In this presentation Professor Levin looks at the circumstances under which legal professions throughout the world, through mandatory and voluntary lawyer associations, attempt to influence the law by either advocating for legal change or opposing it. They do so, for example, in order to benefit the profession as an occupation; to benefit their clients; to bolster (or improve) the legitimacy of the courts; and to advance human rights and other issues affecting civil society. The presentation also explores the circumstances under which it is possible for legal professions to take such action.
Broadly speaking, the ability of lawyers’ associations to act to influence the law depends upon their strength vis a vis the state, the laws governing lawyer organizations, the homogeneity of the organizations, their internal organization, and their support from the international legal community. The willingness of lawyers’ organizations to act depends, in addition, on lawyers’ conceptions of their own interests, their clients’ interests, and their role in civil society. Professor Levin’s work (with her collaborator Professor Lynn Mather) is the first effort to map this terrain.