Lawyers and Authoritarianism

Insight April 16, 2024

On March 28, 2024, the HLS Center on the Legal Profession hosted the conference, “Do Legal Professions Resist Authoritarianism? Case Studies on the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and more.” The event was co-sponsored by the HLS chapter of the American Constitution Society. The event was produced in coordination with the working group, Lawyers Against Democratic Decline.

See the schedule below and watch the full video below or on our YouTube channel.

Welcome and Introduction

  • David B. Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law and Faculty Director, HLS Center on the Legal Profession
  • David M. Trubek, Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Dean of International Studies Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 

The United States

  • Lawyering for Autocracy – Scott Cummings, Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics, UCLA Law School
  • Lawyering for Resistance – Rick Abel, Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, UCLA Law School


  • Lawyering for Resistance – Oscar Vilhena Vieira, Dean, São Paulo Law School – Fundação Getulio Vargas
  • Lawyers and Non-Institutional Resistance – Sofia Bordin-Rolim, PhD Student, São Paulo Law School – Fundação Getulio Vargas


  • Defenders, but Not Resisters – Kathryn Hendley, Theodore W. Brazeau & Roman Z. Livshits Professor of Law & Political Science, University of Wisconsin

Comparisons – Lawyers in the US, China, and Brazil

  • Leigha Crout, Rule of Law Fellow, Neukom Center for the Rule of Law; Lecturer, Stanford Law School