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Publication Citation

22 Boston Bar Journal 11 (June 1978)


The Boston Legal Aid Society was founded in 1900. In the years after 1910, led by General Counsel Reginald Heber Smith, the Society assumed leadership of the fledgling movement to offer legal services to the urban poor. Under its influence the first organized attack on the legal problems of the impoverished was launched. The effort had its origins in the social and professional crises that beset turn of the century American cities and lawyers. As described in the first installment of this article, the major difficulty facing the movement during this generative era was how to balance the conflicting demands of legal aid's two major constituencies, the bar and the poor. Three facets of the Society's work reveal how it resolved this problem: its relationship with the local bar, its creation of a distinctive type of legal representation, and its campaign for legal reforms.