'Poor people get hit by cars too; they get evicted; they have their furniture repossessed; they can't pay their utility bills. But they do not have personal legal problems in the law school way. Nothing that happens to them breaks up or threatens to break up a settled and harmonious life. Poor people do not lead settled lives into which the law seldom intrudes; they are constantly involved with the law in its most intrusive forms. ... Poverty creates an abrasive interface with society; poor people are always bumping into sharp legal things. The law school model of personal legal problems, of solving them and returning the client to the smooth and orderly world in television advertisements, doesn't apply to poor people.'
Stephen Wexler ‘Practising Law for Poor People’
The Yale Law Journal. Vol. 79: 1049, 1970.
This book is concerned with the legal problems encountered by people whose lives are disadvantaged: disabled people, carers, homeless people, people on low incomes, people falling foul of immigration law … it is a long list. People in this position often experience multiple and synchronous legal problems (‘clustered problems’) for which the traditional ‘single issue’ lawyering approach is ill equipped. Such people – to cite Stephen Wexler – ‘do not lead settled lives into which the law seldom intrudes; they are constantly involved with the law in its most intrusive forms’. Their legal challenges don’t come in single discrete packages (eg a personal injury claim, a house purchase, a divorce) but are multiple, interlinked and successional. No sooner has one problem been addressed than another is encountered.
The research underpinning this work derives from a six-year study of the legal challenges experienced by disabled children and their families and of many more years trying (all too often unsuccessfully) to use the law to challenge the myriad social injustices that define the lot of those who live with disadvantage.