Legal Counseling Under Conditions of Uncertainty

This is the first in a series of short blog posts on my reflections after three years of sliding scale law practice entrepreneurship. In each of these posts, I describe various aspects of our model of practice that, I think, are gradually changing the practice of law and the culture of legal practice more broadly. I look forward to your comments and questions.

When I think about what Fair Shake is about, I think about working alongside the disenfranchised and finding options for people in the midst of chaos. In working with a client to navigate those dark waters, the air sometimes feels crisp and our senses stale because of the nonsensical contexts that we, time and time again, find ourselves working through. But we always come back to what we're trying to do at Fair Shake.

For our Residents, we're building legal advocates who are comfortable with complexity, interested in ideas, and capable of finding paths forward in conditions of uncertainty. Those skills developed at Fair Shake are the ones that will matter in a changing legal landscape.

For our clients, in almost every instance we work with clients who are confronted with a situation where they, often for the first time, are realizing that their own government will not protect them. It doesn't take much for the implicit trust that we have in our institutions to turn into a sense of panic and hopelessness. Many, if not all, of our clients come to us in that shocked state. And lawyers are uniquely suited to serve as a partner to people and communities oppressed and ignored in creative and unique ways (not just within the justice system, as my colleague Oday Salim so beautifully reminds me).

After election day, I scrolled through the various maps displaying voter turnout and how voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, among other states, turned the tide of the expected result of the election. The map of the location of our 100+ clients and maps demonstrating the impact areas in Tuesday's election are virtually identical. We knew long before the election that the belief in our nation's systems working for our clients had faded. And that's what is important: that we acknowledge and accept that our system of justice, our system of opportunity, and our system of advocacy have to work for everyone. Fair Shake is about tilting those systems toward working for all in our everyday work and in our model of the practice of law. I'm so honored to be able to continue that work.