Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
May 1, 2012
In this article, Eppler-Epstein calls for more randomized research on legal services and legal needs.
Although most advocates are convinced that their representation of clients makes a difference, the impact of legal assistance has seldom been tested through randomized studies. Results of three randomized studies from Massachusetts, in the areas of unemployment benefits and housing, show mixed results. Legal aid providers must be willing to challenge assumptions and learn from these and future randomized studies to achieve the greatest possible benefits for clients.
Randomized study of legal aid is just beginning. To answer more of our questions, more studies are needed and will no doubt be undertaken, requiring more researchers and more legal aid programs committed to inquiry. We must ask questions such as these:
- Which areas of law make the most compelling claims on our limited resources?
- In which forums is our help most needed or effective?
- How much does pro se assistance help clients?
- Which representation strategies or approaches have the best impact for our clients?
- Which clients need us the most, and are we effectively reaching out to and prioritizing those clients?
In the long run, this effort will benefit our clients. We must put our “knowledge” (or our beliefs) to the (randomized) test in order to maximize the benefit of legal services resources to the clients of the future.
PUBLICATION DETAILSFormat: Commentary
Publication Type: Journal Article
Geographic coverage, US: Massachusetts
Topics: Measurement | Research Agenda | Randomized Research
Who Served: General/unspecified clients
How Provided: Legal Aid Attorneys
Permalink URL of this page: http://legalaidresearch.org/?p=1653
LINKS TO RESOURCESLink to article
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