps,” and situated knowledges “[that acknowledge] the positionality of the GIS mapmaker in constructing knowledge;” ultimately, they are interested in the possibilities of using GIS in classrooms “as a discursive tactic to create ‘countermaps,’ or … “subversive cartographies’ [that] challenge dominant representations of the world.” Synthesizing these concepts and practices into a “critical race spatial analysis in education,” presented by Professors Pacheco and Velez with Professor Daniel Solorzano at the 2007 American Education Research Association conference in Chicago, Professors Pacheco and Velez answer directly Professor Francisco Valdes’s adaptation of Professor Gerald López’s famous articulation of the rebellious idea of lawyering against subordination. They assert, ‘In order to adequately respond to social inequity, we must first understand how society functions and begin to envision the society we desire …. [We] must couple our analysis with active participation in the creation of communities that can wrestle with what it means to actually enact democracy and fairness.’”
Excerpted from Marc Tizoc González, CLUSTER INTRODUCTION: EDUCATION AND PEDAGOGY: COUNTERDISCIPLINARITY IN THE CRITICAL EDUCATION TRADITION IN LATCRIT THEORY, 8 Seattle J. for Soc. Just. 107 (2009).
Marc Tizoc González is Associate Professor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Amy Killelea on Cross Pollination of Gérard Lopez’s Rebellious Lawyering into the Practice of Medicine in Low Income and Marginalized Communities
“…I draw from Gerald López’s definition of the ‘rebellious lawyer’: They must know how to work with (not just on behalf of) women, low income people, people of color, gays and lesbians, the disabled, and the elderly. They must know how to collaborate with other professional and lay allies rather than ignoring the help that these other problem-solvers may provide in a given situation. They must understand how to educate those with whom they work, particularly about law and professional lawyering, and, at the same time, they must open themselves up to being educated by all those with whom they come in contact, particularly about the traditions and experiences of life on the bottom and at the margins.”
“[T]he cross pollination of ‘rebellious’ lawyering into the medical field could have far reaching normative effects on the provision of legal and medical services to people with HIV/AIDS, specifically by increasing trust within individual doctor patient relationships. As discussed in Part III(D), supra, in the context of health services to people with HIV/AIDS, especially members of marginalized populations, such as low income people and communities of color, the role of trust in clinical interactions has a significant impact on treatment adherence and health outcomes.”
“The medical legal partnership within a neighborhood center serves to amplify the voice of the marginalized. Instead of speaking on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS, the medical and legal communities speak with affected communities in a way that merges together Gerald López’s concept of ‘rebellious lawyering’ [and] ‘rebellious doctoring.’ This partnership between lawyers, doctors, and affected communities has potential to become an important tool for improving individual and community health beyond the HIV/AIDS context, and indeed will be relevant anywhere health intersects with poverty.”
Cited from Amy Killelea, COLLABORATIVE LAWYERING MEETS COLLABORATIVE DOCTORING: HOW A MULTIDISCIPLINARY PARTNERSHIP FOR HIV/AIDS SERVICES CAN IMPROVE OUTCOMES FOR THE MARGINALIZED SICK, 16 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 413 (2009).
Amy Killelea is the Associate Director of the Health Care Access Program at the National. Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).
Mark Egerman and Role of Gerald P. López’s Rebellious Lawyering in the Reproductive Rights of Inmates
“'[R]ebellious lawyering’ [is a vision of lawyering] where lawyers ground their work in the communities of the subordinated themselves, living with and working alongside their clients with a deep commitment to the community.”
“…López[‘s] model of rebellious lawyering certainly provides a superior model of representation where an attorney can better understand the problems facing a community, represent that community’s needs, allocate the community’s own resources, and conceive of real solutions. …[R]ebellious lawyering of that sort is significantly more likely to lead to representation that understands the clients. As far as respecting one’s clients, López has the upper hand… breaking down the barriers of prestige and exclusivity to better understand how to organize for change.”
Excerpted from Mark Egerman, RULES FOR RADICAL LAWYERS: ADVANCING THE ABORTION RIGHTS OF INMATES, 21 Colum. J. Gender & L. 46 (2011).
Christine Zuni Cruz: “Rebellious Lawyering” is seeing clients in “context of community”
“When stereotypes or overfamiliarization with both problems and people from a community begin to drive the lawyering of individuals, there is significant danger in the failure to see viable solutions that may be available or problems with the ‘standard’ approach and its applicability to an individual’s unique circumstance. An example of this is contained in the description of a lawyer in a progressive non-profit office in Gerald Lopez’ Rebellious Lawyering. Boz, a housing attorney in Lopez’ scenario, was seen as not expecting ‘more than a beaten down, resourceless, uncooperative client. The repertoire of formal strategies Boz seems willing to explore was as stingy and inflexible as her attitude toward clients. She handled her load ‘case by case’ in the most mechanical sense.’ This can occur when lawyers do not see their clients in context — but only in relation to their legal problems, and when they see them individually, without the context of community.”
Christine Zuni Cruz, [ON THE] ROAD BACK IN: COMMUNITY LAWYERING IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, 5 Clinical L. Rev. 557 (1999)
Christine Zuni Cruz is Dickason Professor and Associate Dean for the Indian Law Program at University of New Mexico School of Law.
Eric K. Yamamoto: Rebellious Lawyering is “antisubordination theorizing that focuses on practical community-centered lawyering”
“[I]n Rebellious Lawyering, Gerald Lopez argues for antisubordination theorizing that focuses on practical community-centered lawyering. He offers a foundation for progressive lawyering grounded in the particulars of peoples’ lives, supportive of community members’ problem-solving skills, and sensitive to the dynamics of neighborhood, local, state, and national politics.”
Eric K. Yamamoto, CRITICAL RACE PRAXIS: RACE THEORY AND POLITICAL LAWYERING PRACTICE IN POST-CIVIL RIGHTS AMERICA, 95 Mich. L. Rev. 821 (1997).
Eric K. Yamamoto is Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at University of Hawai’i School of Law.
Amy M. Reichbach and the role of Rebellious Lawyering in education reform lawsuits
“According to Professor Gerald López, lawyers should embrace a ‘rebellious lawyering’ model, one which demands that lawyers and those with whom they work ‘nurture sensibilities and skills compatible with a collective fight for social change.’ Rebellious lawyers practice collaborative advocacy, connecting with the community they serve and working with their client community, not just on its behalf. They must adopt a problem-solving orientation appropriate for working with others. This model involves brainstorming, designing, and executing strategies that respond immediately to particular problems, while at the same time fighting social and political subordination. This multi-layered approach is consistent with Professor Stephen Ellman’s observation that lawyers working on behalf of those who would otherwise lack adequate representation to achieve social reform must find strategies that ‘target broad situations rather than individual circumstance[s].’ These strategies are necessary because problems are often related to social conditions and because the needs faced by the poor will always exceed their lawyers’ capacity to meet them.“
From Amy M. Reichbach, LAWYER, CLIENT, COMMUNITY: TO WHOM DOES THE EDUCATION REFORM LAWSUIT BELONG, 27 B.C. Third World L.J. 131 (2007).
Amy M. Reichbach is a Hearing Officer at the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals.
Sameer Ashar asks whether legal services, public interest, and clinical lawyers have truly adopted Gerald López’s “rebellious lawyering” critique
“On an even larger scale, legal services, public interest, and clinical lawyers have adopted the ‘rebellious lawyering’ moniker, but few have assimilated Gerald López’s critique and reformulation of public interest practice from the book that gave a name to the movement.”
Cited from Sameer M. Ashar, LAW CLINICS AND COLLECTIVE MOBILIZATION, 14 Clinical L. Rev. 355 (2008).
Sameer M. Ashar is Clinical Professor at the School of Law at the University of California, Irvine and co-director of the UC Irvine Immigrant Rights Clinic.
Camille Gear Rich explores Rebellious Lawyering as a pathway to client autonomy
“Gerald López, creator of the rebellious-lawyering model of ethics, argues that discretionary power gives a lawyer her sense of identity. He unabashedly rejects the idea that lawyers should ‘disavow their legitimate claim on giving life to their convictions through their work, or deny the inevitability of expressing their values through choices and judgments they make in choosing and working with clients.’ He notes that progressives who want lawyers to give up discretion are seen by their worst critics as wanting to ‘level and neuter lawyers, leaving them without convictions and commitments.’ Instead of trying to dismantle the construct, López argues that the lawyer can exercise discretion to determine a client’s ends and goals by having a sense of what the community’s interests are.”
“At present, the rebellious-lawyering model is the most popular oppositional ethics approach. López created the model in part because he recognized that progressive lawyers were struggling against the regnant or traditional model of lawyering.”
Camille Gear Rich is Professor of Law and Sociology at University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
William P. Quigley on “Rebellious Lawyering” as a “curriculum for legal education and training of students to work with, and for, the poor and powerless.”
“[Gerald] Lopez indicates one of the reasons why lawyering for empowerment or ‘rebellious lawyering’ is not prevalent is that even ‘[t]hough millions in this country live in social and political subordination and though lawyers have worked to help challenge these conditions, law schools only rarely have understood their job to include designing a training regimen responsive to this situation and this task.’ Lopez takes up this task and proposes a curriculum for legal education and training of students to work with, and for, the poor and powerless.”
Excerpted from William P. Quigley, REFLECTIONS OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: LAWYERING FOR EMPOWERMENT OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, 21 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 455 (1994).
William P. Quigley is Professor of Law and Director of the Loyola Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
Natsu Taylor Saito: “Rebellious lawyering can open up space for effective community mobilizing.”
“The odds are weighted against those who advocate for fundamental social change. As a result, if we are to engage in rebellious lawyering rather than serve as functionaries of the status quo, we need to assess the significance of a legal victory not simply in terms of whether our clients are the ‘prevailing’ party, but in terms of the justice that has (or has not) been achieved. This requires expanding our vision of both rights and remedies.”
“Innovative, humanity-focused lawyering helps us stretch common understandings of what falls within the realm of legal remedies. The coram nobis cases took a remedy at the ‘edge’ of the box and infused it with new life and meaning. Similarly, the human rights cases that have been brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act illustrate the importance of utilizing remedies that are theoretically available within our legal system, but rarely utilized. In turn, this kind of rebellious lawyering can open up space for effective community mobilizing.”
Excerpted from Natsu Taylor Saito, REBELLIOUS LAWYERING IN THE COURTS OF THE CONQUEROR: THE LEGACY OF THE HIRABAYASHI CORAM NOBIS CASE, 11 Seattle J. for Soc. Just. 89 (2012).
Natsu Taylor Saito is a Law Professor at Georgia State University College of Law.
John O. Calmore and “Rebellious Lawyering”: “[W]e need to spend more time working with, if not within, real communities, especially those that are the concrete sites of material deprivation.”
“The question looms: ‘[I]f these diseases can be [prevented], why do black men continue to live an average of seven years less than white men?’ What role… does ‘common sense racism’ or ‘everyday racism’ play in this tangle of medical, racial, and economic factors?”
“[W]e need to spend more time working with, if not within, real communities, especially those that are the concrete sites of material deprivation.” “The cited scholarship is indebted to Gerald P. López, Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice (1992).”
Cited from John O. Calmore, DISPLACING THE COMMON SENSE INTRUSION OF WHITENESS FROM WITHIN AND WITHOUT: “THE CHICANO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE IN EAST L.A.” 92 Cal. L. Rev. 1517 (2004).
John O. Calmore (1945-2009) was Professor of Law at University of North Carolina School of Law.
Linda S. Durston and Linda G. Mills: The “ ‘‘small everyday details’ of practice that offer the greatest chance of reorienting the traditional sensibilities and skills of advocacy.’” (Citing “Rebellious Lawyering”)
“For [Social Security Disability] representatives who perceive their advocacy in the more radical terms we describe above, the opening statement is indispensable. The opening statement presents one of the ‘practical moments’ that often go unnoticed. These moments may actually provide a central opportunity for rebellious lawyering, in part because they are ‘unpredictable’ and, thus, among the ‘‘small everyday details’ of practice that offer the greatest chance of reorienting the traditional sensibilities and skills of advocacy.’” (Citing Rebellious Lawyering (1992))
Excerpted from Linda S. Durston and Linda G. Mills, TOWARD A NEW DYNAMIC IN POVERTY CLIENT EMPOWERMENT: THE RHETORIC, POLITICS, AND THERAPEUTICS OF OPENING STATEMENTS IN SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY HEARINGS, 8 Yale J.L. & Feminism 119 (1996).
Linda S. Durston, Ph.D., J.D., is an attorney in private practice in Berkeley, California. Her practice areas are estate, special needs and incapacity planning, probate and trust administration, and aspects of Elder Law.
Linda G. Mills, Ph.D., M.S.W, J.D., is Professor of Social Work, Silver School of Social Work, Lisa Ellen Goldberg Professor, Vice Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life at New York University School of Law.
Clark D. Cunningham: Gerald P. Lopez’s “ ‘Rebellious Lawyering’ is perhaps the most balanced assessment of the moral dangers of public interest lawyering”
“[S]ome of the harshest critiques of the lawyer’s role now appearing in law reviews are written by former public interest lawyers who criticize their own work as ‘inevitably’ subordinating clients despite their best efforts to empower them.”
“Perhaps the most balanced assessment of the moral dangers of public interest lawyering is GERALD P. LOPEZ, REBELLIOUS LAWYERING: ONE CHICANO’S VISION OF PROGRESSIVE LAW PRACTICE (1992).”
Cited from Clark D. Cunningham, SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T MAKE A DENT, BUT THEY KNOW YOU’VE BEEN THERE: THE LAWYER AS GOD’S WITNESS, 106 Harv. L. Rev. 1962 (1993).
Clark D. Cunningham is the W. Lee Burge Professor of Law and Ethics National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professionalism at Georgia State University College of Law.
Eduardo Capulong: and Rebellious Lawyering
“A contending school of thought sees little problem with lawyers functioning as both technicians and organizers. In his influential book, for example, Gerald López calls for ‘rebellious lawyers’ to be ‘co-eminent’ practitioners with their clients. Instead of a hierarchical attorney-client relationship in which the lawyer always formally represents the client, López envisions a problem-solving, collaborative approach in which the client’s expertise is accorded equal weight.”
“López’s 1992 book, Rebellious Lawyering, was perhaps the most influential work to offer a systematic approach in this regard. Criticizing what he termed ‘regnant’ lawyering, he argued for a vision of ‘teaching self-help and lay lawyering’ and of ‘co-eminent’ practitioners of lawyers and clients. The ‘rebellious lawyer,’ López argued,
‘must know how to work with (not just on behalf of) women, low-income people, people of color, gays and lesbians, the disabled, and the elderly. They must know how to collaborate with other professional and lay allies rather than ignoring the help that these other problem-solvers may provide in a given situation. They must understand how to educate those with whom they work, particularly about law and professional lawyering, and, at the same time, they must open themselves up to being educated by all those with whom they come in contact, particularly about the traditions and experiences of life on the bottom and at the margins.’”
“López argued that rebellious lawyers must ground themselves in the communities and lives of the subordinated, continually evaluate legal and nonlegal approaches, know how to strategize, build coalitions—and appreciate how all that they do with others requires attention not only to international, national, and regional matters but also to their interplay with seemingly more mundane local affairs. At bottom, the rebellious idea of lawyering demands that lawyers (and those with whom they work) nurture sensibilities and skills compatible with a collective fight for social change.”
“As Angelo Ancheta summarized in his review essay of López’s book: ‘Lopez’s rebellious lawyers . . . are deeply rooted in the communities in which they live and work. They collaborate with other service agencies and with the clients themselves; they try to educate members of the community about their rights; they explore the possibilities of change and continually reexamine their own work in order to help their clients best. Rebellious lawyering thus redefines the lawyer-client relationship as a cooperative partnership in which knowledge and power are shared, rejecting a relationship limited to an active professional working on behalf of the passive, relatively powerless layperson.’”
“López anchored his theory on a narrative-based understanding of persuasive problem-solving. The use of narrative and story-telling became a dominant feature of postmodern scholarship in the 1990s. Eschewing structuralism and ‘meta-theory,’ some proponents–though not López–even argued that the very act of telling marginalized and silenced stories would destabilize existing institutional arrangements. Persuasion was key. As López himself explained: ‘We see and understand the world through “stock stories.” These stories help us interpret the everyday world with limited information and help us make choices about asserting our own needs and responding to other people. These stock stories embody our deepest human, social and political values. At the same time, they help us carry out the routine activities of life without constantly having to analyze or question what we are doing … . To solve a problem through persuasion of another, we therefore must understand and manipulate the stock stories the other person uses in order to tell a plausible and compelling story – one that moves that person to grant the remedy we want.’”
“Lopez’s approach was very influential. Indeed, his approach crystallized the progressive critique of liberal public interest law practice as undermining, rather than furthering, client activism. Many activist lawyers now self-consciously aspire to practice ‘rebelliously.’”
“For López, grand narratives were suspect. His larger project emanated simply from the lawyer-client collaboration and ‘as an instrument of practical problem-solving and daily living.’”