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University of the District of Columbia Law Review

Abstract

Poverty lawyers, we are told, can do as much harm as good for their clients. This humbling theme has been a fixture in the literature and research surrounding the role of lawyers for the poor for some time. The theme captures several deep truths about poverty law. It reminds us that lawyers for the poor can, and do, exclude their clients in the work that they do, view the lives of clients through the distorted prism of law training and law practice, and tend to expend their energies on remedies and processes, largely litigation oriented, which are unlikely to lead to meaningful change in the lives of the poor. Well-intentioned lawyers for the disadvantaged tend to reproduce with their clients the subordination from which clients seek to escape. This article attempts to offer a preliminary critique of a vision of practice that has emerged in recent years in response to the theme just described.

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