The Critical Lawyers' Handbook Volume 1
3: Critical Legal Practice
In our view, the practice of law must form an integral part of the critical project and this chapter attempts to bridge the gulf between critical scholars and critical practitioners. We must seek to identify the relationship between critical theory and legal practice and offer not only a critique of orthodox practice but also a discussion of the possibilities and limits of a critical practice.
Views on this subject range from those who see their role as purely defensive - as 'merely' seeking to protect the oppressed against the worst abuses of the system; through those who seek in their practice an extension of rights; those who consider that law offers a range of dramatic 'moments' within which to publicise the oppressive nature of law and legal institutions, to those who would argue for the principle of a counter-hegemonic legal practice- a practice which is power-orientated not rights-orientated - a practice which seeks to build, around legal struggles, a political organisation, against the domination of law, legal definitions and indeed lawyers. The important element in all of these positions is the attempt to abstract from the concrete case and consider theoretically the strategy to be followed.
as with legal education, the organisational structures of law centres,
solicitors' practices and bar chambers have received little or no attention.
As in law schools, we must recognise that organisational changes are crucial
to the creation of a new generation of critical lawyers. The traditional
forms must be discarded and new democratic working relationships developed.
On this issue we have a long way to go.