"Reinventing the practice of poverty law"


Legal Aid's human rights framework was the topic of an article, Shifting the Focus, in the winter edition of Northeastern Law Magazine, published by the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. "In Maryland, they're reinventing the practice of poverty law," the article leads. "In 2008, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau began its strategic planning process, during which it started asking constituents a new question: not 'What legal services do you need?' but 'What are your needs?' A subtle shift, perhaps, but one that revealed a major gap between what MLAB was doing for clients and what clients wanted."

Legal Aid assistant director for advocacy for income security Peter Sabonis, a Northeastern Law alumnus, is quoted extensively in the article. "We were almost like technicians, while our clients wanted economic rights,"  said Sabonis, above. "The human rights framework gives us a legally cognizable way to bring the big picture into legal disputes that are usually seen more narrowly."