Cover of Something to Believe In by Stuart A. Scheingold and Austin Sarat
Something to Believe In
Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyering
Stuart A. Scheingold and Austin Sarat

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2004
192 pages.
$38.00

Cloth ISBN: 9780804749473

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Lawyers in the United States are frequently described as "hired guns," willing to fight for any client and advance any interest. Claiming that their own beliefs are irrelevant to their work, they view lawyering as a technical activity, not a moral or political one.

But there are others, those the authors call cause lawyers, who refuse to put aside their own convictions while they do their legal work. This "deviant" strain of lawyering is as significant as it is controversial, both in the legal profession and in the world of politics. It challenges mainstream ideas of what lawyers should do and of how they should behave.

Human rights lawyers, feminist lawyers, right-to-life lawyers, civil rights and civil liberties lawyers, anti-death penalty lawyers, environmental lawyers, property rights lawyers, anti-poverty lawyers—cause lawyers go by many names, serving many causes. Something to Believe In explores the work that cause lawyers do, the role of moral and political commitment in their practice, their relationships to the organized legal profession, and the contributions they make to democratic politics.

About the author

Stuart A. Scheingold is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Washington. Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College.

"This superb new book . . . is a rich synthesis of several decades of research on cause lawyers and cause lawyering. . . . [It] is a must-read for all scholars and students interested in cause lawyers and the intersection between law and politics in the U.S."

The Law and Politics Book Review

"Scheingold and Sarat have produced an excellent synthesis of the existing research on cause lawyers and lawyering. They have done us all a great service in writing this new book."

—Law and Politics Book Review

"Something To Believe In is a thoughtful and intellectual study of an approach to practicing law that elevates principle over pragmatic self-interest."

TRIAL

"Two political scientists provide a brief and fascinating overview of 'cause lawyering,' or the use of legal skills to pursue ideological goals that transcend traditional client service."

California Lawyer