The Emerging Legal Architecture for Social Justice
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Lawyers advocating for social change are now front and center in newspapers and social media. This article discusses how a new breed of progressive lawyers envision social justice law practice today. These critical lawyers are diverse in background, gender, ethnicity and race. They see law as a complex, contradictory tool rather than a necessary and sufficient route to justice. Their practices differ from the traditional non-profit public interest firms of the earlier generation that assumed justice would result if law and lawyers were accessible. To highlight the differences, the article discusses the law practices of Beyond Legal Aid, Law for Black Lives, and TIMEs UP. Beyond Legal Aid is redesigning legal services to produce community partnerships. Law for Black Lives provides legal services to ensure greater equity in criminal procedures. TIMEs UP is radically revising how women respond to sexual harassment at the workplace. These practices seek to democratize the use of law to advance social justice by developing community and client collaborations. The practices rely on revenue from many sources including client fees, small donations through on-line platforms, and volunteer expertise. They seek to develop structures that can provide sustainability, flexibility, and growth including nodes and network models that allows linkage across varied practice sites. Using technology, the central node can serve a network that can stretch across geographic locations and types of organizations. This new architecture requires support from a variety of sources including law schools and peer support groups all of which enable the sharing of ideas and innovations.