Legal Professionals in Latin American in the Twenty - First Century
It is difficult to imagine a group with a greater influence than legal professionals on the organization and development of the modern Latin American state. By legal professionals I am not only referring to those licensed to practice law and represent clients, but also the judges, magistrates, law enforcement officials, and other individuals formally trained whose professional occupation is to liaise between the formal legal system and society at large. By this measure, law students should also be considered legal professionals, albeit their role and contribution is arguably different and more limited than the one performed by judges, lawyers, and others. Legal professionals have been vital to many activities associated with the functioning of the formal legal system, including lawmaking, interpreting laws, adjudicating disputes, offering legal advice, and obviously participating in the enforcement of judicial and administrative decisions. Legal professionals have also been at the heart of the political process and the functioning of the state, since colonial times (Pérez-Perdomo 2006). Lawyers are commonly found in many government agencies, and public offices, across the spectrum of the state’s bureaucracy throughout the region (Falçao 1984, 1988; Fix-Fierro and López Ayllón 2003). The contribution of Latin American legal professionals to society goes beyond the public sphere, as they have also been key players in the private sector (Gómez and Pérez-Perdomo 2017a). From the traditional roles of legal advisors, and in-house counsel, generally reserved to lawyers; legal professionals also act as corporate officers, political brokers, and lobbyists. Moreover, certain fields like the protection of the environment or human rights have also been primarily shaped by the work of legal professionals through their involvement in policymaking, advocacy, and activism (Gómez 2010; Rodríguez-Garavito 2010; Dezalay and Garth 2002).
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Manuel A. Gomez, Legal Professionals in Latin American in the Twenty - First Century, in ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF LAW AND SOCIETY IN LATIN AMERICA 278, 292 (Sieder, R., Ansolabehere, K., & Alfonso, S. T. A. eds., Routledge, New York 2019).