At a time when professional law firms have widened the gap between the legal system and grassroots social life, “barefoot lawyers,” part-time legal workers in villages and towns, are paving the ways for people to “approach justice.” The emphasis on “welcoming law into the countryside” on the part of barefoot lawyers not only serves to fill gaps in the legal services system in the countryside, it also reestablishes the very concept of “legal services” in village society. That is, barefoot lawyers offer legal services based more on long-term human relationships than on money. Therefore, barefoot lawyers are essentially different from those unlicensed practitioners who seek only economic benefits, and they have remarkable significance in promoting the rule of law and shaping a citizen-society. The so-called “Zhou Guangli puzzle” arises for barefoot lawyers, however, owing to the conflict between the manner in which the state seeks to govern village society and the spontaneous ways in which local interests are expressed, legally and otherwise.

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