This book exposes why it is easy to access legal services for some, while it is virtually impossible for others, and why some lawyers have successful careers, but others cannot. This book argues that the problems plaguing legal services in the US can be only be addressed by a radical overhaul of the rules that govern how legal services may be delivered, as well as radical changes to who exercises the power to make those rules. Through interviews with those with experience with alternative legal service providers, this book exposes the formidable obstacles that exist along the path to those changes, as well as the opportunities that await.
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Clifford Winston, Robert Crandall, and Vikram Maheshri argue that these increased costs cannot be economically justified. They create significant social costs, hamper innovation, misallocate the nation's labor resources, and create socially perverse incentives. In the end, attorneys support inefficient policies that preserve and enhance their own wealth, to the detriment of the general population.
To fix this situation, the authors propose a novel solution: deregulation of the legal profession. Lowering the barriers to entry will force lawyers to compete more intensely with each other and to face competition from nonlawyers and firms that are not owned and managed by lawyers. The book provides a much-needed analysis of why legal costs are so high and how they can be reduced without sacrificing the quality of legal services.
The empirical landscape of this book is the contentious political and legal battle over California welfare reform in the early 1970s. Within the context of American pluralism and constitutionalism, and from an analytical perspective, this study examines the professional and institutional character of group legal representation for the poor as a strategy for political empowerment and social change. While grounded in political and legal history, the study’s conceptual approaches primarily draw on ideas from political science and theory about political representation, and from writings in legal ethics and legal education on professional role responsibilities in the legal representation of people and the groups they are a part of.
These principal thematic points emerge, and are supported by prodigious empirical research, experience, and theory: (1) Social cause lawyering is a systemic necessity for the democratic and equitable functioning of our governing institutions; (2) the client constraints on the role of lawyers for groups or causes have more to do conceptually with understandings about the nature of representation than the applicability of ethical or procedural rules; and (3) the political consequences of such legal advocacy are variable and potentially contradictory. Exploring these dilemmas through the story of anti-poverty representation and reform, the author provides a meaningful context to consider the legal representation of the poor beyond mere lawsuits, legal doctrine, and the ubiquitous popular image of the "welfare queen."
The book also features an extended, fascinating, and telling interview with then-Governor Reagan about his plans for welfare reform and the roadblocks and stories he encountered along the way. This new book develops the research and theory first documented in the author's much-cited but formally unpublished Berkeley doctoral dissertation, entitled "Legal Advocacy and Welfare Reform: Continuity and Change in Public Relief" (1975), which is now finally readily available worldwide--in this extensive revision and fresh look at the seismic changes to welfare systems and conceptions of poverty that began in the 1970s.
“In this dramatic and detailed account, Robert Sauté documents the establishment and evolution of the public interest bar, particularly its struggles to provide zealous advocacy for its clients. Through meticulous historical research in case studies of the New York Legal Aid Society, NAACP, ACLU, and Legal Services Corporation, Sauté’s book analyzes how access to the legal system has been affected by cultural and structural changes in society and in American politics. His chapter on pro bono in large firms reveals how a new generation of elite lawyers defines its commitment to professionalism and the poor.”
— Cynthia Fuchs Epstein
Graduate Center, CUNY
Author, Women in Law
“Rob Sauté’s For the Poor and Disenfranchised is a subtle and fascinating history of the development of public interest and poverty law in the United States, analyzing how the legal profession has responded to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised over time. Although there have been many advances in the ways those needs are met, Sauté closely examines the influence of the market, social movements and other factors and suggests that those responses have been inadequate, particularly in light of a legal system moving increasingly to the right.”
— Mark Potok
Southern Poverty Law Center
A new addition to the Dissertation Series by Quid Pro Books.