Law, Society, and Economy: Centenary Essays for the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1895-1995

By Richard Rawlings | Go to book overview
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15
Legal Services and the Alternatives: The LSE Tradition

CYRIL GLASSER AND CAROL HARLOW


LEGAL SERVICES

It is perhaps not surprising that the LSE and its Law Department have had a long connection with the subjects of access to justice and the provision of legal services for the community. From the School's beginning, in addition to the teaching of core subjects such as contract and tort, teachers at the LSE introduced students to other topics, such as industrial law, which dealt with the application of the law to everyday life. Members of the Law Department have always been interested in, and closely connected with, the legal aspect of work being carried out by economists and social scientists on social policy issues in order to provide practical solutions to political questions. The combination of theory and pragmatism, which has always been a hallmark of the School's approach, has been perfectly suited to the liberal outlook of so many of the LSE's law teachers.

The interest of academic lawyers in subjects which affect the mass of the population directly arose out of a period of industrialisation and economic and social change which brought working people and the poor in direct contact with the law or the need to use its machinery. In the nineteenth century, with the exception of prosecutions for major crime, that connection had been almost entirely with the lower courts--magistrates' courts for most criminal cases, some matrimonial jurisdiction and the operation of the poor law; or the county courts as a small debt collection agency. While this continued into the twentieth century, many new areas of life were affected by the passage of legislation and the work of the courts. Injuries caused by the motor car or by industrial accidents became routine legal work for some sections of the legal profession. The grounds of divorce were slowly widened. Rent restriction, housing and health legislation led to many reported cases. National insurance became a feature of everybody's life. Changes in criminal procedure resulted in a growing need for adequate legal assistance. The establishment of tribunals

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