Scholarship in Action and the Syracuse Miracle
Edited by Bruce Kingma
Chapter 5: Community Development Law and Legal Education
Deborah S. Kenn INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY The innovative area of community development law and the evolution of the visionary legal education it has generated are considered to be cutting edge theoretical applications and practice of law. Community development’s unique utilization of the law to facilitate systemic solutions to poverty, and sustainable growth and change in low-income communities maintains an integral role in the areas of social and economic justice and public interest law. With the advent of community development law clinics, it has become an unprecedented way to teach law students not only about systemic poverty and solutions but also to teach them how to be innovators in the law, how to apply complex legal theory to the practice of law, and how to be problem solvers for whoever their clients turn out to be. Community development law applies the law in creative ways to bring about positive change for communities of people, and it does so from within those communities (Simon, 2002; Caftel, 2003; Hauber, 2007). Pedagogically, it is a rich and fertile ground for teaching both complex theory and complicated practice, applying many unique skill sets to creative lawyering and problem-solving. Arising from the theory and practice of lawyering for social and economic justice, community development law has remained at the forefront of legal entrepreneurship for 40 years and has been incorporated creatively into legal education for over 20 years. The field of community development as we know it today arose from the political and social unrest and...
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