Jacqueline Kinghan, “Lawyers, Networks and Progressive Social Change: Lawyers Changing Lives” (Bloomsbury, 2021)

Written by a lawyer who works at the intersection between legal education and practice in access to justice and human rights, this book locates, describes and defines a collective identity for social justice lawyering in the UK.

Underpinned by theories of cause lawyering and legal mobilisation, the book 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.

The book takes a reflexive ethnographic approach to capture the stories of 35 lawyers working to positively transform law and policy in the UK over the last 50 years. It also draws on a wealth of primary sources including case reports, historic campaign materials and media analysis alongside wider ethnographic interviews with academics, students and lawyers and participant observation at social justice conferences, workshops and events.

The book explains the way in which lawyers’ networks facilitate their collective positioning and influence their strategic decision making, which in turn shapes their interactions with social activists, with other lawyers and with the state itself.

Alex Batesmith is a Lecturer in Legal Profession at the School of Law, University of Leeds, UK. His research focuses on lawyers, their professional self-identity and their motivations, and how these shape the institutions and the discipline in which they work. Twitter: @batesmith. His latest publication, a chapter in the collection Leading Works on the Legal Profession (edited by Dan Newman, published by Routledge in July 2023) is entitled “Lawyers Who Want to Make the World a Better Place – Scheingold and Sarat’s Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyering.”

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