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Abstract

For at least fifty years, lawyers have examined what professional role to play in movements to end oppression. First, lawyers criticized the impact litigator: ducking in and out of movements, the litigator represented a client to advance a cause. These lawyers could deliver a gut punch to an oppressive regime, yet winning a court case could defuse organizing power and lead to push-back. The lawyer, not the client or movement, was in charge. Then, criticism swung against the community lawyer seeking to empower marginalized people. That lawyer served individuals who were confronting systemic discrimination, going person by person to make a change. While the community or individual had more control over reform efforts, the lawyer was often seen as only serving the immediate issue, just holding the oppressive forces at bay.

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