“Of course he just stood there; he's the law”: Two depictions of cause lawyers in post-authoritarian chile

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


“Of course he just stood there, he's the law.” Paulina Lorca's comment about Gerardo Escobar, her husband and a human rights lawyer in Roman Polanski's 1994 film Death and the Maiden, succinctly captures one way that cause lawyers have often been viewed within Chilean popular culture: they just stand there. This essay explores whether this cynical critique of cause lawyers has endured the decade of political upheaval, social transformation, and legal reform that followed Death and the Maiden, using the recently produced Chilean television drama Justicia Para Todos(“Justice for All”) as a vehicle for comparison. In so doing, it focuses on two dilemmas consistently encountered by the cause lawyers in these fictionalized accounts: law vs. social justice and professionalism vs. public service. This essay begins with a brief review of the legal reforms (primarily in the criminal law field) that followed the end of the Pinochet regime in Chile. It then describes the history of legal culture in Chile. The bulk of the essay analyzes Death and the Maidenand Justicia Para Todos, comparing the ways in which they depict the cause lawyers who figure prominently in the plots of each. The essay concludes with a series of observations about cultural depictions of cause lawyers in post-authoritarian Chile that relate to the overall themes of this book. Throughout, the essay refers to enduring themes of the Cause Lawyering Project that these depictions bring to mind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cultural Lives of Cause Lawyers
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780511619786
ISBN (Print)9780521884488
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2008 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.


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