Law and Social Justice
Project Team Leader: Irina Ceric, Department of Criminology, KPU, Irina.Ceric@kpu.ca
Lawyering from Below
The purpose of this research project is to explore and document the work of activist legal collectives in Canada and the US since 1999. Over the last two decades, law collectives have been central in the successful legal defense of thousands of activists and protesters. In addition to facilitating legal defence provision, fielding legal observers, and organizing court and jail support, this new generation of law collectives also works to empower people to provide their own legal support. They give train the trainer workshops so people can give “Know Your Rights” and civil disobedience workshops in their communities, teach people how to organize their own legal assistance, and work to demystify the law. Yet apart from a handful of scholarly articles and one non-academic book, both movement-based writers and social movement and legal scholars have failed to closely examine the work of providing activist legal support, particularly the contributions of non-lawyer legal collectives. This research aims to address this research gap by cataloging the work of movement-based legal collectives in the US and Canada and will result in the first scholarly studies of the second wave of law collectives.
Given the rich history of social movements in the Lower Mainland and the role of law in current struggles for social justice, research that explores, documents and theorizes the role of non-lawyers in legal work directly engages the core mandate of the Social Justice Centre. Irina Ceric has already begun conducting research interviews with current and former legal collective members and will continue to do so throughout the spring and summer. One of the goals of the project is to disseminate results beyond the scholarly literature, and to build capacity in social movements through the provision of workshops and other resources in local communities.