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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 73698 Find in a Library
Title: Law Centre Movement - Professionalism and Community Control (From Essays in Law and Society, P 127-142, 1980, Zenon Bankowski and Geoff Mungham, ed. - See NCJ-73690)
Author(s): M Stephens
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd
Boston, MA 02108
Sale Source: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd
9 Park Street
Boston, MA 02108
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The development and operations of Great Britain's law centers are discussed, as are current problems and the issue of community control.
Abstract: Although the opening of the Noth Kensington Law Center in 1970 appeared to be a radical departure from the British legal system, in actuality the system has remained firmly traditional. A report by the Society of Labor Lawyers mentioned the community action approach of American law centers, but recommended an English format of one-to-one professional-client relationships with a minimum of community projects. Many of these open-door centers experienced a heavy influx of individual cases and had to develop ways to restrict caseloads. A few centers had adopted a closed-door policy, and were able to conduct a dialogue with community groups. Today, four main types of law center operations can be identified: the fully open or partially closed centers with large individual caseloads; centers linked with the citizens' Advice Bureaus; specialist centers which receive referrals from other local agencies; and resource centers which focus on community action and education projects. The operations of Holloway, Newham Rights, Brent, and Adamsdown law centers are described. These centers have concentrated on outreach work and experimented with community control. Major problems limiting community participation have been the manipulation of the management committee by the center's professional staff and the influence of lawyers who serve on these committees. Local people should be involved in the work of the law centers, possibly by mixing into the center staff. In an effective system of communal control, the professional domination of lawyer-client relationships and work patterns must give way to an organization in which knowledge and expertise are not only shared with community groups but are put at their disposal. Footnotes and a bibliography of 24 references are included.
Index Term(s): Community involvement; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Legal aid services
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