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Attorneys & Legal Services

Alchemizing Volume

By Lee Richardson, Jason Auer & Kevin De Liban

Legal services organizations continually strive for impact while being weighed down by the pressures of volume. Five years after implementing a strategic planning process to achieve impact, Legal Aid of Arkansas had a breakthrough year with high-level Medicaid and housing advocacy that significantly advanced the interests of its clients. Legal Aid of Arkansas had to make organizational changes to achieve impact and overcame challenges to maintain a focus on impact amid the vestigial pressures of volume.

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Zebley Counsel Look Back 25 Years and Forward to More Impact Advocacy

By Jonathan M. Stein & Richard P. Weishaupt

The 1990 U.S. Supreme Court case of Sullivan v. Zebley changed the Supplemental Security Income program for children and awarded class relief for about a half-million children who had been illegally denied benefits. The implementation of the victory took more effort than the litigation itself. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Zebley, attorneys involved with the case share their remembrances of the litigation and its aftermath.

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Whence We Come

By Victor Geminiani

Earl Johnson Jr. has written a three-volume treatise that traces the history of the legal aid movement from its inception in 1876 through 2008. He describes the ebb and flow of federal support for legal aid, including the launch of the War on Poverty and the political backlash that followed. This history makes clear the importance of systemic advocacy to the overall vision for the legal aid movement.

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The Possibilities of Self-Affirmation Theory in Civil Justice

By Zachary Hill & D. James Greiner

Legal self-help materials are a critical piece of the access-to-justice movement. But if those materials threaten a litigant’s sense of self-worth, the litigant may ignore their advice. Self-affirmation theory posits that people are more likely to be receptive to potentially threatening information if their self-worth is bolstered before they encounter the threatening information. Applying self-affirmation techniques to legal self-help materials may make them more effective.

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Creating a Good Casebook on Poverty Law: Review of Juliet M. Brodie et al., Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice

By Peter Edelman

Juliet Brodie, Claire Pastore, Ezra Rosser, and Jeffrey Selbin have wrangled the complicated issues of poverty law into a useful new casebook. They examine the changing nature of poverty law practice, how poverty itself has changed over the past 50 years, and the current access-to-justice crisis. They could have focused more on concentrated poverty and education, but still they have created a terrific resource for poverty law professors and students.

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A Letter From the President

By John Bouman

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is "moving into a new era" for Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy. "We are going back to making it free for all of its users, and we are going forward into the era of online publishing to keep the Review as powerful an organizing tool as it has ever been," says Shriver Center President John Bouman.

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Six Steps to Broader Impact

By John Bouman

High-volume, direct-service legal aid organizations would like to increase their impact. The transition to a practice model that fosters a mix of direct services and high-impact affirmative advocacy has six operational steps. Identifying client problems as subjects of broad-based advocacy is followed by brainstorming about responsible parties and strategies. Any decision to proceed with affirmative advocacy is based on a “research action,” which organizations must recognize as valuable expenditure of time and resources.

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About This Issue: Affirmative Advocacy

By Ilze Sprudzs Hirsh

Affirmative advocacy brings about broad-impact solutions that benefit more than one client with the same or similar problem.

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Engaging in Empowerment-Driven Legal Practice

By Hilda Bahena & Andrya Soprych

Empowerment-driven legal practice is a framework for practicing law that requires the client to be engaged in the legal process and relieves the attorney of any expectation to “save” a client. This framework benefits attorneys by making efficient use of resources and protecting against burnout; benefits clients by recognizing their power to take responsibility, set goals, and take action; and benefits the attorney-client relationship with better communication and defined roles. Several tools are available for lawyers who want to shift from “helping” clients to promoting their empowerment.

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About This Issue

By Ilze Sprudzs Hirsh

In this theme issue on consumer law, articles discuss a selection of consumer-rights problems of significance to low-income workers and suggest preventive practices and remedies for violations of applicable law.

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