Document Type


Publication Date



This article describes the evolution of legal aid and public interest law in China and examines its implications for the legal profession and the law in the context of four intertwined developments: first, China's efforts to establish a nationwide system of government-run legal aid centers; second, China's attempt to expand the availability and improve the quality of legal representation for indigent criminal defendants; third, China's bid to force the legal profession to serve poor clients via mandatory pro bono requirements for lawyers; fourth, the development of non-governmental legal aid centers and the expanding incentives for profit-oriented lawyers to take on pro bono cases or pursue public interest litigation. Although it is too early to declare that the evolution of legal aid will reshape the function of law or the status of individual rights in China, this article argues that the evolution illustrates the choices facing China as it continues to reform its legal system and legal profession. China's development of legal aid also demonstrates the degree to which legal development in China is progressing without any single dominant rationale or policy goal.


Comparative and Foreign Law | Law | Legal Profession