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Prof Promotes Latin American Legal Rights With CDs, Fashion Shows

Posted May 8, 2008 11:08 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An assistant dean at California Western law school in San Diego is trying to improve Latin American legal systems with innovative and offbeat projects.

James Cooper says he worked for 15 months at Baker & McKenzie before he tired of "making the world safe for McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Levis," he told the Wall Street Journal. Now he works with a group he co-founded, Proyecto Acceso, to teach Latin Americans about their legal rights.

His efforts run the gamut from an educational program for shoeshine boys in Bolivia to a fashion show at a Bolivian women’s prison to a CD of legal-related songs aimed at the Chilean public. His group also helps train legal professionals in Latin American countries that have adopted the U.S. open and adversarial style of justice, the story says.

Professional musicians made the CD of justice songs, some of which played on Chilean radio. A local group that opened for singer Shakira played one of the songs at Chile’s National Stadium.

Cooper hopes the shoeshine boys will learn enough about their legal rights to be able to talk to customers about what they’ve learned. Those who stick with the program will get shirts and baseball caps sporting human-rights slogans. Cooper views the boys as “foot soldiers for a revolution in Latin American justice,” the article says.

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