Is There a Human Right to a Lawyer?

Legal Ethics 17 (3):371-381 (2014)

David Luban
Georgetown University
Is there an international human right to a lawyer? This paper answers yes, exploring the philosophical basis for that answer, and drawing out implications for the legal profession. Borrowing from, and modifying, Henry Shue's pioneering work, the paper analyses a human right as a claim-right by individuals to social guarantees against standard threats. Access to legal representation is one of those social guarantees, and is essential in rule-of-law societies. That is because of the multitudinous advantages that access to legal institutions provides, systematic deprivation of which violates human dignity. Lawyers are essential to providing that access. The paper argues that lawyers have a special obligation to provide that access; the argument is based on a trusteeship model of law, in which the political community viewed collectively creates a good for the benefit of its individual members, and lawyers are the fiduciary agents of the political community
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DOI 10.5235/1460728X.17.3.371
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