American statesman Sargent Shriver called the Legal Services Program the “most important” of all the War on Poverty programs he started; American Bar Association president Edward Kuhn said its creation was the most important development in the history of the legal profession. Earl Johnson Jr., a former director of the War on Poverty’s Legal Services Program, provides a vivid account of the entire history of civil legal aid from its inception in 1876 to the current day. The first to capture the full story of the dramatic, ongoing struggle to bring equal justice to those unable to afford a lawyer, this monumental three-volume work covers the personalities and events leading to a national legal aid movement—and decades later, the federal government’s entry into the field, and its creation of a unique institution, an independent Legal Services Corporation, to run the program. The narrative also covers the landmark court victories the attorneys won and the political controversies those cases generated, along with the heated congressional battles over the shape and survival of the Legal Services Corporation. In the final chapters, the author assesses the current state of civil legal aid and its future prospects in the United States.
- Provides a unique resource for law students enrolled in courses on poverty law, professional responsibility, access to justice, and legal history, as well as for professors teaching these subjects
- Enables readers to see how changes in the larger society have brought new challenges to legal aid institutions—or old challenges in new guises
- Presents a comprehensive, informed overview of civil legal aid written from the perspective of a former professor of law, director of the War on Poverty's legal services program, and appellate judge
- Explores the unusual partnership between a governmental program funding civil legal aid lawyers and an outside professional organization dominated by wealthy corporate lawyers, the American Bar Association (ABA), and how the ABA used its political influence and advocacy to protect lawyers serving the poor when they faced opposition in Congress or the White House
- Documents the remarkable impact of legal services lawyers during the War on Poverty era, including the more than 60 cases they won in the United States Supreme Court in just a 7-year span
- Describes how those supporting legal services in some states managed to develop new innovative sources of funding, such as interest earned on lawyers' trust accounts, when federal revenues for civil legal aid dropped during the 1980s and 1990s
- Provides a revealing case study for those interested in the War on Poverty or other social programs helping the poor