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

By Mark Kessler | Go to book overview

9
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.


POLITICS AND LEGAL SERVICES FOR THE POOR

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-

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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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