Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal


In a time when people in the United States have been taking to the streets en masse to protest unjust socio‐legal conditions like police brutality and the draconian enforcement of immigration laws, the time is ripe to reconceptualize what it means to break the law on principle. Twenty five years ago, Harvard Law Dean Martha L. Minow conceptualized “the risks of representation” for lawyers whose clients “entertain breaking the law as one of their strategies for achieving social change.” Responding substantively to Minow’s ideas, Houston Law Professor Michael A. Olivas presented three case studies to illuminate the risks of nonrepresentation, terminated representation, and truncated representation. Taking Minow’s and Olivas’s insights seriously, this Article applies them to current socio‐legal situations in the United States, like Central American children and women seeking asylum, immigrant workers at industrial food processing plants, and social activists indicted by racially compromised grand jury systems. Delving deeply into the ethical implications of representing clients “when the state regime is the law breaker,” this Article proffers the concept of la gran lucha (the great struggle) to advance “the understanding that our pasts are not merely multicolored: rather, our diverse heritages wind through centuries of socio‐legal struggles, which transcend the current nation state.” The Article concludes by presenting a partial history of Chicana/o and other Mexican American lawyers in California and Texas in order to contextualize the efforts of lawyers, and clients, who seek to create social change today within actual lineages of and fictive genealogies of past lawyers who confronted the risks of representation.

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