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The Lawyer as Public Citizen: Access to Justice

Deborah Weissman
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This course will teach the principles of the lawyer as public citizen and the profession’s obligations to facilitate access to justice through a combination of readings,discussions, practice simulations, drafting exercises, and guest speakers. Major topics to be covered include the history of the provision of legal aid to the poor including the development ofcase law, legal policy, and legislation. It will review the development of poverty law as a subject matter during the 1960s and 1970s, and the subsequent restrictions on legal resources for the poor, including federal legislative restrictions, challenges to law school clinical programs, and reduced opportunities to obtain attorney fees in civil rights cases. The course will include a review of current efforts to expand access to justice for poor communities, critically examined developments in the area of pro bono and professional responsibility, the development of court sanctioned pro se opportunities, community lawyering strategies, the civil Gideon movement,criminal indigent defense, and access to justice for special populations.