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Abstract

Reginald Heber Smith's 1919 book, Justice and the Poor, is one of the most important books about the legal profession in history. It found that people without money were denied access to the courts. Smith argued that this failure to provide equal justice undermined the social fabric of the nation. Accordingly, he urged a number of actions, including simplifying court procedures, creating small claims courts, and providing the poor with access to lawyers. These lawyers would deliver a full range of legal services to their clients, including seeking reform of the substantive laws that burdened the poor. Smith's book shamed the elite bar into action and led to the creation of the modern legal aid movement. As we come upon the 1 00th anniversary of its publication, Justice and the Poor reminds us that we are not much closer to Smith's vision of equal justice than we were in 1919.

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