Research Seminar in Sociology of Law with Seda Kalem
The Sociology of Law Department arranges a series of research seminars inviting local and international social scientists to present state-of-the-art research within various areas of law and society.
Ethics of Feminist Lawyering in Turkey
The issue of how a lawyer is expected to behave in professional affairs is significant given that defence is an organic part of the judiciary, and the legal profession has historically held its monopoly. In line with this structure, the profession has also been assigned a public responsibility, mostly framed in reference to serving ideals of social justice. Professional ethics, however, needs to be considered against the political and ideological motivations of activist lawyers, particularly in authoritarian contexts, with increasing judicial misconduct and decreasing public confidence in the rule of law. Feminist lawyers are such activists who mobilize their legal skills and knowledge not only for their individual clients but also for the greater cause of gender equality. As such their professional conduct seems to be guided by a more encompassing set of principles that are not always covered by written or oral ethical guidelines of the legal profession. In this paper, I will explore how feminist lawyers in Turkey make sense of their ethical obligations in cases of violence against women and how these narratives challenge the existing legal and normative framework for professional ethics among lawyers in Turkey.
Seda Kalem is an Assistant Professor at the Human Rights Law Research Center, at Istanbul Bilgi University. In 2010, she defended her PhD thesis "Contested Meanings- Imagined Practices: Law at the Intersection of Mediation and Legal Profession: A Study of the Juridical Field in Turkey" which was awarded “The Albert Salomon Memorial Award in Sociology” by the Graduate Faculty Department of Sociology. Since 2004, she has been working as an expert researcher and coordinator on several research projects at Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Research Center. With a general concentration on law and society research, her main areas of interest include studying law in action especially in the context of courts and in reference to various issues such as access to justice, lay perceptions of law and justice, legal consciousness, legal profession and ADR mechanisms.