This resource is from the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change, Volume 15, 2011, pg. 25-66.
Public interest lawyers seeking justice for marginalized groups cannot succeed by working alone. Meaningful social change occurs when marginalized and dispersed peoples unite and organize to take power into their own hands. Such groups benefit greatly by forming relationships with lawyers and including them in their organizing processes. However, existing attorney-client models are inadequate to structure such relationships between lawyers and people in the process of organizing. Traditional paradigms of group representation are designed either for fully-formed, established, and hierarchized groups (e.g., corporate representation) or for constituencies who remain atomized and relatively passive throughout representation (e.g., impact litigation and class actions). The inadequacy of existing models hinders public interest lawyers’ imaginations and makes it difficult for them to structure efficacious, accountable relationships with the groups with whom they work. This paper addresses that inadequacy by defining and illustrating five concrete models of practice for lawyers representing groups in the process of organizing for power and social change.
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