chapter  3
32 Pages

Birth of the Federal Program

ByEarl Johnson

This chapter explores the people and events that produced both the merger and the Program. The emergence of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Legal Services Program is partly accounted for by the presence of certain individuals in certain key positions at just the right time. In any event, community action program flexible mission opened up unparalleled opportunities for trying out pet ideas and expanding undernourished programs for the poor at Federal expense. The idea for a National Legal Services Program financed by the Federal government actually originated before the OEO legislation was enacted. With Federal funds for a legal services program at least a possibility, the task force focused on the mechanics of putting the program across in local communities. The criticism of existing legal aid practices was continued in a speech by Charles Parker, a prominent private attorney who was president of the board of New Haven’s second and surviving experimental program, the Legal Assistance Association.