Legal and Policy Reform

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At times, client interests are best represented by efforts to improve upon the legal or legislative system they face. This is unusual activity for a legal aid lawyer to take on, but occasionally, it is appropriate, just as it is for private lawyers on behalf of their clients.

An example of this kind of activity could involve the question of when low income Pennsylvanians should have a right to counsel. There are certain types of cases in which either the Courts or the legislature have said that litigants should have a right to an appointed attorney. Everyone is familiar with the Miranda right to counsel for someone charged with a crime, but there has not been a right established in many important types of civil cases, such as when a family faces foreclosure or a wife is being abused by her husband.

In important areas such as this, where clients interests are directly at stake, legal services representatives become involved in advocacy to help bring about improvements. The client representation can include working with bar associations and other lawyers across the state; it can include working with other organizations that also assist clients; and it can include close rapport with legislative and administrative officials.