LAW & CRIME

Lawless: A Lawyer’s Unrelenting Fight for Justice in a War Zone

Atlantic. Oct. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781760633189. pap. $16.95. LAW
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A former public defender, Motley joined the U.S. State Department’s Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP) in 2008 to help Afghanistan set up its own criminal justice system. While her husband and children moved to North Carolina as her husband attended law school, Motley relocated to Afghanistan. Realizing that JSSP wasn’t engaging with local attorneys, judges, and prison officials, she began cultivating these relationships and trying to understand the traditions and laws of Afghanistan. At the end of her JSSP contract, she stayed in Afghanistan and opened her own practice, helping countless expatriates, immigrants, children, women, and many others forgotten or ignored by the Afghan legal system receive what she calls “justness.” She learned how to work with judges, studied the Koran to familiarize herself with religious laws and customs, and developed relationships with embassy officials. While the author doesn’t call herself a human rights attorney, she certainly has assisted innumerable Afghan women to claim their agency in a deeply misogynistic society.
VERDICT Those interested in human rights, women’s rights, and the legal system will devour this uplifting and immersive book, along with the author’s documentary Motley’s Law and her TED talk.

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