Legal Imagination and the Sharing Economy

By Professor Bronwen Morgan, UNSW

“Twenty public-spirited lawyers could save the world’. What kind of lawyer comes to mind when we read this pithy phrase? When Paul Hawken surveyed the ‘blessed unrest’ bubbling under business-as-usual in 2007, he turned, like so many others, to notions of human rights as the glue of these alternative worlds. And it is all too likely that for many, a human rights lawyer, a legal aid lawyer or perhaps an environmental lawyer would come to mind—lawyers embedded in spheres and communities we think of as ‘social’, ‘public’ or ‘ecological’ in ways that we implicitly oppose to notions of ‘the economy’. So it may come as a surprise to read the full referent of that opening phrase: as Will Davies, one-time ideas man of the UK think-tank Demos, went on to observe, he was referring “not to civil rights or legal aid lawyers, but lawyers who can manipulate equity, voting rights, debt, share, audit and so on.”

This article is featured in Issue 9, Spring 2015, of the magazine Stir, a print publication that is partly online at www.stirtoaction.com, in a special issue on Law and Social Change edited by Jonny Gordon-Farleigh and Bronwen Morgan. The full text of the article, which should become available online in early 2016, can be found here.

 

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