Women Lawyers and the Struggle for Change in Conflict and Transition

The latest findings from the Lawyers, Conflict and Transition project have just been published in the Australian Feminist Law Journal.

In ‘Women Lawyers and the Struggle for Change in Conflict and Transition’ Anna Bryson and Kieran McEvoy examine the particular experiences of female ‘cause lawyers’ in conflicted and transitional societies.

Drawn from fieldwork in Cambodia, Chile, Israel, Palestine, Tunisia and South Africa, the paper looks at opportunities, obstacles and the obduracy required from such lawyers to ‘make a difference’ in these challenging contexts.

Informed by the theoretical literature on the sociology of the legal profession, cause-lawyers, gender and transitional justice, and the structure/agency nexus, the article considers in turn the conflict\cause-lawyering intersection and the work of cause-lawyers in transitional contexts.

It concludes by arguing that the case-study of cause-lawyers offers a rebuttal to the charge that transitional justice is just like ‘ordinary justice’. It also contends that, notwithstanding the durability of patriarchal power in transitional contexts, law remains a site of struggle, not acquiescence, and many of these cause-lawyers have and continue to exercise both agency and responsibility in ‘taking on’ that power.