Sep 30

The Importance of Legal Representation

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 09/30/2019 11:53AM | Quote of the Week | Justice | War on Poverty

The Importance of Legal Representation

The Importance of Legal Representation

Our Quote of the Week shines a spotlight on a central aspect of the War on Poverty: the need to provide legal representation and other legal services to anyone who cannot afford them. Indeed, granting everyone equal protections under the law is one of the ways we can work to provide justice for all.

Sargent Shriver believed that there could not be peace without justice. An attorney by profession, he worked to engage attorneys around the country in his quest for justice, asking them to become involved in ensuring equal protection under the law for our most vulnerable members of society. His profound belief that guaranteeing legal representation was one way to ensure that all people felt like they fully belonged -- indeed, that they had achieved "full citizenship" -- is expressed in this week's speech, the Address to the Illinois State Bar Association. You can learn more about how Sargent Shriver saw the role of legal services in the War on Poverty here.

Today, the need to provide justice to everyone within our borders feels particularly urgent. Ensuring fair, legal representation for those who cannot afford it, ending mass incarceration, and implementing sweeping criminal justice reforms, the work to create a more just system must be active, broad, and relentless. It is up to all of us to do or support the work, by lending whatever relevant skills we might have, by raising our voices to our political representatives, and by following and supporting the work of organizations who continue Sargent Shriver's work in this area -- like our friends at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.

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