International Journal of Arts, Humanities &Social Sciences

ISSN 2994-6417 (Print) , ISSN 2994-6425 (Online)
Lawyers Revolting, Revolting Lawyers: The Bench and Bar in The Arab Spring


While the causes and consequences of the so-called “Arab Spring” have been extensively considered, one lacuna in the literature is the role of the bench and bar in these revolts. Using contemporaneous secondary sources, we consider how legal professionalization in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia influenced the role of legal practitioners during the revolutions. Did the lawyers and judges revolt or did they side with the authoritarians? Our findings indicate that three prominent factors influenced the actions of legal professionals during the revolution: First, relaxed standards regarding the practice of law makes lawyers less loyal to a regime. Second, attacks on the autonomy of the bar and on the whole legal profession using regulations increases support for anti-government protestors. Third, the judiciary’s support for anti-government protestors is partly influenced by the level of professionalism and competency of the judicial branch.