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Political Transition and the Rise of Cause Lawyering: The Case of Hong Kong

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This article examines how cause lawyering can flourish under authoritarianism. Using the case of Hong Kong, it argues that the process of the sovereignty transition between the 1980s and 1997 contributed to the emergence of cause lawyering by establishing a favorable legal opportunity structure, by creating a political structure that provides incentive for lawyers-cum-politicians to engage in cause lawyering, and by prompting a few dedicated foreign human rights lawyers to move their practices to Hong Kong. Apart from the factors related to the sovereignty transition, other factors also facilitated the rise of cause lawyering in Hong Kong, including a rights-receptive judiciary, an autonomous legal profession, and a government-funded legal aid system.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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