Poverty Law: United States
International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2d Ed., Forthcoming
NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 31/2012
14 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2013 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 7, 2013
“Poverty law” refers to policy and lawyering strategies to contest inequality. The rise of the federal welfare state shaped the contours of poverty law in the first half of the twentieth century. This combined with the rights revolution at mid-century to mobilize legal services lawyers and courts in the War on Poverty, which was the zenith of the antipoverty movement. The welfare state’s subsequent decline and federal court retrenchment have channeled the antipoverty movement in new directions forged by decentralization, privatization, and globalization.
This encyclopedia entry traces poverty law's history and more recent response to these trends by moving downward (from federal to local), outward (from state to market), and beyond (from domestic to global).
Keywords: access to justice, antipoverty, civil Gideon, globalization, inequality, legal aid, legal services, poverty, poverty law, poverty lawyers, pro bono, rights revolution, war on poverty, welfare reform, welfare state
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