Political activism and the practice of law in Venezuela Book Chapter

Gomez, M. (2010). Political activism and the practice of law in Venezuela . 182-206. 10.1017/CBO9780511730269.008

cited authors

  • Gomez, M



  • In spite of the traditional involvement of Venezuelan lawyers in the country's social, political and economic life (Perez-Perdomo 1981, 1990, 2006) and their historic role as nation builders, social entrepreneurs and power brokers (Gomez 2008, 2009), the practice of law in Venezuela was largely traditional until the early 1990s. Venezuelan lawyers generally used their legal expertise, tools and resources without commitments to an ideological or social cause (Sarat and Scheingold 2001), and did not rely on litigation as a form of “moral activism” (Sarat and Scheingold 1998). Cause lawyering emerged during the postdictatorship transition in other Latin American countries (Meili 2001: 307); in Venezuela, cause lawyering began to develop during a period of political and social instability and gained even more salience during a decade of radical change in Venezuela's social, political, and economic institutions. Specific events in Venezuela during the last twenty years define three different stages in the emergence and transformation of cause lawyering and human rights activism and in the growing involvement of lawyers in the country's political debate. Each of these three stages corresponds to important changes in the conception lawyers have about their role. Each stage also corresponds to changes in the image that other actors have about members of the legal profession and their role in society. The first stage took place between 1958 and 1989, and coincided with the strengthening of democratic institutions after a period of military dictatorships and political instability.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 182

end page

  • 206