Title of Presentation: Legal Education, Low Income Communities, and Informal Justice

Names of all Presenters: Robert Rubinson

Short Abstract: Courts have increasingly turned to informal ADR processes as a means for low-income disputants to resolve disputes. As the operation of two clinics in two U.S. cities demonstrate, informal justice offers both benefits and risks to low income families. There are, however, ways to maximize benefits and minimize risks. For example, ethical rules should be revised to reflect and facilitate the rise of informal justice, such as mandating that lawyers gain competence in informal justice and requiring that attorneys counsel clients about the availability of informal justice. Law schools could also do a much better job teaching informal justice. Clinical instructors in particular have a crucial role to play in teaching students best practices in ADR, educating students about dispute resolution methods available to low-income litigants, and inspiring students as they enter practice to use their newfound expertise in informal justice through pro bono work or full-time careers.

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