Summer Reading List for students interested in poverty law

A number of 1Ls have asked me for a summer reading list so I decided to put one on the blog. Feel free to add to the list in the comments. These are just the books I think would make for good summer reading. There are of course other good recent books, but they might be better for academics or academic study rather than summer reading (I am thinking of Karen Tani’s States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights, and American Governance, 1935-1972 (2016) and Anne Fleming’s City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance (2018), but maybe I am wrong, maybe those could be good for the 1L summer as well). My list, probably in order, is below:

  1. Jason DeParle, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare (2005) [a great way for students to both learn about welfare reform and about the lives of the poor].
  2. Kathryn Edin & H. Luke Shaeffer, $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2016) [interesting in its own right, but included here because its overview chapter at the beginning of the book is one of the best overviews of the history of welfare programs out there].
  3. Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016) [winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize, included third because it is likely assigned in many upper level poverty classes whereas the first two might not be assigned but are excellent]. My two reviews of this book are here: Yale Law Journal Forum & Fordham Urban Law Journal.
  4. James Forman, Jr., Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (2017) [winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize].
  5. Katherine Boo, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers (2014) [frankly, this is a placeholder; I think students should read one book at least about international poverty for perspective and this a good book to go with, but there are others for different parts of the world].
  6. Peter Edelman, So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America (2013) [a great march through all the ways the government fights against poverty and the history of that fight since President Johnson; a bit academic for summer reading but short enough to be accessible].

[Of course, if you want to break free from poverty books, I am a huge fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera, John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River (for those who have already read Garp), and the novels of Martin Cruz Smith, starting with Gorky Park.]


New Article: Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans

New Article: Note, Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 1852 (2018)

Op-Ed: Don’t ignore class when addressing racial gaps in intergenerational mobility — by William Julius Wilson

Op-Ed: William Julius Wilson, Don’t ignore class when addressing racial gaps in intergenerational mobility, Brookings Social Mobility Memo, April 12, 2018.

New Report from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law: The Shriver Summit: The Future of Justice

The Shriver Summit: The Future of Justice, held on December 1, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois, brought together advocates and experts to explore what we need to secure justice, every day, for everyone.

Call-for-Papers: ClassCrits 2018 Conference: Rising Together for Economic Hope, Power & Justice, Nov. 2-3, 2018

CLASS CRITS CALL FOR PAPERS: 2018 Conference at WVU (Morgantown, WVU): Rising Together for Economic Hope, Power & Justice: November 2 – 3, 2018. Full details after the jump.

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Upcoming Conference: UDC Law’s FHA at 50, Friday March 20, 2018

The registration page is here and the full program can be found here.

New Resource: Eviction Lab

This has received a good amount of publicity this week already–see, e.g., Emily Badger & Quoctrung Bui, In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America, N.Y. Times, Apr. 7, 2018–but Matthew Desmond’s team at Princeton has created and released a large database of eviction records from across the country. The Eviction Lab website, especially its map feature, is worth checking out, exploring, and using as a research tool.

Trump signs Executive Order Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility

The executive order is here. A Vox story presenting its main features is here. In happier and somewhat related news, Paul Ryan announced today that he is not seeking reelection.

Hopefully I will find a placement for the response op-ed I wrote today (though at 1,500 words, it is a bit long for a standard op-ed). . . .

New Article: Life in the Sweatbox

New Article: Pamela Foohey et al., Life in the Sweatbox, 94 Notre Dame Law Review __ (2018 Forthcoming). Abstract below:

The time before a person files bankruptcy is sometimes called the financial “sweatbox.” Using original data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, we find that people are living longer in the sweatbox before filing bankruptcy than they have in the past. We also describe the depletion of wealth and well-being that defines people’s time in the sweatbox. For those people who struggle for more than two years before filing bankruptcy — the “long strugglers” — their time in the sweatbox is particularly damaging. During their years in the sweatbox, long strugglers deal with persistent collection calls, go without healthcare, food, and utilities, lose homes and other property, and yet remain ashamed of needing to file. For these people in particular, though time in the sweatbox undermines their ability to realize bankruptcy’s “fresh start,” they do not file until long after the benefits outweigh the costs. This Article’s findings challenge longstanding narratives about who files bankruptcy and why. These narratives underlie our laws, influence how judges rule in individual cases, and affect how attorneys interact with their clients.

New Article: Isonomy, Austerity, and the Right to Choose Counsel

New Article: Janet Moore, Isonomy, Austerity, and the Right to Choose Counsel, 51 Indiana Law Review 167 (2018). Abstract below:

People who can afford to hire criminal defense attorneys have a Sixth Amendment right to choose a lawyer who is qualified, available, and free from conflicts of interest. The same right to choose counsel is routinely denied to people who need government-paid defense lawyers because they cannot afford to hire attorneys. In prior work, I invoked democratic theory to argue that this de jure discrimination blocks constitutional law formation by poor people and should be eliminated. This Article extends the analysis by explaining how a different theoretical approach—one grounded in libertarian commitments to private enterprise and austerity in public funding—shaped the nation’s first pilot study on counsel choice in a public defense setting. Those commitments sharply limited the measure of counsel choice offered and left the study with insufficient data to support generalizable conclusions. Thus, the study underscores questions about whether an equal right of counsel choice can be meaningful under conditions of austerity and might actually aggravate instead of ameliorate system deficits. The Article concludes that while meaningful counsel choice for poor people may be elusive, the constitutional interests at stake nevertheless warrant elimination of overt class-based discrimination from the vindication of a fundamental right.