2017: Lawyering, Professionalism & Struggle in Conflict & Transition

Professor Kieran McEvoy from Queen's University Belfast presented the 2017 Annual Socio-Legal Lecture

Cause-lawyers throughout the world have to interact with politically motivated clients. Sometimes they share the political objectives of their clients, but in other cases they do not. They are regularly faced with questions about whether and how to share information between politically motivated prisoners and those on the outside, whether to recognise the court at all, which lines of argumentation to adopt, and how legality might be ‘performed’ in highly politicised settings. Based on over 170 interviews with lawyers and political activists in a range of conflicted and transitional societies - South Africa, Israel\Palestine, Cambodia, Chile, Tunisia, and Northern Ireland - this presentation explores the challenges faced by causelawyers in these complex and conflicting situations. The lecture will propose four heuristic models to examine the relationship between lawyers, clients and ‘causes’ in such sites and explore the extent to which such exceptional circumstances are relevant in settled political democracies.

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