With a shared professional background but differing political ideologies, lawyers arguably function as both private and public interest groups. Hong Kong’s divided legal profession sees barristers and solicitors as two distinct groups vying for status and privileges on the one hand, and collectively as “the public’s spokespersons” on the other. The former British colony’s regression to Chinese rule in 1997 and its stalled democratization – despite being promised under the Basic Law – heightened lawyers’ roles as defenders of the rule of law while also exposed the conflicting visions thereof. On this basis, this chapter reviews the history of Hong Kong lawyers’ political activism from colonial to recent times. It observes that, while Beijing’s perceived encroachment on “one country, two systems” helped galvanize the liberal faction of the legal complex – which includes lawyers and increasingly the legal academy – to fight for democracy, society also witnessed the rise of pro-establishment lawyers espousing a “pragmatism-inspired” vision of the rule of law.
|Title of host publication||Interest Groups and the New Democracy Movement in Hong Kong|
|Editors||Sonny Shiu-Hing Lo|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||28|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|