Notes from the Field: The Role of the Lawyer in Grassroots Policy Advocacy
21 Clinical L. Rev. 393
35 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 20, 2015
In the past decade, domestic workers have built a national, grassroots, worker-led movement to address the systemic exclusion of domestic workers from basic wage and hour laws. They have been widely successful in the last three years with the passage of state domestic worker bill of rights in New York, Hawaii and California, the adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Convention and Recommendation Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, and federal policy changes by the Department of Labor which will extend minimum wage and overtime for the first time to millions of home care workers. Building visibility through worker leadership and broad-based coalitions, the domestic work campaigns have succeeded in gaining fairer treatment under the law. Behind the scenes, legal clinics have played an important role in the fight to expand legal rights for domestic workers. The Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law served as legal counsel to the California Domestic Worker Coalition, providing technical and legal advice on the campaign. This article is a reflection of the Clinic’s work on the campaign, addressing the role of the legislative lawyer in grassroots advocacy, defining the client relationship and structuring client counseling in a broad coalition, how direct services can inform policy changes, and how to integrate students in a multi-year campaign.
Keywords: community lawyering, legislative advocacy, grassroots
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