LEGAL SERVICES AND EQUAL JUSTICE
Guaranteeing equal justice for the poor in a society characterized by inequality is an aspiration fraught with dilemmas and potential conflict. This final chapter explores the inevitable difficulties of furthering the goal of equality in the civil justice system. It summarizes the findings of the previous chapters by focusing on the inherent political nature of legal services work and offers some thoughts on why politics pervade the operations of local programs. The chapter concludes with a discussion of advantages and limitations of law reform and service to individual clients, and considers various reform proposals.
The establishment of the OEO Legal Services Program and efforts to insulate it from political pressure in a quasi-public corporation mark important milestones in ensuring some measure of equality in the civil justice system. Since the program's creation in the 1960s, poverty lawyers have represented millions of low-income clients. However, as this study demonstrates, efforts to promote equality by providing the poor with legal advocates run headlong into political reality, a reality that shapes the type of representation afforded the poor. By its very nature, legal services work involves poverty lawyers in political arenas. Legal services attorneys represent the interests of those with few political and financial resources. Because the ac-