Professor Raymond Brescia
This course presents both a practical treatment of several areas of substantive law that affect the poor every day and a more theoretical treatment of broader issues related to representation of the poor. The latter component includes consideration of the politics of welfare reform, the ethical issues of representing the poor, and legal aspects of the economic redevelopment of poor communities. The practical component includes coverage of landlord-tenant law, welfare benefits law, not-for-profit law, and housing and community development law. The course also touches upon areas that often bear upon representation of poor clients (e.g., constitutional law, administrative law, and civil rights law) and includes a strong ethics component. The course ends with a discussion of the role lawyers for the poor should play in the future (e.g., whether the public legal services model can be maintained, whether the "defensive" model of individual representation prevalent in legal services today should be abandoned for a more pro-active, group-oriented approach). Students will be required to write a research paper on an approved topic related to the course. At their option, students may fulfill the paper requirement by conducting research for local legal services practitioners provided that a reviewable work product results from their efforts.