Legal Services for the Poor: A Comparative and Contemporary Analysis of Interorganizational Politics

By Mark Kessler | Go to book overview

4
SUBURBAN LEGAL SERVICES: CONSTRAINTS ON POVERTY LAWYERS

Suburban Legal Services resides in a diverse county bordering Metro City. Its population of over 500,000 people is scattered among affluent bedroom communities., old manufacturing towns, and rural farm areas. Nearly 3 percent of its residents earn incomes below the poverty fine and 4 percent are black. A smaller but growing hispanic population also resides in the county.

Inequalities of income and living conditions, quite visible to me during field visits, characterize Suburban County. Its per capita income of over $6,000 ranks it among the wealthiest in this state, but pockets of extreme poverty exist throughout the county.

Interviews conducted with a wide range of people holding various positions in the county indicated a local political system governed by a small number of interlocking elites. The major actors in county politics are leaders of the Republican Party, leaders of the local legal community, and the Republican county commissioners. 1

Suburban County's politics are dominated by a Republican Party machine,, reminiscent of the most effective urban machines in its nearly total control over local political life. The Republican Party's hegemony in Suburban County has not been challenged successfully since the late 1800s, so for the past century it has exerted tremendous control over the county's political agenda and its public sector jobs. In describing the Republican Party's power in Suburban County, the leader of the county's Democratic Party remarked: "The Republican Party just has had no serious opposition since I can re-

-45-

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Legal Services for the Poor: A Comparative and Contemporary Analysis of Interorganizational Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figure and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Toward a Theory of Legal Activity 17
  • Notes 29
  • 3 - The Operating Environment of Legal Services Programs 33
  • Notes 43
  • 4 - Suburban Legal Services: Constraints on Poverty Lawyers 45
  • Notes 62
  • 5 - Metro City Legal Services: Freedom to Pursue Law Reform 63
  • Notes 85
  • 6 - The Lawyers 87
  • Notes 104
  • 7 - The Organizational Context 107
  • Notes 122
  • 8 - The Interorganizational Politics of Legal Activity 125
  • Notes 138
  • 9 - Legal Services and Equal Justice 141
  • Notes 149
  • Appendix a Methodology 151
  • Notes 157
  • Appendix B Research Instruments 159
  • Bibliography 171
  • Index 179
  • About the Author 185
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