Directing the Winds of Change: Using Organizational Culture to Reform Indigent Defense
Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law, Vol. 9, p. 177, 2009
44 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009
Date Written: February, 25 2009
The single-most important factor to an organization's success is the cultural environment that defines it. Business schools have taught future business leaders this lesson for twenty-five years. While business leaders have worked to manage the culture of their corporations, leaders in the indigent defense arena have often failed to understand the concept of culture. As a result, rather than public defenders defining the culture of indigent defense, the culture of indigent defense has defined the public defender, most often to the detriment of the client. In few places was this more apparent than in Pre-Katrina New Orleans.
This article looks at indigent defense in Pre-Katrina New Orleans and argues that cultural factors were largely responsible for an exceedingly low standard of representation provided to indigent defendants there. It then looks to lessons that can be gleaned from business, sociology, and anthropology regarding the importance of culture to the success of an organization and explores a theory of cultural transformation. Finally, using hypothetical scenarios based on the Pre-Katrina experience, this article applies organizational culture theory to suggest methods to overcome the cultural crisis facing indigent defense nationally.
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