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“Every person in this book has spent their lives acting like the house is on fire and responding to the world’s most pressing problems with the urgency they deserve. But more than that, they are offering a roadmap for doing what is often considered to be impossible, but necessary. They are the true leaders that the world needs to listen to and follow.”
- Greta Thunberg

In these vibrant narratives, 25 of the world’s most accomplished movement lawyers and activists become storytellers, reflecting on their experiences at the frontlines of some of the most significant struggles of our time. In an era where human rights are under threat, their words offer both an inspiration and a compass for the way movements can use the law – and must sometimes break it – to bring about social justice.

The contributors here take you into their worlds: Jennifer Robinson frantically orchestrating a protest outside London’s Ecuadorean embassy to prevent the authorities from arresting her client Julian Assange; Justin Hansford at the barricades during the protests over the murder of Black teenager Mike Brown in Lawrence, Missouri; Ghida Frangieh in Lebanon’s detention centres trying to access arrested protestors during the 2019 revolution; Pavel Chikov defending Pussy Riot and other abused prisoners in Russia; Ayisha Siddiqa, a shy Pakistani immigrant, discovering community in her new home while leading the 2019 youth climate strike in Manhattan; Greenpeace activist Kumi Naidoo on a rubber dinghy in stormy Arctic seas contemplating his mortality as he races to occupy an oil rig.

The stories in The Revolution Will Not Be Litigated capture the complex, and often-awkward dance between legal reform and social change. They are more than compelling portraits of fascinating lives and work, they are revelatory: of generational transitions; of epochal change and apocalyptic anxiety; of the ethical dilemmas that define our age; and of how one can make a positive impact when the odds are stacked against you in a harsh world of climate crisis and ruthless globalization.

What Readers Are Saying

“The law is no magic bullet when it comes to bringing about change, but if you understand its power as a tool, you can harness it to bring about the change yourself – especially if you do it with others as a movement. In this respect I have found The Revolution Will Not Be Litigated to be transformational.”
—Jane Fonda

“These are the lawyers who give my profession a good name! They are also the movement leaders we all need to be listening to. They write with passion, joy and wisdom. The result is a collection of beautiful personal essays by powerful people who have figured out what it takes to shift power and win — often in ‘impossible’ situations and places.”
—Van Jones

“If you say you want a revolution, this stirring volume teaches what every human rights lawyer learns the hard way: lasting victories are only won through an ‘inside-outside’ game, where lawyers fight in court for what activists fight in the streets. The chapters take you on a dizzying tour d’horizon spanning Black Lives Matter, environmental justice, reproductive rights, global financial accountability, and AIDS action , unfolding on the streets of New York, labor camps in Burma, the Peruvian Amazon, India, Kenya, Xi’s China and Putin’s Russia. The stories are inspiring and the lessons bracing.”
—Harold Hongju Koh, former Dean, Yale Law School

About the Editors

Mark Gevisser is one of South Africa's foremost authors and journalists. HIs books include: The Pink Line: Journeys Across The World's Queer Frontiers; Lost and Found in Johannesburg; and the award-winning A Legacy Of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of South Africa's Dream. His Journalism and criticism has been published widely in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Granta, and many other publications.

Katie Redford is a lawyer with expertise in human rights, climate change, and corporate accountability. She is executive director of Equation Campaign, which confronts the climate crisis by "supporting movements on the ground to keep fossil fuels in the ground." She was a co-founder and director of EarthRights International, where she oversaw litigation, training, and campaigns programs to hold corporations and other perpetrators legally accountable for human rights and environmental abuses worldwide.

The Essays


Here are personal essays, from some of the world’s most effective activists and lawyers, about how “The Power of Law” and“The Power of People” work best together, as symbiotic and interdependent components of any change strategy.
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Theory of change comes through a reflection of practice and lived experience.
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