The Defense Lawyer in the Scales of Chinese Criminal Justice
Since the inception of legal reform in 1978 China's lawyer's have witnessed enormous professional change. Writing in 1978 about "law without lawyers", Victor Li noted that the US has 400,000 lawyers to serve the needs of 200 million people whereas China had a mere 3,500 lawyers to deal with a population four times the size of the US. After so many intervening years of reform, there is a new generation of lawyers working within a new professional context. Our paper, however, focuses on the position of the defense lawyer in the changing context of criminal justice reform. In 2004 there were approximately 118,000 practising lawyers in 11,691 law firms; however, in the same year, Albert Chen observed that "the greatest disappointment" of China's legal reform is "the failure to make more significant progress in protecting the basic rights of individuals, especially in the area of criminal procedure." With specific reference to procedural justice in court proceedings this paper's analysis will attempt an analytical update of the position of the defense lawyer in light of the 28 November 2007 changes to the lawyer's law and the ongoing effort to revise the Criminal Procedural Law.
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