Category Archives: Research

Materials from the National Institute for Education in Law and Poverty donated to the NEJL

Thomas Buckley, a retired professor from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, donated his collection of materials from the National Institute for Education in Law and Poverty (NIELP) to the NEJL. Thomas Buckley served as the Deputy Director of the NIELP from 1967-1971. The director was Craig W. Christensen. The Institute was established in 1967 at Northwestern University School of Law to develop and implement an educational program for Legal Service attorneys. The goal wnielpas to go beyond serving “individual clients with individual problems,” and train lawyers as advocates to address systemic issues of poverty and “make new law on behalf of the poor,” writes Buckley. Welfare law and consumer law weren’t even taught at law schools at the time, and the training programs document the dynamic development of these areas of law at the time. The collection includes materials from the 1968 Conference on Welfare Law and materials on the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, prepared by the National Consumer Law Center in 1969.

Thomas Buckley graduated from Fordham University (1958) and from Yale Law School (1961). Prior to joining NIELP in 1967, he was a Visiting Professor at the School of Law at Boston University Law School (1966-1967) and an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota School of Law (1964-1966). From 1961-1964, he was an Associate at Carter, Ledyard & Milburn in NYC. Buckley joined the faculty at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1971.

In re Gault case file digitized

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Norman Dorsen’s argument of In re Gault 387 U.S. 1 (1967) before the Supreme Court. In recognition of the anniversary, the NEJL, in collaboration with the National Juvenile Defender Center, has recently digitized the original In re Gault case file using the Innovation Hub facility at the National Archives. The entire file will be available online at NARA’s website by February of 2017, and the scans can also be requested from the NEJL archivist.

Legal Services History Matters

By Katharina Hering

In her 1998 article Necessary Legends, Marie Failinger reflects about the importance of legal services history. She writes that: “History is crucial for a vision that will sustain a forward movement of legal assistance programs and beat back propaganda against such programs; it is demanded by the client-centered ethic of such programs; and it is important to a continued sense of community within the legal assistance movement.” (268)*

In the aftermath of the elections, reflecting about legal services history has become particularly meaningful. In his remarks at the NLADA Civil Caucus meeting on November 10th, two days after the elections, Don Saunders, NLADA’s Vice President of Civil Legal Services, reminded the audience that the legal services community has successfully managed to sustain programs and the existence of federal funding through challenges by the Nixon and Reagan administrations, as well as by the 104th Congress. Like no other repository in the United States, the NEJL collections document the continuity and transformations of the legal services movement during these challenges.

Reflecting about the meaning of history for the present, Failinger writes: “Like a metaphor, history is both like and unlike our current situation, and it is exactly those similarities and differences which force us to re-think our present, to discover what the ongoing issues of injustice and response have been over centuries, as well as to understand what is new to our situation, and what is likely to change in the future.” (289)

Our oral histories, in particular, offer the opportunity to encounter the stories of the past, and engage with historical reflections by long-time legal services advocates, whether they began their careers in the sixties during the OEO-Legal Services Program, or after the LSC had been established. “For it is in the encounter with the stories of the past that each lawyer’s – each client’s—own story becomes visible and clear to her and becomes transformed for the future.” (268)

Numerous legal services programs have been celebrating their 50thanniversaries in the past two years, such as the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, DC, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and California Rural Legal Assistance, or are planning celebrations soon, such as Legal Services of New Jersey. In the past five decades, all these programs have adopted different strategies to maintain, develop and grow their equal justice legal work, despite these challenges.

The history of the CRLA, in particular, reflects this persistence. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the CRLA this year and to share these stories of the past with a wider audience, the NEJL has made available streaming video files of our oral history interviews with Michael Bennett, who was CRLA’s first Administrator, and Cruz Reynoso, who became CRLA’s deputy director in 1968 and a few months later its director. These streaming files complement our existing collection of oral history interviews that are already online, several of which also cover the early history of the CRLA, especially the interview with Gary Bellow.

Whether to provide comfort, inspiration, or simply information, listening to these interviews in whole or in part offers welcome moments for reflection during difficult times.

Oral history interview with Cruz Reynoso, conducted by Alan Houseman, August 12. 2002. Oral history collection, National Equal Justice Library, Special Collections, Georgetown Law Library, online at: https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/1042295

Oral history interview with Michael Bennett, conducted by Alan Houseman, May 27, 2004. Oral History Collection, National Equal Justice Library, Georgetown Law Library, online at: https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/710421

Other resources:

* Failinger, Marie A., Necessary Legends: The National Equal Justice Library and the Importance of Poverty Lawyers’ History (January 1, 1998). St. Louis University Public Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (1998), pp. 265-291. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1929516

Expanded LSC Records Finding Aid

Let’s C — LSC employees’ newsletter, May 1980. LSC Records, Newsletters series, NEJL.

The NEJl has recently expanded its finding aid for the LSC records (NEJL 012). The Legal Services Corporation Records constitute one of the core collections of the NEJL, and came to the NEJL in several different accessions. Many of the materials were donated from LSC’s in-house library. The collection consists mostly of gray literature – generally defined as publications that are not controlled by commercial publishers, such as research reports and proceedings of board meetings, and of audio-visual materials. The LSC collection is not a traditional manuscript collection and is partially “artificial”: to fill gaps in specific series and to facilitate easier access to LSC materials, materials from other NEJL collections are included in the LSC finding aid, even though they remain part of other NEJL collections, such as the Bill McCalpin Papers.

The records are arranged into the following nine series: 1. Board and committee meetings; 2. Fact books; 3. Budget and appropriation requests; 4. Annual reports; 5. Program directories; 6. Reports and proceedings; 7. training materials, 8. Newsletters and clipping files, and 9. Audio-visual materials.

Experiences of a Legal Aid Lawyer by Junius Allison

When reviewing correspondence files from the early 1990s, the NEJL archivist recently discovered an unpublished manuscript: Experiences of a Legal Aid Lawyer by Junius L. Allison [ca. 1993]. Allison (1909-2003), who was originally from North Carolina, worked at Chicago’s Legal Aid Bureau in the 1940s and joined NLADA’s staff in 1953. From 1962-1971, he served as the organization’s Executive Director. Allison’s manuscript includes detailed recollections of his work for the Chicago Legal Aid Bureau in the 1940s, and his work for the NLADA in the 1950s and 1960s, where he closely cooperated with Emery A. Brownell. From an archivist’s perspective, Allison’s memoirs are also interesting, because they include descriptions of the contents of NLADA’s library in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as descriptions of some of NLADA’s promotional projects, such as the launch of the “Justice” TV series in 1953. The manuscript can be reviewed at the NEJL.

Book reviews

In the past years, To Establish Justice for All: The Past and Future of Civil Legal Aid in the United States by Earl Johnson Jr. (Praeger, 2013) has been reviewed numerous times. Reviews by Art Gilbert in the L.A. Daily Journal, Jan. 26, 2014, and by Toby Rothschild in the MIE Journal, vol. 28, are available on the on the book’s website: http://www.toestablishjustice.com/page1/page1.html

Victor Geminiani reviewed it for the Clearinghouse Review, Vol. 2015, Issue 5, and Alan Houseman wrote a reflection, published in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy, vol. 23, no. 2.