Difficult choices: Providing legal services to the poor

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Richard D. Schwartz


Attorneys, Legal services corporation, Civil law, Poor

Subject Categories

Law | Public Administration | Social Welfare


This research examines individual and organizational reactions to a number of issues faced in law offices funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Data were collected through a series of interviews with attorneys working in two legal services offices. Each office received funding from the LSC, a federal agency that provides grants to law offices that serve the civil legal needs of the poor. Interviews were conducted at three different times, each of which, as a result of congressionally mandated restrictions, was different from the previous visit. This research examines legal services, at a local level, to determine the accuracy of criticism that served as the foundation for restrictions on the LSC. The critics argue that LSC funding is used to advance ideologically biased cause litigation, at the expense of the representation of individual clients. This research documents organizational reactions to restrictions on funding and activity. The research also examines the extent to which organizational differences, especially as they relate to preferences for cause or client oriented representation, have led to different reactions in the offices studied in the course of this research.


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