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The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 7, Issue 2, February 2005

A publication of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

Table of Contents

Letter from the Editor

Latin America

The Promise and Peril of Democracy (Full Text of Speech)
Jimmy Carter

The Promise and Peril of Democracy (Summary)
Joseph Proietti

Threat Resurges for Venezuelan NGOs [Spanish Translation]
Antonio L. Itriago and Miguel Ángel Itriago

Transparency Versus Government Supervision in Peru [Spanish Translation]
Beatriz Parodi Luna

Federal Law for the Promotion of Civil Society Organizations in Mexico
Consuelo Castro

Active Without Recognition: Obstacles to Development of the Colombian Third Sector
Adriana Ruiz-Restrepo

The Role of the Media in the Consolidation of Democracy in Latin America
The Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars


Philanthropy and Law in South Asia: Key Themes and Key Choices
Mark Sidel and Iftekhar Zaman

The Role of a National Donor Association: A U.S. Perspective
Robert Buchanan

California’s Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004
Thomas Silk and Rosemary Fei

Progress on Civil Society Legislation in Turkey
Filiz Bikmen

Taxation of Grants in Russia
Yulia Checkmaryova


Civil Society
By Michael Edwards
Reviewed by Stephan Klingelhofer

The Law of Charities
By Peter Luxton
Reviewed by Richard Fries

Does Civil Society Matter?: Governance in Contemporary India
Edited by Rajesh Tandon & Ranjita Mohanty
Reviewed by Bindu Sharma

Governing Nonprofit Organizations: Federal and State Law and Regulation
By Marion R. Fremont-Smith
Reviewed by Michael Bisesi

Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory
Edited by Maria Todorova
Reviewed by Gerald M. Easter

Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism and Cause Lawyering
By Stuart A. Scheingold and Austin Sarat
Reviewed by Patricia Lyons

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Download this issue (PDF) | Editorial Board

Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism and Cause Lawyering

By Stuart A. Scheingold and Austin Sarat
Reviewed by Patricia Lyons*

As described by authors Stuart A. Scheingold and Austin Sarat, “cause lawyers” are those individuals who have chosen to pursue legal work aimed at fulfilling their individual visions of “the right, the good, or the just.” The authors skillfully provide a broad overview of the many issues central to the development of cause lawyering and its operation in the world today. Topics are diverse, including cause lawyering and legal education, career aspects, and the challenges and role of cause lawyering in democratic advocacy. However, while the discussion is expansive and well-written, some areas leave the reader wondering if key aspects were overlooked. 

The discussion of cause lawyering in legal education is a prime example of the book’s shortfalls. From the beginning of their law school careers to the end, the proportion of law students interested in cause lawyering declines significantly. Much of the discussion here focuses on the intellectual shift that students experience as a result of the traditional instructional approaches in law school, and the role this shift plays in undermining interest in and perhaps respect for cause lawyering. This is an interesting point, and one that is often overlooked; however, the authors pay little attention to the economic concerns facing law students, such as skyrocketing tuition costs, and the role these concerns play in driving students away from careers in cause lawyering. In addition, it would be interesting to learn the perspectives of students graduating from institutions other than the top-tier law schools, so as to explore how the recruitment practice of large law firms varies in their experience as well as whether the pursuit of cause lawyering changes in these environments. 

Another area that seems slightly off point is the chapter providing a brief history of cause lawyering. Again, the section is well-expressed and the efforts of the authors are evident; however, the history seems too general. A more developed and detailed history of specific cause lawyering endeavors, which now appear only briefly, would be preferable. Instead, the focus on demographic shifts of those involved in the law, though relevant, is applicable to any type of lawyering. More examples of cause lawyering efforts over time would have enhanced this chapter greatly. 

It is important to note that the book strengthens considerably in the discussions of careers and the role of cause lawyers in democratic advocacy. In particular, the review of career avenues open to those seeking to pursue cause lawyering is both thorough and enlightening. Whether it is pro bono work, a traditional public interest agency, or a small firm focused on a specific issue, the authors do an excellent job of presenting both the advantages and the drawbacks of each scenario.  

Though some key areas seem underdeveloped, the book in general is an appealing read that provides a brief yet wide-ranging introduction to the role and development of cause lawyering in legal society.


* Patricia Lyons is a Consultant for the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law and a law student at The George Washington University Law School.


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