April 25-28, 2001
three days in April, 2001, LSC brought together 51 representatives of the legal
services community—program staff at all levels, client board members and
representatives of community organizations, and other stakeholders, including
state IOLTA Directors, a judge, and a private attorney who chairs a state
planning committee, as well as 25 guests, representing national organizations,
and LSC staff—to discuss a broad range of issues relating to the broad theme
of “creating client centered communities of justice.” All of the
participants have been involved in one way or another in client-centered
activities in their home states and all made a commitment to follow up with
client centered initiatives at home when they returned from the conference. LSC
selected the participants from among the applicants with an effort to reflect a
broad range of diversity—by program role, race, gender, and type of
identified the objectives of the conference as:
conference was truly designed to be a “conversation.” No effort was made to
achieve consensus or to reach conclusions or decisions. Rather, the goal was for
participants to share their thoughts and ideas and listen to one another. The
LSC design team—Ernestine Watlington, Edna Fairbanks-Williams, Randi Youells,
Michael Genz, Robert Gross, Reginald Haley, and Regina Derzon—and Facilitator
John Tull created a structure designed to promote informal, open-ended
discussion. Before the conference, as a stimulus to discussion, participants
were provided with a group of papers addressing a variety of different issues
from a range of different perspectives. At the conference, the authors of some
of the papers, along with a few other participants, made brief presentations
about particular client-centered initiatives they are involved in. Some
discussion took place in plenary sessions, but much of the conference was
devoted to discussion in small groups. There were four randomly-chosen small
groups, each led by a team consisting of one client representative and one staff
person (program or national). Small groups discussion in the first two days of
the conference focused on changes affecting client communities; models for
client centered legal services; and technology-based delivery of services. The
key points of these discussions were noted on flip charts, but no final report
was made back to the plenary session. On Saturday, the final day of the
conference, each participant was
asked to respond in writing to three questions:
questions served as the basis for the last small group discussions, which were
reported back to the plenary group as part of the final conversation of the
were enthusiastic about the value and quality of the discussion and urged that
it be continued in other contexts. In the final session, facilitator John Tull
summarized the main themes that had emerged during the conference as:
richness of what is going on at the program and state level.
Participants heard about a number of exciting initiatives that are very
different, but all client centered in their own ways. Those that generated the
most discussion were community economic development, holistic approaches to
delivering services, technology based delivery mechanisms, and involvement of
client councils in building leadership and capacity in low-income communities.
In John’s words, “We all felt that we learned a great deal we had not known
before. We are all taking away more than we brought.”
need for broader connections and new partnerships. Participants spoke of
“getting out of the legal services box,” breaking down institutional
barriers, and finding new and different ways to engage with client communities
and other agencies and groups who work with them.
importance of involving clients in the delivery of legal services and the need
for greater inclusiveness in client representation. Participants stressed
the importance of involving clients in legal services in meaningful ways at all
levels of the system. In light of the increasing diversity of country, it is
especially important that programs reach out to emerging communities.
need for capacity building at national, state and program levels.
Institutional structures for including the client viewpoint need to be
strengthened at all levels. Providing training and capacity building within the
client community must be a key role of these structures.
need for continuing conversations. Many
conference participants commented on the high quality of the discussion at the
conference and the fact that people were really listening attentively to one
another. Participants agreed about the need to build on and expand the
discussion at the conference, through newly created structures that will make it
possible to broaden the discussion to include others in the community.
in the plenary sessions and small groups focused on the following major areas:
following sections report on these discussions in more detail. A final section
reports on discussion concerning the value of the “conversation” begun at
the conference and the need to continue and expand it in the future.
This Report was drafted
by Robert Echols, an independent consultant engaged by LSC to serve as the
reporter for the conference.|
The Report aims to capture the vitality and the
“conversational” nature of the conference. Much of it consists of direct
quotations from individuals, with a minimum of characterization or paraphrase
by the reporter.
of the statements in italics are
direct quotations by individual participants. They
come from one of two sources: the
individual written “insight” forms, described above; or notes taken by the
reporter during the plenary sessions and some parts of the small group
Any text included in
brackets [like this] was added to
make clear that the comment was made in response to a particular question.
The reports of
discussions in the small groups are based on the flip charts made during the
session. These were transcribed by LSC and circulated to participants after
the opening plenary session, Alan Houseman presented an overview of his
conference paper on the demographic and other changes affecting client
communities and the new legal issues that are emerging as a result. While
emphasizing the importance of looking beyond the census data, which
under-reports data about many issues affecting low-income people, participants
confirmed that these changes were having a major impact on their communities and
the communities they serve.
small groups, participants were asked to discuss the following questions:
“What’s happening in your community (changes in who clients are, changes in
clients’ lives, emerging legal issues facing low-income people)? What should
legal services providers/state justice communities be doing in response?”
changes in client communities and clients’ lives mentioned in the discussions
include the following:
following were identified as emerging legal issues:
specific suggestions offered in response to the question, “How should legal
services be responding to these changes?,” included the following:
following broader approaches were also identified. They are discussed more fully
in the sections that follow:
the opening plenary and a subsequent plenary devoted to State Justice
Communities, several participants expressed their opposition to LSC’s role in
reconfiguring programs in their states, arguing that the results were counter to
the goal of “client-centered communities of justice.” These concerns
resurfaced in a few written comments:
some states, the struggles over configuration have gotten out of control. The
potential value has been less than the damage they have caused. From what I have
seen, configuration decisions have not involve much in the way of client input.
should back off of configuration (but not state planning).
and breadth of service is the issue, not mere reconfiguration.
expressed support for LSC’s state planning initiative as a positive agent for
necessary change. Still others expressed the view that programs affected by
configuration decisions should put their frustration behind them and move on to
address the concerns of clients.
was surprised at the anger many people have toward LSC, especially with regard
to the push for statewide programs. The anger and resistance to change could
seriously harm clients in these communities for some time.
my state, the programs have merged. It was hard, but the merging gave them a
statewide scope of work. The system is client-centered. It’s up to us as
clients to help make it be what we want it to be.
my state, state planning has increased services, especially for people in rural
President John McKay responded that LSC had encouraged states to include clients
in their planning processes and pledged to redouble LSC’s efforts to ensure
that the client perspective was heard. He also stated that the overall objective
of state planning has been to expand services to clients through expanding
resources at the state level. He emphasized LSC’s support for efforts in the
areas of community education and community economic development, as well as a
special concern about access to services for the rural poor.
the conference, participants stressed the importance of involving clients and
bringing a client perspective to state planning processes.
State planning needs to have a broader focus on
what’s happening in client lives, not just designing a legal “system.”
State planning should be more client-centered.
are inviting powerful organizations to help make decisions about service—the
judiciary; the Bar; private attorneys; the attorney general, the legislature;
other agencies serving clients. They are removed from clients. They can discount
staff. Clients must be in the room.
Many of the themes raised in these opening sessions were discussed in more depth in the following days, as reported in the following sections.
MODELS FOR CLIENT-CENTERED LEGAL SERVICES
plenary sessions, participants heard presentations about models representing
different approaches to “client-centered legal services.” The models were
selected from projects described in papers submitted for the conference or
projects that people attending the conference were involved in. The models
presented were not intended to represent all of the possibilities, but rather to
illustrate the range of different approaches that can be successful. The models
small groups, participants talked about ways that they might apply these
different approaches in their own programs and states. Among the general points
that emerged were the following:
specific issues or approaches that were mentioned include:
discussions and the individual written comments about the insights that the
participants had gained from the conference make it clear that participants were
excited about the rich potential of the various models that were discussed. Many
people commented that they had learned a great deal about different ways of
solving problems and expressed their enthusiasm about what they had heard.
Although several participants noted that the words “client-centered” and
“empowerment” mean different things to different people, overall the
participants were enthusiastic about the diversity of approaches.
programs presented are a great incentive for participants to either work on the
same idea or expand to meet the clients needs. The suggestions and ideas make me
realize that with the “I can attitude” our programs can implement changes to
meet our clients’ needs. CDBG and other suggestions can make a difference to
our clients,. We ought to try. All the projects can change lives in positive
client-centered ideas for use by my domestic violence program….this has given
me some ideas on how to improve our legal services “thinking out of the
box.” I thought of ways to provide better, innovative service.
client-centered approach should embrace all ranges of assistance—community
economic development, technology, pro se, individual lawyering. We need to
“think out of the box” (A term I hate) and develop more approaches to serve
client (but serve them in a way that meaningfully resolves the issues rather
than apply a band-aid).
Many participants spoke of the importance of adopting a more
inclusive, holistic approach to providing services—working with a broader
array of providers and approaching the client as an whole person rather than a
We need to break down institutional barriers. Other
agencies and groups provide doorways to client and clients provide doorways to
Legal services needs to get out of its box and
connect with the community in new ways – e.g. use technology to link community
agencies to legal aid, train hospitals to spot legal issues, have a presence in
court houses or similar places where clients are. “Community lawyering” has
different meaning to different people but it needs to be anchored in what
clients need, not what legal aid lawyers think is best. To determine client
needs requires that providers connect with client communities in new ways.
We must reach out to more than the justice
community, to a broader coalition.
should be more inclusive in developing strategies and programs for the
We need to make lists for all programs of who their
partners could be and train the lawyers and client board members to reach
out to these organizations and train them to work with each other. Each program
must be forced to interact with the public organizations in a way that promotes
the welfare of the community at large and the feeling that everybody is one big
family helping each other with all programs….the churches can help in many
ways and are not asked enough to do their share. The churches know the problems
of their people and can convene group discussions and make people feel like they
are one in the community with everybody. This will achieve empowerment for all.
have to get a away from “just us” mentality and look at the needs of the
client community more broadly. There are lots of client who are involved in
other networks, for example, the disability network. Our clients are not just
the people who know us, but the people who don’t know us as well, the people
who relate to other entities.
at people needs—not just legal needs.
have to work more closely with other programs. All of the programs should get
away from protecting their turf and collaborate more.
participants identified Community Economic Development as an approach that
should be promoted. Client involvement was seen as a key component.
CED work can be an effective method for involving
clients and creating bridges and collaborations with other agencies.
LSC needs to hear about the need for community
economic development. It’s something that we can do for communities as a whole
and that give hope to communities.
Legal services lawyers should be assisting, but not
leading, movements for change.
We must redefine case work to include economic
Importance of the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit)
to community economic development.
to work more on CED—tax credit effort—tax clinics.
number of participants emphasized the importance of openness to change in the
legal services community.
Local legal services leaders—directors, long-time
staff, long-time board members, including long-time client board members—need
to be more open to change and learn to deal with it—apart from personal
self-interest—so emerging needs of clients are served.
Change, change, change—it’s coming. Programs
will have to be innovative or be swallowed up in programs that are willing to be
innovative in meeting the unmet needs of clients. Our job descriptions simply
cannot remain the same and we must be open-minded to new ideas and new faces of
ideas, because we are simply not providing services to as many eligible people
if we maintain the current delivery of services…My small program must come to
grips in realizing that change in order to facilitate more effective delivery of
services. The fight will be convincing the program, the easy part will be
becoming stronger via partnerships with other agencies that service people as we
do, once the fight with the program is over. Network, network, network…use
models, ideas from others who have been successful. [The role of LSC should be]
guidance, rather than expecting improved performance by mandating it—provide
programs with their expertise.
Programs and leaders need to welcome change and
improve their ability to listen to different perspectives and work in multiple,
To be receptive and view our work on a continuum
instead of absolutes. No matter how effective we may believe our system to be
there will not be change and improvement without this receptiveness.
Many participants identified the range of diverse, creative client-centered models presented at the conference as one of the high points of the event. Overall, participants were extremely enthusiastic about the richness of what they heard. As will be reported in more detail below, many participants recommended that LSC serve as a clearinghouse for information about initiatives of this type.
TECHNOLOGY-BASED DELIVERY METHODS
systems for delivering legal services—support for pro se/self-representation,
hotlines/ telephone-based intake, advice and referral systems, web sites,
email/list serves—emerged as one of the central subjects of discussion at the
conference. Issues relating to technology came up in one way or another in all
of the small group sessions. In addition, one set of small groups sessions was
devoted to entirely to discussion of technology-based delivery methods.
Cohen, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, California,
made a presentation about the program’s I-CAN! project, a system designed to
help clients to fill out judicial forms on their own. I-CAN! uses a
sophisticated, touch-screen computer with audio and visual components to provide
explanations and ask questions that the client answers to complete a particular
form. It then prints the form and instructs the client where and how to file it.
Users can respond to questions in a language other than English and have the
form printed out in English. I-CAN! “kiosks” are currently housed in two
locations: the Orange County Superior Courts Family Law Center and the offices
of Legal Aid Society. Bob emphasized that the service did not represent a
substitute for representation by an attorney, but rather provided support to
people who were currently going without any assistance at all.
discussions, participants identified a number of problems or challenges
associated with the use of technology:
also discussed a number of potential problems or issues associated with
providing services that are less than full representation (advice, referral,
support for self-help):
the arguments raised by those supporting the expansion of technology-based
services were the following:
discussed the potential of technology-based delivery methods for improving
services to clients in a variety of ways:
agreed that providers need to be careful that technology-based systems are
implemented in ways that actually serve clients:
their written comments, a number of people identified the potential of
technology for improving services to clients as one of the major insights that
they had gained from the conference:
can radically expand the availability of certain simple services.
Importance of our community’s involvement in the
creation of technology to expand access to public services.
the changed substantive environment in which clients must live, particularly the
opportunities and pitfalls of the advancing technology revolution.
We will never get away from the individual one on
one service—this is the backbone of LSC programs—but with the future of
technology and economic development we can also help many more.
Technology will be an important link to clients and
we must be ahead of that curve.
If we don’t expand technology someone else might
and they will not approach it from the
National organizations need to ensure that state
organizations use technology to provide for client self-help at every level and
be responsive to needs to clients.
is inevitable and needs to be implemented in client-friendly ways.
We need to continue to push to have legal services people understand and embrace how technology can help our clients and legal services in delivering services. Need to make sure that rural as well as urban areas have technology resources.
participants focused on the need to provide support to self-represented people:
participants focused on the need to provide support to self-represented people:
services must provide focused, in-depth assistance to the large group of people
who are self-represented in courts and administrative agencies.
I continue to reject the nation that technology and
pro se programs will create a two-tiered system—there is already a two-tiered
system and the bottom tier comprises pro se litigants who receive no assistance.
People being able to help themselves legally and
getting information and training to overcome poverty.
We should not set up a dichotomy between individual
clients and the low-income community as a whole or between pro se and more
extended representation—all are necessary.
a few participants disagreed about the potential of these approaches.
In our state, we have established a hotline and created videos and so on. It’s still not enough. Clients are not being served by technology and pro se.
from Washington is inconsistent with the value of client-centeredness. There is
an increased emphasis on doing something for everyone, pressure to do more
cases. This can disrupt relationships with individual clients and client groups
and is potentially destructive of the core values of legal services.
attorneys want to work on cases, they don’t want to be on the phone. Clients
can’t help themselves in the judicial system.
discussed more fully below, a number of participants stressed the importance of
providing support and training for clients in the use of technology.
The discussions about technology and its “opportunities and pitfalls” proved to be some of the most stimulating of the conference. This was also an area in which individuals who espoused differing points of view frequently found in discussing their concerns that their differences were less great that they originally supposed. Certainly there was broad consensus that technology is a tool, not an end in itself, and that technology-based delivery methods cannot substitute for full legal representation where it is needed.
of the discussion throughout the conference focused on different models for
client participation, involvement, and engagement, and for ensuring that legal
services are provided in ways that are client-centered. Key themes that emerged
comments reflected these themes:
Successful legal services can only happen where
there is a vital, active client community with its own voice. We need to work to
create and sustain new leaders in the client community.
A very good reminder of the importance of involving
clients/client community representatives in the process.
[Insight:] the importance of client involvement in
the delivery of legal services…and the lack of client involvement in my state.
lawyers need to pay better attention to what is happening to the
minority/low-income population, particularly in litigation/legal issues that
affect that population. We need to be conscious and remind ourselves of the
reality of white privilege. Money can lead to class divisions and we are here to
make a level playing field for all concerned.
Our client leaders have much to offer to the
broader community. They can teach our programs and our program partners a lot.
They can also teach other client leaders (in a broader community) about what it
means to show leadership.
The clients at this conference demonstrated the
creative, insightful and critical role that powerful clients must play at all
levels of decision-making in legal services. Together we are vibrant.
need to be involved – it needs to be real.
really saw how important client participation is. I know I want to be more
involved with my local agency as a client rep. I will be more into the
community, educating possible clients.
Just how involved some clients can be in their programs.
client involvement is needed.
groups … at national and state levels at staff, board, and communities of
justice level must reflect the client communities we serve (race, culture,
national origin, income backgrounds) to the maximum extent possible.
program is way ahead of the curve and must continue to be so. Our client board
members encourage us to expand our services beyond traditional legal services.
to form true partnerships between attorneys and clients. (This is not a problem
in my state. There is a partnership relationship that exists.)
need to be more involved at the local, state, and national level in
understanding the current environment surrounding federal legal services and in
planning for the future. There is a need for renewal of effort in involving
clients in the access to justice struggle and in my state we need to have legal
services leaders rededicate themselves to spending time and money
developing client leaders… I plan to be a leader in developing some kind of
client council in my state.
stressed the importance of ensuring that clients are representative of their
communities and that the whole spectrum of client communities are represented.
Some stressed the need for continuing development of new client leadership.
Need to insure that all cultures are
represented—in whatever context makes sense. Need to be sure that client
representatives speak from all points of view of client community.
councils occasionally require new blood.
Need for increasing client diversity.
Need to develop improved communication with broader
community needs to develop new client leaders and new staff leaders—longtime
leaders may need to step aside.
Board members need to go back and be accountable to the community. There are
lots of clients who have no relationships with client communities.
to raise up new client leaders form emerging immigrant groups.
discussed the need for capacity-building to support client involvement at the
program, state, and national levels, including institutional structures both for
ensuring consideration of the client perspective and for developing and
supporting leadership within client communities. Specific models that were
Our state should begin forming a client council. We
rely too much on what we think we know from clients who walk in the door.
The Georgia Clients Council provides a particularly
good example of clients who are advocates (getting public housing set up) and
trainers (training other clients in leadership skills) and active in the support
for legal services—letter writing campaigns.
[In my state] consider funding a position to work
with client councils or at least have the Community Economic Development unit
work with client board members (they have board training module) to get them
involved in advocacy and outreach; could perhaps work toward rehabilitating the
state Client Council.
Client organizations with a strong institutional
base are more likely to be better informed and capable of bringing a powerful
voice to the room rather than a token presence. Due to budget cuts,
reorganizations and crisis, most LSC grantees have fallen away from supporting
strong client councils and other institutions that support a powerful client
voice. At this moment in history, as we broaden our communities of justice, it
is more critical than ever that there be a powerful client voice at all levels
of decision making.
should be regular meetings of clients at national level. There should be a
strategic plan for client involvement at every level.
is an attitude of exclusion and culture of exclusion—the talents of clients,
while acknowledged as being important, don’t appear to be actively sought out,
recruited, and enhanced. This group, the board of the program I’m from and my
guess, most programs, are not reflective of the communities we are or should be
serving. [Changes in my program/ state should include] ensuring greater client
involvement, not only in numbers, but more importantly in leadership
opportunities and with increased responsibilities. While we have done very
holistic state planning, the next step for my state should be a new initiative
on client participation.
Absence of historical/institutional perspective/discussion; limited vision of
client capabilities and as partners; people’s vested self-interest prevents
“servant-hood.” As a national community, can we start over? mission/purpose:
defining justice—more than the courts? Creating justice synergy.
The weakness of client council nationwide and the need for closer networking and
communicating with other areas, especially on a worker/client basis. Need to
push client council interests to first place on LSC agenda; push for meaningful
regional meetings to continue exchanging ideas and offering support. LSC should
be partners working with people.
saw LSC as playing a leading role in developing these capacities and promoting
client-centered legal services in other ways. Potential LSC initiatives that
were mentioned included:
needs to be very clear about what organizations need to do. For example, a set
of directives, etc. Some organizations need direction because without it, they
would chose to remain stagnant, despite the fact that our client base and their
problems are ever-changing.
should mandate client board member skills and leadership development; fund a
national client organization; intentionally incorporate client empowerment in
legal services delivery system models (capacity-building, not just client
councils); continue the conversation(s).
LSC should support client groups with training
opportunities and other assistance.
LSC can help establish a clearinghouse for client
There is fear in working with client groups and
others because folks feel this might be taken as grassroots lobbying. LSC can
send out suggestions based on successful projects throughout the national and
welcome other programs to try such innovations.
[LSC should] redefine case reporting to include
LSC should fund networking among clients and
training for client board members from each legal services service area in all
needed areas, such as technology, legal issues, training of trainers, etc.
If LSC mandates “encouragement for different
approaches” then Directors and staff will be more willing to come out of their
comfortable zone to develop and implement new changes. Technology plays a
role—a big role—but is not the only way. Small steps can also help clients.
Also, LSC can encourage programs that want to try new approaches to visit,
connect, or somehow make things easier so the people that already did the
program can “mentor” the other program. Does LSC keep track of all the
innovative ideas in a way that other programs can have access to it? That can be
first step to network agencies throughout the country. This is a great
opportunity to help and expose other programs to excellent ideas and projects
already going on. LSC can expand their own network for cooperative work. If LSC
reaches out then other agencies can participate in areas that LSC has
LSC should develop client leadership and make sure
that at least the client board members have a computer.
[LSC and national organizations should] collect
best practices and share info, provide training devoted to new ways of working
in the community and to active, holistic intake.
[LSC and national organizations should] work in
collaboration and partnerships with other client-based organizations.
[Role of LSC:] (1) model, require cultural changes
in exploring new ways of expecting and responding to changes. An example is Head
Start programs must do a community needs assessment every three years that is
broader requirement than LSC’s priority-setting requirement. A community needs
assessment would look not only at priority legal issues, but also demographic
information, location of facilities in response, changing external conditions,
etc. (2) LSC needs to institutionalize measures regarding client involvement.
Staff are understandably myopic regarding the need to reform self and have fears
regarding changing location, job descriptions, changing learning curves, etc.
Consequently, asking programs to report not only who client board members are,
but what the attendance is, how those members are involved in committee work,
what the other opportunities for involvement are, etc. (3) LSC needs to explore
creative ways to ensure cultural relevance in involvement—the organizational
model excludes cultural groups rather than includes.
[LSC/national organization role:] ensuring that
clients are participating in state planning processes at all levels—on
committees, the governing group, etc.; ensuring stable ongoing funding for a
national client organization, remembering the lessons of the past so that it
deals with substance, not who gets to go to NLADA meetings.
LSC should provide a mechanism for a strong
national voice and presence for clients.
[LSC should] help raise some money outside of
government to help train clients and staff in managing change, strategic
planning skills. It would be nice to have someone at LSC who could have a
position as a grant-writer/developer.
of LSC:] networking with clients; funding separate client board members
organization in each service area for training in all needed areas such as
technology, legal issues, training of trainers, etc.
LSC could rehabilitate the National Client’s
Council. If there is a National Clients Council, it could compile and publish
its history from its beginnings in the early 1970s. Learning history of past
struggles is important. LSC could play a role in cataloguing models and
practices from various programs—could include some of the things brought out
in workshops (substantive and organizational)—could be posted on web site.
LSC should fund a National Clients Council to
provide training, leadership, coordination and support for local programs.
Create an institution that will encourage or force states to provide leadership
in this area by evaluating client participation in: competitive bidding
criteria; annual reports/any other evaluations; directive like community
planning letters. Ask how clients were involved in statewide planning, strategic
planning, priority setting technology.
LSC should support creation of National Clients
Council to train and organize clients; develop blueprints, etc., for programs as
a how-to”; mandate client involvement in state planning.
many participants specifically called for the creation of clients councils at
various levels, others argued that the client leaders and representatives should
be integrated into broader organizations rather than segregated into separate
organizations, such as clients councils.
leaders have articulated a sense of isolation. We shouldn’t increase that by
promoting separate client organizations. We’ve had separate organizations
before and they don’t work. We need to insist that clients be fully integrated
into larger organizations. There may be separate client sections, but they
should be part of and inform the organizations as a whole.
The changing nature of our client communities means
we must look more broadly at client leadership. We cannot go back to the old
“client council” model. We must develop new means of tapping into client
organizations and being relevant to them. We (staff and board) must go out into
the community. We don’t have to be the organizers of groups but we must be
present at others groups’ meetings. We can’t expect folks to gather around
the “legal services” issue. We must go to neighborhood meetings. etc., and
prove to the community that we are a partners and we have an important role to
play to help the groups get where they want to go. We need training programs
about the need to do this.
There are already national organizations—not
helpful to invest in another. LSC could allow some funds for an annual clients
training conference at the NLADA conference or freestanding. There are issues of
LSC restrictions and congressional implications that need to be considered more
This conference demonstrates the value of bringing
together clients and non-clients. We tend to segregate ourselves at other
A Clients Council is not the (best) only national
approach, as people need to develop local skills and cultures around connecting
to local client communities.
participants specifically felt that the role of the NLADA Client Section should
be expanded to build these capacities at the national level, or that NLADA
should otherwise expand its activities in this area
client policy group and client section can be supported and further developed.
They should see themselves as link between legal services and other community
groups and help programs link also.
conference] reinforced need to assure that clients board members and client
council members are well-rooted in their communities….the need to better
identify, organize, and train client statewide to have an effective role in
program and statewide planning and implementation. NLADA Client Section needs
substantial outreach and needs to find funding to develop better training.
is inadequate leadership at the national and state levels to support strong
client institutions. NLADA should seek resources to pay for client
organizations; also coordinate with VISTA, Americorps.
should help raise some outside money and provide more client development.
noted earlier, some participants called for mechanisms to ensure client
involvement in state planning processes.
my state] clients are involved in state planning, through focus groups and
opportunities to comment.
To develop a forum and a mechanism for client
involvement in state planning.
participants argued that client involvement efforts should be focused on
substantive issues rather than “legal services” issues, or delivery rather
a mistake to organize clients around legal services rather than substantive
issues—housing, health care, economic development.
involvement needs to move its focus from board involvement to program-building
and involvement in the delivery system.
While participants had a variety of different perspectives
about how best to achieve real, meaningful client involvement and engagement,
there was no disagreement about the importance of the goal itself.
comments indicate that the goals for the conference identified by LSC at the
outset were met. Again, they were:
Participants were overwhelmingly positive about the quality
and value of the discussion and expressed the need to continue it and expand on
it in other forums.
In discussion, participants emphasized the importance of the
issues discussed here and the need to continue and build on these conversations.
Currently there are not contexts where this can happen—or if they do exist,
there are not enough of them. Participants emphasized that LSC should make the
report of the conference broadly available and should provide opportunities to
build and follow up on it, through the web site and though promoting similar
opportunities for discussion in the future.
participants attributed the success of the conference to the fact that people
truly listened to one another, respected one another’s viewpoints, and were
open to learning from one another.
need to do more listening.
all benefited from listening to one another. LSC should provide listening
important real listening is.
Remember to listen to the feedback, suggestions,
and requests of clients as opposed to plugging people into your paradigm.
Diversify staff training to maximize listening skills.
conference showed the value of really listening to one another.
opportunities for dialogue, but accept that in our “house,” there is room
for all your children.
a number of participants had high
praise for the strengths of the conference participants and of the legal
services community in general:
It feels very good to know that we the clients can
work alongside LSC for the same causes.
Even though all the “isms” (racisms, sexism,
classism, etc) still happen, this is a really fine group of good people trying
What a great group of people I am affiliated with.
What a vibrant, creative community we are,
particularly when clients are active, participating partners.