Community Education: Creating a New Vision of Legal Services Practice
Clinical Law Review, Vol. 4, pp. 433-484, 1998
52 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2009
Date Written: September 29, 2009
Poverty law scholars have increasingly encouraged legal services practitioners to move away from conventional litigation-based practice and instead to envision their role as helping clients to recognize their potential to help themselves. According to these new perspectives, poverty lawyers should spend more time listening to client concerns, helping clients to become problem-solvers, finding spaces for community voices, and encouraging the formation of grassroots organizations. In contrast to these scholarly visions of lawyering, however, federally-funded Legal Services programs where most poverty lawyers practice remain entrenched in a practice that emphasizes high-volume litigation as a strategy for fighting poverty. This Article traces the development of the Legal Services Corporation and discusses some of the regulatory and institutional impediments to moving beyond the traditional litigation model. Next, it describes a community legal education program at a Chicago legal services program. The Article concludes by arguing that community education is an important, and overlooked, strategy for working with marginalized groups that can bring everyday poverty practice more in line with emerging models of client-centered community lawyering.
Keywords: community education, community lawyering, Legal Services Corporation, clinical legal education
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