chapter  2
15 Pages

The Neighborhood Lawyer Experiments and the Goal(s) of Social Reform

ByEarl Johnson

During the early development of the neighborhood lawyer experiments the various approaches were expressed almost exclusively in the form of grant proposals and speeches. There is a tendency to think that the ideology behind the neighborhood lawyer experiments was monolithic. The analysis departed substantially both from Sparer’s call for structural reform and Pincus’ desire for more ready accessibility to legal services. The Mobilization for Youth (MFY) Board approved the recommendation that a legal unit should be established, but decided against having the Vera Foundation supervise the lawyers. The MFY legal unit avoided the pitfall that had forced the New Haven law offices to be closed and in the process obtained a permanent recognition of the lawyers’ independence by the MFY Board. The team’s approach to Social-Legal Services differs fundamentally from traditional cooperation between legal and social agencies in that a mechanism for intensive effective cooperation is made possible by the grouping of lawyers and social workers into a team.