chapter  1
17 Pages

The Legal Aid Movement and the Goal of Equal Justice

ByEarl Johnson

The legal aid movement was dependent on local bars for support but, as Harrison Tweed, Emery Brownell, and other legal aid leaders were frank to admit, unfortunately the bars tended to be apathetic or hostile when initially approached about establishing legal aid facilities; it is surprising that anything was accomplished. This chapter traces the evolution of the most relevant attitudes shared by policy makers in the legal aid movement. Reginald Heber Smith, who maintained a position of leadership in the legal aid movement through the 1950s, warned that equal justice was not merely a goal for the legal aid movement but a prerequisite for the survival of American democracy. The men who went out in the field to sell legal aid to the local bars soon learned that flowery speeches about equal justice and the moral responsibility of the bar did not produce new legal aid societies.