Law and society activities in Colombia emerged in the 1970s and have experienced a boom since the 1990s. They involve numerous university research centers, think tanks, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and cover topics such as administration of justice, the legal profession, law and political violence, human rights, and legal pluralism.

Since the 1980s, three developments have converged to spur the growth of empirically grounded, interdisciplinary studies of law. Before then, the grip that legal formalism and abstract theorizing had traditionally held over legal education and practice discouraged them. First, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, alternative legal services organizations, notably the Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales Alternativos (ILSA), were established that combined advocacy and sociolegal research.

Second, as elsewhere in Latin America, the first wave of ...

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