New Article: Tom Lininger, Deregulating Public Interest Law, 88 Tulane L. Rev. 727 (2014). [NOTE: UNFORTUNATELY Tulane Law Review does not seem to offer the article as a PDF from its own website, instead it directs you to paid services]. Abstract below:
The shortfall of legal services for indigent clients is alarming. The present rules seem unlikely to incentivize or require lawyers to address adequately the unmet legal needs of the poor. Several commentators have suggested the possibility that increased regulation could improve access to legal services. Very little scholarship, however, has considered whether the opposite proposition might be true: Could deregulation actually improve the availability of legal services for the poor?
This Article will consider four fairly radical proposals: (1) liberalizing the restrictions on foreign attorneys in order to allow outsourcing of legal aid services to India and Mexico, (2) permitting the practice of public interest law by laypeople in related fields such as family counseling and social work, (3) suspending the application of certain ethical rules to individuals and firms that exceed a minimum number of pro bono hours, and (4) reining in the American Bar Association’s accreditation requirements in order to allow the creation of “public interest academies” that would provide a low-cost alternative for law students who aspire to practice public interest law.
Close scrutiny reveals that the first three of these proposals are not viable. But the fourth proposal could transform American legal education and greatly advance the goal of equal access to justice. This Article concludes by noting some potential objections to the proposal for public interest academies and by identifying areas for future research.
Quick note: for those teaching poverty law from the Brodie et al. textbook, I am happy to share the powerpoint slides that I am using this semester with anyone who wants them; just send me an email. -E.R.
Pilot Study Preliminary Report: Jeffrey Selbin & Justin McCrary, Got Clean Slate? New Study Suggests that Criminal Record Clearing May Increase Earnings, SSRN Aug. 2014. Abstract below:
The more staggering impacts of the decades-long wars on crime and drugs are well-known. Almost seven million Americans – one in 35 adults – are incarcerated or under correctional supervision (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013). As many as one in four adult Americans has a criminal record, mostly for arrests and misdemeanors (NELP, 2011). By age 23, almost half of all African American men, more than a third of white men, and almost one in eight women have been arrested (Brame, et al., 2014). Arrest, conviction and incarceration records create collateral consequences that too often serve as a lifelong obstacle to employment, education, housing, public benefits and civic participation (National Institute of Justice, 2013).
Perhaps spurred by these disturbing trends, public defender offices, civil legal aid providers and law school clinics have established “clean slate” programs to help people avail themselves of criminal record clearing remedies. Studies consistently find that people with criminal records have dramatically reduced job prospects and income. However, until now we have had only anecdotal evidence that clean slate programs improve employment outcomes or earnings for people with criminal records. Gainful employment is critical to successful reentry for the tens of millions of Americans with a criminal record because it has the potential to reduce recidivism and related social and economic consequences for individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities.
Through a retrospective study of clients served by the East Bay Community Law Center’s Clean Slate Clinic, we analyzed the impact of obtaining criminal record remedies on their subsequent earnings. To our knowledge, this study is the first quantitative assessment of whether clean slate programs improve reported earnings. Through econometric techniques to control for the effects of changes in the larger economy on earnings, we can report two preliminary findings:
(1) People with criminal records seek clean slate legal remedies after a prolonged period of declining earnings. This finding has implications for the delivery of clean slate legal services to people with criminal records, including targeting earlier intervention to help prevent deteriorating economic circumstances.
(2) Evidence suggests that the clean slate legal intervention stems the decline in earnings and may even boost earnings. It is too early to tell if the boost is significant and sustained, but halting the decline in earnings suggests that the intervention makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives and is a key component of an effective community reentry strategy.
This blog post is aimed largely at law students, not at law professors. But I have felt I should say something about the topic of law student transfers for some time, if for no other reason than so that I can point them somewhere. My students almost inevitably discover I was a transfer student myself (Georgetown to Harvard) so I get inundated with emails that run something like this:
Student: “Can we meet sometime to talk about something not related to Property Law?”
Then they come to my office and immediately want to close the door to talk about a “sensitive topic.” If this weren’t my first time, my nervousness would shoot way up, but having heard the spiel before, I know the next line is, “I’m thinking about transferring.”
Let Them Eat Cash – NYTimes.com. (Could be good as an assignment for a class.)
For those adopting or thinking about adopting Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice (2014), the chapter-by-chapter teacher’s manual is now available on the publisher’s website under “Professor Materials.” To get access to the teacher’s manual, feel free to email any of us (Juliet Brodie, Clare Pastore, Ezra Rosser, and Jeffrey Selbin) or contact your Aspen representative. The front matter is here: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2391540. We are also happy to discuss the book and teaching poverty law with anyone who is considering the book and/or the class. Our hope is that the book (and the teacher’s manual) will be of use and will help more schools and professors offer the class.
From the Clinical Law Prof Blog: Carrie Hagan, “But How Do I Teach…?: Poverty,” April. 22, 2014.