The self taught Chinese ‘barefoot lawyer’ Chen Guangcheng may not have followed the Chartered Institute of Legal Executive (CILEX) path to non-graduate legal qualification, but for me he’s a legal executive in spirit.
Chen, who begins studying law the traditional way at New York Law School (NYU) this week, didn't experience any form of formal education until he was 13. Blinded by a fever when he was a baby, he would go on to become the first person in his family to attend university, where he studied massage and acupuncture – one of the only professions open to blind people in China.
On the quiet, though, Chen kept slipping off to law lectures – despite the fact that blind students weren’t allowed to graduate in the subject – and subsequently used the legal knowledge he had gleaned to help people back in his village.
With his family reading legal documents for him, Chen’s clients included a dwarf who had been refused a business licence because of his height and a family whose paranoid schizophrenic son had been classed as fully-functioning by the authorities...