Legal Services: “Establishing the rule of in lawless territory”

“This new breed of lawyers has volunteered to sacrifice the assured security of traditional career lines, to forsake the well-trod path that leads step by step from law clerk to senior partner — and instead, to venture forth into the ghettoes, the rural pockets of poverty, the Indian reservations and migrant worker camps. These volunteers are manning the outposts of our society, establishing the rule of law in lawless territory.”
Sargent Shriver |Chicago, IL| June 16, 1966

Our Quote of the Week captures the intrepid spirit of Legal Services attorneys who, during the War on Poverty, were charged with providing civil legal assistance to individuals who were not able to afford at attorney.

Sargent Shriver spoke these words during the Address to the Illinois State Bar Association in 1966. An attorney by profession, Shriver knew the importance of addressing injustice. He believed that our society could not truly be peaceful without justice, and he worked to engage attorneys around the country in his quest to ensure that Legal Services, a program of the War on Poverty, would be embraced by members of the bar around the country. His profound belief that guaranteeing legal representation was one way to ensure that all people felt like they fully belonged -- indeed, that they had achieved “full citizenship” -- is expressed in the speech. You can learn more about how Sargent Shriver saw the role of legal services in the War on Poverty here.

Today, the need to provide justice to everyone within our borders feels particularly urgent. When we envision a just world, we envision fair, legal representation for those who cannot afford it, an end to mass incarceration, and the implementation of sweeping criminal justice reforms. It is up to all of us to do or support the work of justice, by lending whatever relevant skills we might have, by raising our voices to our political representatives, and by following and supporting the work of organizations who continue Sargent Shriver’s work in this area.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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