Inner-City Anti-Poverty Campaigns


This Article offers a defense of outsider, legal-political intervention and community triage in inner-city anti-poverty campaigns under circumstances of widespread urban social disorganization, public and private sector neglect, and nonprofit resource scarcity. In mounting this defense, the Article revisits the roles of lawyers, nonprofit legal services organizations, and university-housed law school clinics in contemporary anti-poverty, civil rights, and social justice movements, in part by chronicling the emergence of a faith-based municipal equity movement in Miami, Florida. The Article proceeds in four parts. Part I introduces the notion of community triage as a means of addressing the impoverished and segregated aftermath of urban development in a cluster of postindustrial inner cities. Part II examines the First Wave of anti-poverty campaigns launched by pioneering legal services and public interest lawyers and their inchoate community triage models. Part III surveys the Second Wave of anti-poverty campaigns pressed by more client- and community-centered legal services and public interest lawyers and their alternative community triage paradigms. Part IV appraises the Third Wave of anti-poverty campaigns kindled by a new generation of legal services and public interest lawyers and their site-specific community triage approaches in the fields of community economic development, environmental justice, immigration, low-wage labor, and municipal equity in order to discern legal-political lessons of inner-city advocacy and organizing. Taken together, the four Parts forge a larger legal-political vision imagined and reimagined daily by a new generation of social movement activists and scholars—a protean vision of community-based law reform tied to clinical practice, empirical research, and experiential reflection about law and lawyers in action.

About the Author

Dean’s Distinguished Scholar, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Ethics and Public Service and Environmental Justice Clinic, University of Miami School of Law, and Visiting Scholar, Brown University Department of Africana Studies.

By uclalaw