chapter  8
48 Pages

The First Seven Years: Testing the Potential of Legal Services to the Poor

ByEarl Johnson

For the Legal Services Program, the original constituencies were prominent lawyers supporting the legal aid movement and the reformers who created the neighborhood lawyer experiments. A lawyer for every poor person with a legal problem is probably a fair characterization of their ultimate goal. Individual poverty lawyers, local Legal Services agencies, and the national program itself must make choices among cases and clients. In a lawyer-scarce situation, the most legal services for the greatest number of people translates into handling as many simple problems as can be undertaken in the course of the attorney’s day. Total commitment to the goal of social reform, on the other hand, would lead Legal Services lawyers and administrators to take only those cases which promise a major quantum of social change. The stagnant national budget foreclosed the opportunity to open independent Legal Services organizations in the South.