Context, Continuity and Difference in Poverty Law Scholarship

(1994) 48 University of Miami Law Review pp.999-1062

64 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2012 Last revised: 24 Aug 2014

See all articles by Ruth Buchanan

Ruth Buchanan

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: 1994


The subject of this article is the evolution over the last thirty years of the theories of the practice of poverty law. This article examines that evolution through the prism of contemporary scholarly debates in which the critiques of the new scholars are pitted against the experience and commitments of the older practitioners. These debates are misleading for two reasons. First, they are constructed upon an artificial; dichotomy between "new" and "old" lawyering approaches, which overlooks or minimizes the ongoing struggles among practitioners and scholars. Second, the process of comparing abstract models of lawyering removes lawyering practices from the socio-historical and discursive contexts that give them their meaning and utility. This article is an attempt to deepen the scholarly debate over different approaches to poverty lawyering by examining in detail social, historical, and political conditions during the two periods of scholarly proliferation on the subject. The article also explores constitute struggles among scholars within each period. In part, this is the continuation of a project that has bean with Louise Trubek in an earlier paper, which will further articulate and contextualize what is called the "critical lawyering" vision. This article, however, will attempt to take a more objective and nuanced view of both the "old" approaches that are being critiqued and the "new" perspectives that have generated these critiques.

Keywords: poverty, law, lawyering, context, scholars, practitioners

Suggested Citation

Buchanan, Ruth, Context, Continuity and Difference in Poverty Law Scholarship (1994). (1994) 48 University of Miami Law Review pp.999-1062, Available at SSRN:

Ruth Buchanan (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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