Jotham Zwane is a respected community leader in Amsterdam, a small country town in South Africa. I could talk for a long time about the truly remarkable Jotham Zwane and his experiences. But in the present context, what is particularly striking about this part of his story is what it tells us about lawyers and their responsibilities. In the first place, the story reminds us of the classic role of the lawyer: to stand between the individual and the state. The second lesson which emerges from the story is a question about the role of lawyers in an unjust system. A third lesson from the Zwane story is a reminder of another reason why lawyers have a special duty to promote justice; and that is the vast potential they have to cause harm. Assuming that we accept that lawyers do have a duty to challenge injustice, and are going to participate in the legal system, how should or could they do so? Six different models suggest themselves: the “cab-rank” model, the public interest model, lawyer as organizer, “breaking the rules" model, moral confrontation model, and direct confrontation model. In sum, the struggle for freedom and justice is increasingly an international struggle, in which we have to learn from one another. It is my conviction, based on the South African experience, that lawyers have a critical role to play in that struggle.


The Justice Mission of American Law Schools