Short Title

Social Work and Legal Aid


The history of legal aid is contested and gendered. Like social work, since the late 1800s professionalization and broader political forces have pushed legal aid toward greater focus on individual-level interventions to alleviate poverty. As a result, the capacity of contemporary legal aid programs to work collaboratively with low-income communities to address their legal and non-legal concerns is limited. This article traces the shared histories and commitments of legal aid and social work, calls for an increased collaboration between legal aid programs and social workers, and proposes an anti-oppressive, feminist theoretical perspective to guide this collaboration. By embracing collaboration across professions and using this theoretical lens, both legal aid programs and social workers can more effectively and more inclusively address the broader needs and concerns of low-income communities. Specific recommendations for practice and education are discussed.