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JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary



........No. 3 9 8



Reginald Heber Smith, of the Boston Bar

John S. Bradway, of the Philadelphia Bar
w ith Preface by

William Howard Taft
Chief Justice United States Supreme Court





20 C E N T S P E R C O P Y


I am indebted to Mr. Ethelbert Stewart for the opportunity to
read the following report on a subject of great importance. He has
asked me to write a preface to that report, and I am glad to do so.

The growth of legal aid work in the United States, as set forth
herein by Mr. Reginald Heber Smith and Mr. John S. Brad way,
discloses a field for practical reform in our administration of justice
of great value. The social changes in our people, the transfer from
country to urban life of the majority, the influx of peoples of
foreign birth, and the great increase in the cost of litigation to
persons taking part in it have together seriously impaired the use­
fulness of our courts to those who most need their protection. Our
just pride in the institutions derived from the common law, em­
bodied in our Federal and State Constitutions, is much of it in the
maintenance of individual rights. They are chiefly valuable in
enabling the individual, without dependence on executive favor, to
maintain and defend in the courts his life, liberty, and property.
The peculiar value of our constitutional Bill of Rights is not in high
sounding declarations of substantive right, whose preservation is
generally enjoined upon all Government authority in every country.
They are to be found in the fundamental law of most States of the
world and are too often more honored in the breach than in the
observance. The real practical blessing of our Bill of Rights is in
its provisions for fixed procedure securing a fair hearing by inde­
pendent courts to each individual. It makes these adjective rights
inviolable. The right of trial by jury, the right to be defended
against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right requiring due
process in the deprivation of life, liberty, or property illustrate the
practical realization in Anglo-Saxon liberty of vesting the power in
the individual as an individual to obtain, without cultivating the
favor of official authority, fixed judicial procedure to protect his sub­
stantial rights. But if the individual in seeking to protect himself
is without money to avail himself of such procedure the Constitu­
tion and the procedure made inviolable by it do not practically
work for the equal benefit of all. Something must be devised by
which everyone, however lowly and however poor, however unable by
his means to employ a lawyer and to pay court costs, shall be fur­
nished the opportunity to set this fixed machinery of justice going.
It was the consciousness of the harshness of the circumstances in
shutting poor people out of the opportunity to appeal to courts that



induced Arthur von Briesen, that philanthropic leader of the bar,
to organize and set on foot legal aid societies. This paper by these
two gentlemen shows how much has already been thereby accom­
plished in furnishing to poor people good legal advice and good
legal service.
Such societies have increased in various parts of the country and
differ some in their organization, in the sources of their maintenance,
whether by the bar, or by social aid societies, or by municipalities.
The success o f them and the real good that they have done are a
testimony to the high spirit of many lawyers and reflect credit on
the bar. Without expressing a final personal conclusion on the
subject, it seems to me that ultimately these instrumentalities will
have to be made a part of the administration of justice and paid for
out of public funds. I think that we shall have to come, and ought
to come, to the creation in every criminal court of the office of
public defender, and that he should be paid out of the treasury of
the county or the State. I think, too, that there should be a depart­
ment in every large city, and probably in the State, which shall be
sufficiently equipped to offer legal advice and legal service in suits
and defenses in all civil cases, but especially in small claims courts, in
courts of domestic relations, and in other forums of the plain people.
A great deal has been done to promote the achieving of justice
for the poor and unfortunate in workmen’s compensation acts.
They have expedited just recoveries and have relieved the burdened
courts, enabling them to dispose of other litigation heretofore long
It may be necessary, in order to prevent unwise or improper litiga­
tion, to impose a small fee for the bringing and carrying through o f
a suit by such free agencies. The department of free legal aid
should be charged with the duty of examining every applicant and
looking into his actual poverty and necessity and the probably just
basis for his appeal. It may be well to unite both civil and criminal
cases and make the public defender a part of the general department
of free legal service. The growth of these legal aid organizations
is the most satisfactory proof of their necessity.
We are greatly indebted to the gentlemen who have made this
report, with its interesting exhibits, for proving, as they do prove,
that the Congress and the legislatures of the States have within their
grasp an opportunity for relieving our present judicial system of
the just criticism that, in view of present court costs and the ex­
pense o f lawyers’ services, the equal protection of our laws is not
infrequently denied.
W m . H. T a f t .
W a s h in g t o n , D. C., June 0 , 1925.

Chapter I.— The wage earner and the law______________________________
Chapter II.—Existing difficulty------------------------------------------------------------5-8
Chapter III.— Delays in legal procedure________________________________
Chapter IV.— Court costs and fees in litigation_________________________ 9-14
Chapter V.— Necessity for employing attorneys-------------------------------------- 14-20
Chapter VI.—Development o f remedial agencies________________________ 20-22
Chapter VII.— Small claims courts----------------------------------------------------------22-30
Chapter V III.— Conciliation tribunals___________________________________30-32
Chapter IX.— Industrial accident commissions__________________________ 32-36
Chapter X .—Administrative officials------------------------------------------------------ 36-43
Chapter XI.—Defender in criminal cases________________________________43-60
Chapter X II.— Origin and development of legal aid organizations______ 60-67
Chapter X III.— National association o f legal aid organizations_________67-73
Chapter XIV.— Work o f legal aid organizations_________________________ 73-80
Chapter XV.— Types of legal aid organizations_________________________ 80-87
Chapter XVI.— Present extent o f legal aid work_______________________ 87-94
Chapter X VII.— Legal aid and social service agencies----------------------------- 94-98
Chapter X V III.— Legal aid and the bar________________________________ 99-105
Appendix A.— Draft of proposed statute providing for in forma pauperis
procedure__________________________________________________________ 106-111
Appendix B.— Massachusetts Small Claims Court act and rules o f court- 112-117
Appendix C.— Work o f legalaid organizations_________________________ 118-122
Appendix D.— Ordinances establishing munipical legal aid bureaus______
Appendix E.—Constitution and by-laws o f the New York Legal Ai.d
Appendix F.— Suggestions concerning the formation of legal aid organi­
zations____________________________________________________________ 127-139
Appendix G.— List o f legal aidorganizations in operation in 1925______ 140,141
Appendix H.— Constitution o f National Association o f Legal Aid Organi­
zations____________________________________________________________ 142-145




NO. 398


Ja n u a r y , m m


To understand the obstacles which confront a wage earner when
he seeks redress for a legal wrong or protection for a legal right
through an appeal to the administration of justice, and to appreciate
the difficulties which handicap our courts in their efforts to grant cer­
tain and speedy relief to the wage earner in common with all other
citizens, it is first of all necessary to recall to mind the profound
social and economic changes that have occurred in the conditions of
American life. There is no other method of approach that can define
and explain our existing problems and set us on the road that may
lead to their solution because no other approach strikes deep enough
to lay bare the fundamental causes.
When the latest census figures were published we learned that for
the first time in our history the population o f the United States had
become predominantly urban. By 1920 more than half of our people
had become dwellers in cities, and this development proceeds apace
with no sign of abating. From 1790 to 1800, while the structural
framework of our present legal system was being securely laid, there
were only six cities or towns that could boast of more than 8,000
inhabitants, and their aggregate populatioiC%as only 4 per cent of
the total population of the country. The most recent census statistics
reveal that American civilization, taken as a whole, has definitely
passed from the simpler conditions of agricultural and frontier life
to the complex, intricate, and more ruthless conditions of an indus­
trialized society. Cities spring up in the wake of factories, and they
are inhabited chiefly by the persons who earn their livelihoods in
those factories. Our wage earners, numbering more than 26,000,000
persons, now constitute our most rapidly growing class or group, and
this fact alone justifies the effort to explain in this bulletin how the
administration of justice may be brought into closer harmony with
the peculiar needs of this great constituent part of our citizenship.
In recent years much has been written concerning the law and its
effect on the collective interests of wage earners; there is a volumi­
nous literature on the law of labor unions, collective bargaining,
strikes, picketing, closed shop, injunctions; but little space and
attention have been devoted to the law as it affects the individual
claims and the individual rights of the wage earner and of his
family in their everyday life. It is the purpose o f the authors of this




article to exclude all consideration o f the collective disputes of labo,
and to confine themselves to the legal problems of the individual
laboring man or woman. However vital and important the larger
topics may be, there have been moments in the lives o f thousands
of men when the collection of their overdue wages was the most
important thing in the world, because it meant the difference be-,
tween food and hunger, and there have been similar moments in the
lives of countless women when the collection of compensation for a
husband’s injury or death meant the difference between independence
and destitution. At times our legal system has failed these plain,
honest, humble folk in the hour of their need and it will continue
to function imperfectly until more people are awakened to an ac­
curate understanding of the situation and are prepared to give their
support to definite remedial measures that have been devised in the
last 10 years and that are already in successful operation in various
parts of the country.
The outstanding characteristic o f our American law is the spirit
o f fairness that pervades and permeates it. Our law is solicitous
of the righteous claims of every man, be he rich or poor, and whether
he be of high or low estate. Its ideal is to render exact justice to
every person, whether citizen or alien, who lives within the juris­
diction of the United States. In so far as the goal can be attained
by stating clearly the ends to be sought through our legal system,
that has already been done in our Federal and State Constitutions in
language that we can not hope to improve upon. In its conception
it is sublime: No man shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or
property without due process of law. Every man is entitled to the
equal protection of the laws.
The history of these two great phrases has been summed up by
Mr. Hannis Taylor in his book on “ Due Process of Law and the
Equal Protection of the Laws,” as follow s:
Just as due process of law is a purely English creation, so the closely related
principle now embodied in the formula, “ the equal protection of the laws,”
is purely an American creation. It is the natural and inevitable expression of
that sense of equality
is the undertone of our national Ufe. In the
words o f Mr. Justice Brewer: “ Equality in right, in protection, and in burden
is the thought which has run through the life of this Nation and its consti­
tutional enactments from the Declaration of Independence to the present
hour.” That equaUty never adequately secured before, either by constitu­
tional guaranties or by the common law, was put for the first time upon a
firm foundation by the addition at the end o f section 1 o f the fourteenth
amendment of the clause declaring that no State shall “ deny to any person
within its jurisdiction the equal protection o f the laws.” Such is the final
outcome of the struggle instituted in the reign o f Henry II, who undertook
not only to establish the reign of law but to reduce all orders o f men to a
state of legal equality before the same system o f law. That kind o f legal
equality which neither the constitutional nor common law o f the mother
country was ever able to establish has appeared for the first time upon the
soil of the New World.

When a Massachusetts statute attempted to grant relief in the
eourt of equity to certain persons and to deny it to others the
supreme court o f the State declared that the act was unconstitu­
tional, saying: “ It is one thing to affect the scope of equity by
extending or restricting it; it is a quite different matter to enact
that some citizens may resort to it while others may not. Abso­
lute equality before the law is a fundamental principle o f our



A contrast may help us to realize the majesty of our American
concept of equality before the law. Writing in the Illinois Law
Review for January, 1922, Mr. Allan J. Carter quotes a general
order issued on November 1,1918, by the Extraordinary Commission
or “ Chaika,” which had unlimited power over the Russian judicial
system, that contained the following direction:
Do not seek in the dossier of the accused for proofs as to whether he
opposed the Soviet Government by word or deed. The first question that
should be put is to what class he belongs, o f what extraction, what education
and profession. These questions should decide the fate of the accused.

The distinction between the legal rights of different classes had
by the third century A. D. been deliberately set up by the Roman
Government. Mr. William Stearns Davis tells us in his book, “ The
Influence of Wealth in Imperial Rome ” :
When men stood before the judge the first question would b e : To what class
do you belong? Are you one of the honestiores, a municipal official or ex­
official, a great landowner—are you rich? Are you of the humiliores— a
laborer, a small tradesman, an artisan, a petty farmer? In the latter case
you can be beaten with rods, crucified, flung to the beasts, or suffer other
cruel punishment; if you are rich, no matter how guilty you are, no such fate
can befall y ou ; the law will deal with you gently.

It is clear that the theory of American law is altogether sound
and admirable and we may proceed to inquire how far we have
succeeded in translating this theory into action. How far have we
been able to secure actual equality before the law? There is excel­
lent reason to believe that in the earlier stages of our national de­
velopment the administration of justice did secure actual equality
to a very satisfactory extent. It is unnecessary to idealize the past,
but it is true that the courts faced a far simpler task. The people
of the.United States were vigorous, self-reliant, and homogeneous;
shrewd common sense had been inculcated into them by the very
conditions of life, for they lived in small towns and in agricultural
communities. Comparatively speaking, there was little litigation
and little need of it. In the lower courts the litigant could, and
often did, plead his own case. When a lawyer was needed one
could be secured at small expense or even for no fee, because nearly
every man personally knew and was known by some lawyer in his
This much of past history is stressed only because it helps us to
realize that whatever the shortcomings of our present administration
of justice may be they are not inevitable nor are they incurably inter­
woven into the texture of our legal institutions, but are rather the
result of the tremendous forces that, beginning with the last quarter
of the nineteenth century, have irrevocably altered the complexion
and the conditions of American life. Those forces were immigration,
the rapid rise of the wage-earning class, and the ever-increasifig
growth of urban population, all differing aspects of the central fact
that we were rapidly evolving from an agricultural to an industrial
type of civilization.
“ Regardless of the fact,” writes Prof. Albertsworth in the Ameri­
can Bar Association Journal for July, 1922, “ that population had
enormously increased and large cities had grown up within a short
time, all involving greater demands and speedier justice, court or­
ganization and procedure were left unchanged in this country.”




No one realized quickly enough that our rigid court organizatioi
with its too mechanical rules of procedure would be unable to cope
with these new conditions and would in fact^be swamped by the
enormous mass of litigation inevitably engendered by those condi­
tions. For the breakdown that followed it is idle to blame any
individual, group, or class. It has taken a large number of legal
scholars many years of study and research to acquire a clear per­
ception of the causes and the possible cures. In fact, it has been
necessary to evolve a new conception of the duty o f the administra­
tion of justice in a modern democratic urban community. The
leader among these pioneering legal scholars has been Koscoe Pound,
dean of the Harvard Law School, and his account of what has
transpired may be accepted as an authoritative summary o f the
causes and events that produced the problem that to-day confronts us.
In his latest book, “ The Spirit of the Common Law,” he states:
To deal adequately with the civil litigation of a city, to enforce the mass o f
police regulations required by conditions of urban life, and to make the
criminal law effective to secure social interests, we must obviate waste o f
judicial power, save time, and conserve effort. There was no need o f this
when our judicial system was framed. There is often little need of it in the
country to-day. In the city the waste o f time and money in doing things
that are whoUy unnecessary results in denial of justice.
A third problem o f the administration of justice in the modem city is to
make adequate provision for petty litigation, to provide for disposing quickly,
inexpensively, and justly o f the litigation o f the poor, for the coUection o f
debts in a shifting population, and for the great volume o f small controversies
which a busy, crowded population, diversified in race and language necessarily
engenders. It is here that the administration o f justice touches immediately
the greatest number of people. * * * The most real grievance of the mass
o f the people against American law has not been with respect to the rules o f
substantive law but rather with respect to the enforcing machinery which too
often makes the best of rules nugatory in action. Municipal courts in some o f
our larger cities are beginning to relieve this situation. But taking the coun­
try as a whole, it is so obvious that we have almost ceased to remark it, that
in petty causes— that is, with respect to the everyday rights and wrongs of
the great majority o f an urban community—the machinery whereby rights are
secured practically defeats rights by making it impracticable to assert them
when they are infringed.
Moreover, there is danger that in discouraging litigation we encourage
wrongdoing, and it requires very little experience in the legal aid societies in
any of our cities to teach us that we have been doing that very thing. Of all
peoples in the world we ought to have been the most solicitous for the rights
o f the poor, no matter how petty the causes in which they are to be vindicated.
Unhappily, except as the organization o f municipal courts in recent years has
been bringing about a change, we have been callous to the just claims o f this
class of controversies.

To insure clarity and to provide an adequate background for what
follows it has been necessary in the foregoing pages to consider our
basic legal ideas and something o f our legal history; but the problem
o f makmg justice readily accessible to all, including the great army
o f our wage earners, is far more than an abstract legalistic contro­
versy. It is a matter of life and death for a democracy because, in
the words o f Harlan F. Stone, formerly Attorney General o f the
United States and now a Justice of the Supreme Court, “ it can not
survive if it can not find a way to make its administration o f justice
competent.” In similar vein Mr. Charles Evans Hughes says: “ It
is idle to speak o f the blessings of liberty unless the poor enjoy the
equal protection of the laws.” Lord Shaw, in his address to the
American Bar Association in 1922, stated the point without quibble



or evasion when he said: “ That society is rotten where one citizen as
against another can overpower him or undermine him by law
wielded with an uneven hand. Onty the blind, cruel, or the unjust
in heart can wink the eye at this unnameable curse.”
A final quotation taken from an address by Judge Kimbrough
Stone, of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals^ will serve to
indicate the logical starting point for a critical analysis of the exact
nature of our present difficulty: “ Civilization can not exist without
law. Law is useless unless actively effective.” Granted that the
fundamental principles of our law are sound, the question becomes
how far have we succeeded in making the provisions of law actively
effective amid the stress and strain of modern life.

Our administration of justice often fails to secure actual justice
in the actual case o f the plain everyday citizen. This is not be­
cause we have too few courts or too few judges or because the judges
fail to work diligently and faithfully in the endeavor to decide
fairly and honestly every case that comes before them. On the
contrary, when a case actually gets before the judge we may be
reasonably sure that justice will be done. The difficulty is* that
innumerable cases never come before the judge because the persons
who need judicial aid find themselves unable to get their cases into
court. This again is not due to the fact that we have too few laws.
The consensus of opinion is that our fundamental trouble, the root
difficulty of the situation, is that we have failed to make our laws
actively effective.
The Texas Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that within nine
months ending September 1, 1922, 493 wage claims involving more
than $200,000 and affecting several thousand workers were referred
to it and that it was able to make collections in only a small number
of cases. The Bureau of Labor of Porto Rico in 1922 reported that
in 70 per cent of the wage claims referred to it collections could not be
effected. The Montana Department of Agriculture, Labor, and In­
dustry in its report for the years 1919-1920 refers to “ the difficulty
so often experienced by the common laborer and the farm hand
in the matter of collecting wages,” and concludes: “ It seems almost
incredible that past legislatures have failed to provide some simple
and inexpensive method of collecting wages of employees, other than
the present prolonged, technical, and costly process of bringing
suit in the civil courts.” It is reasonable to infer that when a bu­
reau composed of intelligent men failed to collect a wage claim,
the wage earner if left to himself would find the task impossible.
The laws o f Montana and of Texas do not sanction the nonpayment
of debts; in common with the laws of all other States they require
wages to be paid and they provide for a suit in the appropriate
court to enforce payment. Doubtless the American Telephone &
Telegraph Co. collects its bills in these States as it does in all other
States. But for the average man generally throughout the country
the laws have not been actively effective. As the Commonwealth
Club of California in a special report on this subject stated in
1920, “ the cost of collecting small claims by suit at law is now so




great and is subject to such delays that the poor man must endure
his losses, however unjust they may be.”
In the field o f personal injuries—a matter o f vital interest to wage
earners—it must be admitted that the old master and servant law,
even if it had been properly enforced, was utterly inadequate. In a
decision written by Justice Winslow, of the Supreme Court of Wis­
consin, the situation has been given its classic exposition:
In the days o f manual labor, the small shop with few employees, and the
stagecoach there was no such problem, or, if there was, it was almost negli­
gible. There was no army of injured and dying, with constantly swelling
ranks marching with halting step and dimming eyes to the great hereafter.
This is what we have with us now, thanks to the wonderful material progress
o f our age, and this is what we shaU have with us for many a day to come.
Legislate as we may in the line of stringent requirements for safety devices
or the abolition of employers' common-law defenses, the army of the injured
will stiU increase, and the price of our manufacturing greatness wiU still have
to be paid in human blood and tears. To speak of the common-law personal
injury action as a remedy for this problem is to jest with serious subjects, to
give a stone to one who asks for bread.

The Pittsburgh survey revealed that out of 355 cases of married
men killed in accidents 89 dependent families received nothing, 113
received $100 or less, and 61 received between $100 and $500. Work­
men’s compensation legislation was speedily enacted in 43 States,
and the antiquated theory o f liability for fault gave way to the
modern and more humane principle ox insurance for all work acci­
dents. The lasting success of the compensation acts, however, lies
in the fact that they provided new methods of making the law
actively effective by tearing down, as we shall see later in Chapter
IX , those procedural obstacles that prevent an efficient administra­
tion of justice.
Despite an era of prolific legislation, no such drastic overhauling
has been found necessary in any other department o f the substan­
tive law, and the statement seems warranted that, certainly within
the domain of the law regulating civil rights and obligations, no
radical changes are needed. The huge majority of our citizens do
not become involved with the criminal law. Throughout their lives
it is the civil law on which they must rely for the protection of their
rights and the enforcement of their claims. The title to a man’s
home, the rights and obligations under a lease, the power to with­
draw money deposited in a savings bank, the collection of wages,
claims for industrial accidents, the enforcement of insurance con­
tracts, divorce and judicial separation, the custody of children, the
right to have property pass on a man’s death to his heirs or accord­
ing to his will—all these are matters governed by the civil, as dis­
tinguished from the criminal, law.
To make these laws actively effective the State quite naturally and
properly relies on the self-interest and initiative of the individual.
The theory is that when he is wronged or aggrieved he will promptly
bring the matter to the attention of the proper court; thus the State
has notice, and it will compel the defendant to appear before the
same court and stand trial. This is sound theory, but it is precisely
at this point that the whole plan may break down completely.
What if a citizen for any reason can not bring his wrong to the
attention of the courts? Then the State knows nothing about it,
the law is utterly inactive, and the defendant is immune from a



legal judgment against him. Unless the law can be enforced through
the courts it fails to work and is of no help whatsoever. That is
why the machinery of justice is of such vital concern. The ma­
chinery of justice, designed to be only the servant of the law to
insure swift compliance with its orders, is in a sense the master of
the law because whenever it fails to operate it can and does prevent
the law from ever reaching the suitor who needs its aid and protec­
The machinery of justice is necessarily extensive and it can not
be stated in detail here. Its essentials, however, are these: It pre­
scribes the form of action that can be brought in any given case,
the court in which the case must be heard, and the time when cases
may be entered. It regulates the court fees and costs for the entry
of the case and for subsequent proceedings. It fixes the form and
manner of service of legal process on the defendant, and specifies
when and how he must answer. It controls every successive stage
of the case until it comes before the court for trial. At the trial it
regulates the order of procedure, it lays down rules o f evidence,
and the way in which points may be reserved for an appeal. After
judgment has been rendered it prescribes minutely how the sheriff
may collect the judgment out of the defendant’s property and it
provides various kinds of supplementary proceedings designed to
enforce the judgment or order of the court.
It is the machinery of justice that gives life to the law. It is
the administration of justice that makes the laws aqtively effective.
It results that if the laws are to afford their equal protection to all
persons in a modern community the machinery of justice must be
readily accessible to all, must be easily workable by all, and must
be swift in its operation.
Our present difficulty arises because we have not yet refitted our
whole system to meet the new demands of our urban populations.
Entirely too many citizens find in actual experience that access to
the courts is difficult, that the procedural machinery is complicated
beyond any hope of their understanding and utilizing it, and that
the legal system moves so slowly in their behalf that no prompt
and summary relief can be obtained. Our immigrant population,
burdened by the added handicap of unfamiliarity with our lan­
guage, fares even worse. This particular aspect of our problem
need not be elaborated here, because it has already been fully pre­
sented by Miss Kate Claghorn in her book, “ The Immigrant’s Day
in Court.”
We can now specify the three factors which impede the even
course of justice when its protection is sought by a wage earner or
by any person of small means. The first factor is delay. In the
words of the chairman of the judiciary section of the Commonwealth
Club of California, whose special report on this subject has already
been quoted, “ There is too great delay; there are too heavy costs—
court costs and witness fees. The expenses of counsel and the waste
of time are too great.” Similarly, the late President Woodrow
Wilson stated: “ The speediness of justice, the inexpensiveness of
justice, the ready access of justice is the greater part of justice itself.”
The second factor is the expense involved in the payment of court
costs and fees. The third factor is the necessity of employing law­




yers in most cases if the suitor is to have any chance whatsoever to
succeed. These are the three contributing causes of our present
problem. The next step is to analyze them in detail so that we may
understand their exact nature and thus find out how far and in what
ways their disturbing effect on the administration of justice may be
eliminated or overcome.
In all discussions of legal reform the evil o f delay is emphasized.
It has become an axiom that justice delayed is justice denied, and *
Judge Clayton, of the United States District Court for Alabama,
well says “ this is more than a mouth-filling phrase; manifestly it is a
Public attention has been focused on this factor in our problem,
and excellent studies into its nature, extent, and results have been
made. Hugh E. Willis, in the California Law Review for July,
1920, writes, “ The average length of a lawsuit in the United States
has been appalling.” The Ohio Industrial Commission has ana­
lyzed 58 reoent suits for damages for personal injuries and its
report quoted in the Monthly Labor Review of the United States
Bureau of Labor Statistics "for December, 1923, shows that the
average delay in these cases was two years and five months.
A special committee of the Illinois Bar Association, by a report
dated November 25,1919, states that in Chicago “ the average life of
a contested lawsuit—that is, one contested through to the very end—
is now and for the past 20 years has been from 5 to 7 years.” In a
communication to the New York Times, printed December 16, 1922,
it appears that in 1921 the supreme court o f New York County
alone had 21,308 cases awaiting trial. During 1921, 13,223 new
cases were added. The judges by straining every resource man­
aged to dispose of 8,938 cases in 1921, but even so they had fallen
behind, and in 1922, 25,593 cases were awaiting trial with little
prospect of being reached for more than two years.
Delay begets delay. Like compounding interest it is cumulative
and the evil, once in existence, tends to aggravate itself. That the
effect of delay in the cases of wage earners is to rob them of any
real relief is obvious. Mr. E. H. Downey, of the Pennsylvania
Insurance Department, in his report on the Ohio State workmen’s
insurance fund (printed in Monthly Labor Review, October, 1919,
pp. 248-264), is dealing especially with compensation cases, but his
words apply equally well to delays in all types of litigation; “ Few
workmen have such surplus of income that they can afford to wait
weeks or months for the commencement of compensation. When
the weekly pay check stops destitution is never far away.”
The tragic result is that persons of small means, knowing that
they can not afford the delay, simply do not bring their cases to
the courts at all. They have to accept the injustice done them and
suffer in silence. This is peculiarly true of that part of the wage­
earning class that is recruited by immigration. The bulletin of the
Foreign Language Information Service for August, 1922, makes the
matter clear.



Even the most casual observer of immigrant experiences must frequently
have noted the victimizing of the newcomers by unscrupulous promoters, land
agents, loan sharks, money changers, and notaries. It is difficult and often
impossible to obtain legal redress in these cases: First, because of the immi­
grant’s helplessness in knowing what to do or to whom to go, and second,
because the process o f the law is so slow and involves so much time and
effort that the victim usually drops the matter in despair.

Much can be done, much has already been done, to eliminate the
factor of delay. Judge Morton, of the United States District Court
for Massachusetts, has estimated “ that 50 per cent of the law’s delay
is caused by appellate proceedings.” Certainly that is true in all
States where every small case can be appealed and thug be tried twice
as a matter of right. The system of having a case tried before an
inferior or justice’s court and then permitting either side to appeal
to a higher court, in which the case is tried all over again, has long
been a curse in American court organization and is a prolific source
of delay. Double trials on the facts were abolished throughout
Massachusetts for the reason stated by the Massachusetts Judicature
Commission in its 1921 report. “ Trying small cases twice, maintain­
ing courts for the conduct of ineffective trials, is merely consuming
the time and money of parties and witnesses, many o f whom can ill
afford the loss and delay involved in two trials.”
• f the decision o f the lower court is to be final, then the character
of that court must command public respect. The modern type of
municipal court—for example, those now established in Boston,
Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia—marks a
tremendous advance over anything that preceded it. It is the con­
sensus of opinion that delays in the higher courts can best be lessened
by a centralized or unified form of court organization and by vesting
in the courts the power to control their own machinery through their
own rules. Later chapters will point out special methods that can be
used to reduce to a minimum the delay in certain classes of cases of
especial importance to wage earners. Here we are concerned chiefly
with explaining delay as a factor in our problem and with pointing
out its baneful effects.
Because the factor of delay is in the foreground of public dis­
cussion there is good reason to hope that reforms aimed to rid the
machinery of justice of undue delay will make steady progress.
This emphasis on delay has tended to distract general attention from
any thorough consideration of court costs and of the necessity for
employing counsel. Certainly these two factors cause as much
trouble as delays, and from the point o f view of the wage earner
they constitute even greater obstacles in his search for legal justice.
It is fitting, therefore, that this bulletin should deal with them
thoroughly so that public opinion may be brought to a clearer reali­
zation of their serious importance.
From the earliest times the payment of money in the form of
court costs and fees has been a condition precedent to the right to
bring a case into court. And throughout the history of EnglishAmerican law these costs and fees when applied to the cases of poor
persons have constituted a formidable legalized obstacle in the path




of justice. Too often they have proved insurmountable and the
unfortunate suitor has found his access to the courts as completely
and irrevocably barred as though the doors of the courthouse itself
had been locked against him. Yet not until 1923 was any thorough
and scholarly study of the subject made. In February or that year
the Harvard Law Review published Prof. John M. Maguire’s notable
article entitled “ Poverty and civil litigation,” which has since
been reprinted in various American and English periodicals and
is now accepted as the standard exposition of this second factor in
our problem. The history of court costs and fees and of the many
unsuccessful attempts to eliminate or circumscribe them in so far as
they were directly causing denials of justice is there related, and the
reader who desires the story in greater detail than the space of this
bulletin permits is referred to that treatise.
There are two classic cases illustrating the fate of the man who
can not pay the imposts fixed by the State as the price of justice.
Early in the nineteenth century England was shocked out of its
indifference to the problem of costs by the case of a laboring man
named Hall whose wife, Mary Ann, robbed him and then left him, to
live with another man. Hall could not pay the fees required to
obtain a divorce. He lived with another woman as his wife and
was thereupon convicted of bigamy. He came before Justice Maule
for sentence and the following remarkable colloquy took place.
Hall remarked that he had teen hardly used. “ No doubt,” replied
the judge, “but such is the law. The law in fact is the same to you as
it is to the rich man; it is the same to the low and poor as it is to the
mighty and rich, and through it alone can you obtain effectual relief,
and what the rich man would have done you should have done.”
“ But I had no money, my lord,” exclaimed Hall.
“ Hold your tongue,” rejoined the judge. “ Yes, Hall, you should
have brought an action and obtained damages, which the other side
probably would not have been able to pay, in which case you would
have had to pay your own costs, perhaps a hundred and fifty pounds.
But even then you must not have married again. You should have
gone to the ecclesiastical court and then to the House of Lords. It
is very true, Hall, you might say, 6Where is all the money to come
from to pay for all this? ’ And certainly that was a serious question,
as the expenses might amount to five or six hundred pounds while
you had not as many pence.”
“As I hope to be saved, I have not a penny, I am only a poor
man/’ said Hall and then he received his sentence of three months.
We may then turn to page 174 of the eleventh volume of the
Encyclopedia of Law and Procedure and read that under the
statutes of certain States if a plaintiff is apparently too poor to be
able to pay any costs that may be assessed against him he may be
required to furnish security for costs. If, being poor, he can not
furnish security, what then? Such was the position of one Camp­
bell and his case was accordingly dismissed. He appealed and
learned from the decision, which is reported in volume 23 of the
Wisconsin Reports at page 490, that “ We have no statute which
permits a person to sue in forma pauperis. It seems almost like a
hardship that a poor person should not be allowed to litigate. But
this is a matter for the legislature to regulate and not the justice.”




Why American legislatures have paid so little attention to court
costs it. is difficult to understand unless the answer be that the mat­
ter has never been adequately presented to them. Certainly our
record is as bad as that of any civilized nation in the world. The
countries of Europe and Scotland have for many years had a defi­
nite procedure whereby poor persons could bring their claims into
court. England, Japan, and now Poland have made similar pro­
vision. Professor Maguire finds that over one-third of our States
give no relief at all of this sort to poor litigants and that in the
remaining States the provisions are only partially adequate. He
concludes: “ It is hard to discern in any of our existing laws even
the foundations of a comprehensive and effective plan for bringing
justice within the reach of all. We should lose little and gain much
if we stripped away most of our fragmentary in forma pauperis
Our failure to grasp and to deal adequately with this problem
has undoubtedly caused innumerable cases of hardship and too
many cases of downright injustice. Judge Clayton, of the United
States District Court for Alabama, states in the Journal of the
American Bar Association for January, 1922:
One of the complaints against the administration of justice is the expense
that the State levies in the form of court costs and fees, which often serve
to prevent access to the court. Especially is this true in the justice court,
courts of common pleas, and the like, in some of the States. In many of
these courts, courts with which the poorer class of our citizens come in con­
tact, the costs in some cases are so excessive as to practically amount to a
denial of justice.

President Judge Brown, of the Philadelphia municipal court, in
an address delivered on November 2, 1919, said: “ The cost bill in
the municipal court is approximately $12 exclusive of the sheriff’s
costs. The litigant can save $4 if he elects a trial without a jury.
It does not need any argument to show that a litigant should not
be obliged to pay from $8 to $12 for costs on a suit where the
amount involved is $50 or less.” Prof. Thomas A. Larrimore, in
the June, 1921, number of the Oregon Law Review, gives this as
the result of his observations: “ As to court costs, the statutes and
decisions requiring prepayment of filing fees as conditions prece­
dent to entry into court are vicious and give the poor man in Port­
land just cause for complaint.”
It is impossible to present any statement of our present system of
court costs, because there is no system. They vary from State to
State; within a State they are utterly different in different courts,
and in the same court the fees in an equity case are not the same as
in a law case. No legal student, so far as we know, has ever at­
tempted to explain the present American hodgepodge of costs and
fees. Probably it would be a profitless task because such an ex­
position would only prove that utter chaos prevails and that we
already know. Judge Andrew A. Bruce’s book entitled “ The
American Judge,” contains an illuminating chapter on “ The cost of
litigation.” The views expressed in this chapter find support in his
conclusion that “ These excessive costs and these unnecessary delays
close our courts to the average citizen. The best antidote for
anarchism is to implant in the minds of all the belief that at the




great bar of the law all are equally favored and that poverty in
America does not stand in the way o f complete justice.”
Poverty to-day does stand in the way of complete justice and it
will continue to do so until public opinion forces a radical over­
hauling of our archaic system of court costs and fees. However
great the muddle we are in, the way out is reasonably clear.
First of all we would do well to abolish those costs which, are
purely fictitious, which are imposed by the State but bear no real
relation to any service rendered by the State, and which when col­
lected do not even go to the State but belong to the party that pre­
vailed in the litigation. The clerk of the Boston municipal court
recently appealed to the Massachusetts Legislature to eliminate all
such fictitious costs and cited actual cases from his records. In one
case the judgment was for $41.42, the costs amounted to $47.54, of
which all but $2.15 were fictitious; in another, judgment was for
$55.04, the costs were $31.60, and of this sum $20.45 represented
fictitious costs.
Costs can be substantially reduced. The modern municipal courts
have succeeded in reducing fees very substantially. Instead of
serving process by constables or by sheriffs at a cost of $1 to $5 the
defendant can be summoned by United States mail, a method that
has been successfully employed by the Cleveland municipal court
for nearly 10 years.
The State is perfectly justified in asking litigants to contribute
something toward the expense of the administration of justice. No
one, however, has contended that the full burden of maintaining
the courts should be thrust on the litigants. The State exists pri­
marily to establish justice among its citizens. How low a tariff
it should impose is essentially a matter of public policy and not a
matter of revenue. Even if costs were substantially lowered, there
would still be many cases of persons too poor to pay them, and
there would be clear instances where no fees at all ought to be paid.
A deserted wife turns to the State for legal relief against her hus­
band generally with great reluctance and only when her funds are
entirely exhausted, and it is morally wrong and socially unwise to
present her first ox all with a bill of costs. After the World War
every effort was made to return the personal effects of soldiers who
had been killed to relatives or to other persons in accordance with
the soldier’s expressed wish. In a report dealing with the carrying
out of this humane plan this sentence occurs, “ It frequently hap­
pens that it is advisable to recommend application for letters of
administration; but this can be made only in jurisdictions free from
vexatious delays, where the fees are little or nothing; in some States
the laws are inflexible and the fees prohibitive.”
As a last resort there is only one method that can guarantee to
every man, irrespective of his poverty, his day in court, and that
is by the enactment in every State of a comprehensive in forma
pauperis procedure. By this is meant a law, applicable to every
case in every court, under which the court may in suitable instances
and for cause shown permit a man to file his case and have his trial
without any requirement for the prepayment of any costs.
While the general scope and purpose of such a proceeding is
perfectly clear, the experience in England ever since 1495 proves




that any attempt to extend this relief will come to grief unless the
statute is drawn with infinite pains. The most careful effort thus
far made in America is contained in the model in forma pauperis
act drawn by the committee on legal aid work of the American
Bar Association in 1924. Wide discussion of this draft statute is
so important that the text of the proposed statute is reprinted in
this bulletin as Appendix A. As the draft statute is accompanied
by explanatory notes it is unnecessary for us here to dwell on its
provisions in detail.
The factor of court costs can undoubtedly be overcome through
a proper in forma pauperis proceeding. The New York in forma
pauperis statute, although it does not apply to all cases, was in 1920
invoked in 4,665 cases in the municipal courts of New York City.
To enable any in forma pauperis proceeding to accomplish fully
its avowed purpose three difficulties must be overcome. In the
first place, this special grant of assistance by the State is designed
only for the benefit of honest persons with honest claims. It must
not become the tool of unscrupulous persons with claims that are
dubious or worse. Some preliminary sifting must be done, the
fact of poverty must be proved, and the applicant must demon­
strate that his suit is reasonable enough to take up the time of a
court. To throw the burden of this preliminary investigation onto
the already overburdened courts would be disastrous. Some auxil­
iary administrative method must be utilized, and for that the abovementioned draft statute provides.
In the second place, there are certain expenses attendant on litiga­
tion which can not be eliminated. So long as legal process is served
by sheriffs who depend for their livelihood on their fees, those fees
must be paid by the litigants or else the State must assume the
burden, as has been done in some jurisdictions, by placing the sheriff
on a definite salaried basis. The witness who is summoned to court to
testify loses his day’s work and it is only right that he should be
recompensed. No progress is made by helping a poor litigant at the
expense of a witness who may be equally poor or poorer. The ste­
nographer who takes the record of the testimony (which is essential
if an appeal is in contemplation) works hard, earns what he is paid,
and can not be expected to labor for nothing. In Louisiana the State
may provide free stenography; elsewhere, we believe, the litigants
must themselves pay the cost. The position of the printer who
prints the record for the appeal is the same as that of the ste­
nographer. It is clear that the man of limited means must either
try his case as best he can without incurring any of these expenses
or else the State must, directly or indirectly, pay the bills for him.
In the past this idea has met a cold reception because it seemed an
open invitation to raid the public treasury. A proper in forma
pauperis procedure would make that impossible, because State aid,
as provided in section 14 of the draft statute, could be had only in
approved cases and under suitable restrictions. In only a few cases,
chiefly test cases, would stenographic and printing bills be incurred.
Once it can be made clear that the actual expense to the State would
be small, progress may become possible. The average annual cost of
our State administration of justice is less than 18 cents for each in­
habitant. State aid as above outlined would not increase this cost
by the hundredth part of a cent.




When we remember that the fundamental purpose for which the
administration of justice exists is to guarantee the equal protection
of the laws to all persons, not merely those men who can pay the
price but all persons, it would seem worth while for the State to
incur a moderate expense in order to achieve its own ideal. The
Chief Justice of the United States dealt with this problem as it
exists in the Federal courts when he spoke at the rededication of the
original United States Supreme Court Building in Philadelphia on
May.2,1922, in these words: “ Much remains to be done in cheapen­
ing litigation in the Federal courts by reducing costs or transferring
them to the public treasury.”
The third and last requirement for the successful operation of
any adequate in forma pauperis proceeding is that somehow pro­
vision must be made so that whenever necessary the impecunious
litigant may secure the services of an attorney to advise him and to
conduct his case. Indeed, without such provision, everything else
is in vain. To enable a man to get into court and then to expect
him to conduct his own case without help and without representa­
tion would be no more sensible than to put a boy in the cab of a
locomotive of the Twentieth Century Limited and to expect him
to drive the train safely to its destination. And the reason is the
same. The law is necessarily a complex piece of mechanism and it
can be operated only by those specially trained persons who devote
their lives to an understanding of it. How to include the services
of lawyers as a part of in forma pauperis procedure is only one
aspect of the larger problem of how to secure the services of lawyers
for poor persons generally. This is the subject of the next chapter
and the attempt to answer our immediate question must be deferred
until we have examined the problem as a whole and have obtained
a clearer realization of the part that lawyers take in the actual ad­
ministration of justice.
We have thus far seen that the wage earner has difficulty in ob­
taining the equal protection of the laws, not because of any partial­
ity in the laws themselves or in the courts that enforce the laws,
but because of serious flaws in the machinery of justice. We have
seen that our failure to readapt our administration of justice rapidly
enough to the changed and novel conditions of our modern, urban,
industrial life has resulted in a breakdown that is specifically at­
tributable to three factors, of which the first two—delays and court
costs and fees incidental to litigation—have been considered.
The third factor—the necessity for the employment of an at­
torney whenever a litigant wishes to understand what his rights
are and how to enforce them through appropriate legal proceed­
ings—is quite commonly overlooked altogether or when not over­
looked it is generally misunderstood. No progress can be made
until the strategic position of the lawyer in the administration of
justice is clearly perceived and no worth-while reform can be
planned that does not take this factor into full account. Indeed
those legal scholars who have devoted their attention to the general
problem of improving the position of persons of limited means be­



fore the law are of the opinion that the necessity for securing to
such persons the services of competent attorneys is the most impor­
tant and the most difficult part o f our task.
Thus Professor Larrimore, whose survey of conditions in Port­
land, published in the June, 1921, Oregon Law Eeview, we have al­
ready quoted from, says: “ It seemed that cost of counsel forms in
Portland the principal obstacle in the path of the impecunious liti­
gant seeking justice, notwithstanding certain ameliorative measures
already taken in certain special fields.”
Procedural reform may speed up the judicial machinery and thus
eliminate delays; court costs can easily be abolished in part, reduced
in part, and prevented from working injustice by the provision of an
adequate in forma pauperis procedure. Though all this is accom­
plished the wage earner, in common with every other citizen, will
need the assistance of an attorney in most of the legal matters that
arise in the course of his life.
When it is said that the expense of engaging lawyers places a
serious handicap on the less well-to-do members of the community
the unthinking reply is apt to be, “ then let’s abolish the lawyers.”
This has been attempted at various times in the world’s history and
it has always failed. It was attempted in our own colonial era and
the experiment was disastrous. After the revolution in Russia a
determined effort was made to destroy the bar as a privileged class
but it instantly appeared that the legal business of the country could
not be operated without attorneys. The abolition of lawyers would
paralyze our administration of justice as completely as the abolition
of all judges, for as Mr. Justice Miller, of the Supreme Court of the
United States, wrote in the case of Ex parte Garland:
I t is believed th at no civilized nation o f modern tim es h as been w ithout a
class o f m en in tim ately connected w ith the court, and w ith the adm inistration
o f ju stice, called attorneys, counsellors, and other term s o f sim ilar im port.
T h ey are a s essential to the successful w orkings o f the court as the clerks,
sheriffs, and m arshals, and perhaps a s the ju d ges them selves, since no instance
is known o f a court o f la w w ithout a bar.

The reason for this is simple enough. It is like attempting to
abolish doctors, engineers, and architects. The erection of a modern
building i.s a complicated matter; its planning calls for a high degree
of special skill and the few men who have mastered that skill we
call architects. To construct railroads or to build subways presents
complicated technical engineering problems that the average man
would be utterly unable to solve, and civilization requires the serv­
ices of mechanical and civil engineers. Human life daily becomes
more intricate; day by day every man finds himself involved in closer
relationships with, and more dependent upon, the fellow members
of his community. The law which seeks to regulate this life and its
manifold relationships steadily becomes greater in its scope and
more complicated in its provisions.
No one knows how many laws and decisions of courts there are
in the United States to-day. The Library of Congress has reported
that from 1915 to 1920, 62,014 new statutes were passed and 65,379
decisions were rendered by courts of last resort. The published de­
cisions of the State courts for the year 1914 total over 18,000. The
difficulty of understanding the law, even for lawyers and judges, has
now become so great that two years ago eminent leaders of the pro­




fession formed the American Law Institute for the sole purpose of
restating and simplifying our law.
The intricacy of modern law is made dramatic by the case of
Garcia, administrator, v . Western Fuel Co., which was finally de­
cided by the Supreme Court of the United States. (Yol. 42, Supreme
Court Reporter, p. 89; Monthly Labor Review, February, 1922, pp.
131-133.) On August 5, 1916, Manuel Souza, a stevedore, was
instantly killed while working in the hold of a vessel anchored in
San Francisco Bay for unloading. On April 25, 1917, a claim was
made for workmen’s compensation and the California Industrial
Accident Commission made an award in favor of the widow and
children. On May 2, 1917, in the case of one Jensen, the Supreme
Court of the United States decided that stevedores while on vessels
were not protected by a State workmen’s compensation act. There­
fore Souza’s employer appealed from the award of the California
Industrial Accident Commission to the California Supreme Court,
which annulled the award on August 6, 1917, exactly one year and
one day after Souza’s death.
In August, 1917, the widow brought a suit in admiralty in accord­
ance with the Jensen decision. The law required the suit to be
brought by an administrator, so Antone Garcia was appointed. He
prosecuted the case; the court found that Souza’s death was caused
by the negligence of the hatch tender and $10,000 damages was
awarded. In February, 1919, the Circuit Court oi Appeals affirmed
the decision, but in October, 1919, on reargument, it reversed the
decision on the ground that the hatch tender was a fellow servant
of Souza for whose negligence the employer was not responsible.
The case then went to the Supreme Court of the United States,
which upheld the decision of the trial court in principle but found
that under California law this case had to be brought within one
year from the date of death, and therefore dismissed the case. I f
this case, in which the widow was ably represented by counsel who
fought in her behalf through to the highest court in the land, ended
in tragedy because of the virtual impossibility of selecting the right
legal course of action to follow, what chance to obtain justice in any
matter presenting any complications can there be for those who are
unable to procure the services of any counsel to plead in their behalf?
Lawyers devote their lives to the study and practice of law. For
their living they must depend on the fees paid by clients. No ques­
tion of whether charges for legal services are high or low need
detain us, because even when they are reduced to the lowest point
which will enable the lawyer to support himself and his family there
will remain a multitude of our fellow citizens who can not pay those
Nothing would be gained by any attempt to fix with mathematical
certainty the number of persons who may be debarred from justice
because of their inability to retain counsel, but a rough approxima­
tion does help us to realize the magnitude of the factor with which
we are now dealing. The best general figures are- in the study of
“ Income in the United States ” made by the Bureau of Economic
Research and based primarily on an analysis of the income tax
figures for the year 1918. The population of the United States,
exclusive of its outlying possessions, was over 105,000,000 according



to the 1920 census. This population consists of men, women, and
children many of whom obviously are not engaged in work and
have no income whatsoever. The Bureau of Economic Research
estimates that the number of persons who had any income from
wages, salaries, business profits, dividends, or any source whatso­
ever was in 1918 about 37,500,000. Of these, 54 per cent, or approxi­
mately 20,250,000 persons, had incomes of less than $1,200 per
It is not unreasonable to conclude that after they have paid for
the bare necessities of life these 20,000,000 earners, together with
an equal number of women and children dependent on them who
also may need the protection of the laws, have no surplus with
which to pay lawyers5 fees. Royal Meeker, former United States
Commissioner of Labor Statistics, estimated that the average family
would require $1,200 to support itself in Washington in 1916 and
would need $1,800 in 1918. The New York City Health Department
gathered data as to 2,084 families, which were not specially selected
but were mainly families visited in connection with the official
supervision of illnesses such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, and scarlet
fever. From the report published in the New York Times for
July 27, 1919, it appears that 72 per cent, or 1,500, of these families
had annual incomes of less than $1,200. Three hundred and seventyfour families had been forced into debt, in 244 the housewives or
the children had gone to work, and 191 families had been obliged
to seek charity. In many of these homes meat, eggs, butter, and
bottled milk had been given up. Under such circumstances it is
clear that no money is available for the payment of lawyers5 serv­
ices. E. H. Downey, in his book, “ Workmen’s Compensation,5 after
marshaling an imposing array of facts as to average wages, says:
“ It needs no argument to show that families in receipt of incomes
such as these can have neither property, savings, nor insurance of
substantial amount. The ugly fact is that American wage workers,
with few exceptions, are always near the poverty line.5
Yet these millions of persons, and especially the larger proportion
of them who live in cities, may at any moment and through no fault
of their own find that they need legal advice or legal assistance
in the enforcement or defense of their personal and property rights
guaranteed them by the law of the land. This is the great dilemma;
this is the core of our problem. The remainder of this bulletin is
devoted to its solution, showing that in certain kinds of cases it may
be partially solved through new types of courts or administrative
tribunals, but that in most instances a permanent solution can be
had only by facing the issue squarely and by supporting those new
agencies which have come into being for the avowed purpose of
supplying the services of lawyers to all persons who need legal aid
and are unable to pay for it. But before taking up a considera­
tion of these new plans that seem so full of promise if they can
be wisely developed, let us pause long enough to see what the ad­
ministration of justice itself has done, or attempted to do, in this
Poverty is perennial, and impecunious suitors have on occasion
besought aid from the courts throughout our legal history. In one
of the earliest English law books we find a petition filed before
the justice in Eyre by William, son of Hugh of Smethumilne, which




concludes: “And I pray you for your soul’s sake that you will give
me remedy of this, for I am so poor that I can pay for no lawyer.”
On May 2,1922, a widow, Ann Dolan, filed an affidavit in the United
States Court for the District of Massachusetts which read, in part,
“ I possess no property, real or personal, nor have I money. I am,
therefore, unable to pay costs of a suit against the United States in
the equity court for damages. My husband was a soldier in the War
of the Rebellion. I petition the court to assign counsel and to pro­
vide for the prosecution of the suit.”
Courts have recognized the seriousness of the point involved. In
an Iowa decision we find “ So limited and restricted is the sphere
of action prescribed for the judge as to proceedings on trial touching
matters of fact that without the aid of able and experienced counsel
the poor and ignorant man would often find accusation and prose­
cution tantamount to conviction.” The Supreme Court of Wisconsin
has summed up the very issue that confronts us in this chapter by
asking: “ Would it not be a little like mockery to secure to a pauper
these solemn constitutional guaranties for a fair and full trial, and
yet say to him when on trial that he must employ his own counsel,
who could alone render these guaranties of any real permanent
value to him? ” And the court answers the question by stating: “ It
would be a reproach upon the administration of justice if a person
thus upon trial could not have the assistance of legal counsel because
he was too poor to secure it.”
The only method evolved by our administration of justice for
meeting this difficulty has been the system of assigning counsel.
The theory is that a lawyer is an officer of the court and is bound
by his professional oath to render gratuitous service to poor persons.
This same conception may be found in the legal systems of nearly
all civilized countries. In practice it has never worked satisfacto­
rily. Mr. Hughes, ex-Secretary of State, in an address before the
American Bar Association in 1920, stated:'“ In our great cities the
time-honored practice of assigning counsel is not in good repute.”
In “ The American Judge,” Judge Bruce, in dealing with this point
as it affects the poor man, writes: “ Often an attorney is appointed
by the court to defend him, and this person is usually a boy or one
equally inexperienced; even if he be a well-trained lawyer, since he
gets practically no compensation and takes the case merely as a matter
of duty, he often gives to it but little attention.”
The practice as to assigning counsel differs sharply as between
criminal and civil cases. Assignments in criminal cases relate so
closely to the discussion of the public defender that in Chapter X I,
describing the defender in criminal cases, will be found further
detail; here we are concerned only with the general and broad out­
lines of the assignment system, fn criminal cases the statutes in 18
States require assigned counsel to serve without any pay. In 30
States the compensation is generally so small as to be nominal.
Some of these States allow a reasonable fee in murder or capital
cases, but make no provision in cases where a lesser crime is charged.
Thomas S. Mosby, who compiled these figures in the American Bar
Association Journal for July, 1924, concludes: “ The system pre­
vailing in a majority of the States, as will be noted from the fore­
going summary, works a great hardship upon lawyers; and in many



instances it must necessarily work an even greater hardship upon
the indigent defendant.”
In civil cases statutes authorizing the assignment of counsel exist
in only 12 States. None of these statutes provides any compensation
to the lawyer. Judge Levy, of the New York municipal court, in
speaking of the statute authorizing the court to assign counsel with­
out compensation, stated to the New York State Bar Association in
1920: “ The power of the court has frequently been invoked in that
direction.” How frequently, we do not know, but subject to this
exception, the general rule throughout the United States is not to
assign counsel in civil cases at all. As civil cases constitute the bulk
of the cases in which wage earners, as well as other litigants, are
interested, the statement is warranted that the assignment system
has failed.
It has failed because it is based on an economic fallacy. We may
be reasonably confident that this is the true reason because the same
economic considerations in various countries have produced precisely
the same breakdown in the assignment-of-counsel plan. As good a
statement as can be found is contained in a paper presented at the
International Conference on Legal Aid Work, held at Geneva in
1924, by Mr. Silvio Longhi, first president of the Court of Appeal,
who in commenting on the assignment system in Italy, where it has
existed since before America was discovered, said:
T h e duty o f gratu itou s assistance is not accepted w ith enthusiasm by law yers
o f the w idest experience and reputation, who are fo r this reason engaged in
other m ore rem unerative ta s k s ; and when the duty is accepted it is now and
then neglected.' T h u s poor persons’ suits are necessarily alm ost alw a ys put
in the hands o f attorneys w ith sm all practices and o f those ju st beginning to
practice, who in their turn are not in a position to devote them selves to cases
without profit. F in ally, there is no doubt th at the system o f free defense does
not give a ll the results th at a paid defense could give, and so a poor person
is given tardy and second-rate help. T h is is due to the fa ct th at the system is
based on a fa lse theory, on the economic m istake in supposing th at fre e help
can be given w ith a s-m u c h efficiency as paid help. H ow ever high the b ar’s
standard m ay be— and it is very high— it has not m oral strength to struggle
for any length o f tim e against the law o f recompense fo r hum an a c t iv it y ; and
if, taken a ll together, the system o f free help does not m easure up to those
social exigencies to which one would w ish to apply it, this is not to be laid to
the attorneys but exclusively to the iUusion o f the legislator who believes he
can solve a serious problem w ith fine w o r d s : A s by announcing th at this free
help is an “ honorable activity ” o f the legal profession.

The most recent attempt to solve the problem of the expense of
lawyers’ services by invoking the system of assigning counsel with­
out, pay is to be found in England, where under the Poor Persons
Rules of 1914 the supreme court can assign any solicitor and any
barrister to act for a poor person in any approved civil case within
the jurisdiction of the court. Prof. Maguire, in connection with
his article on “ Poverty and civil litigation,” studied the English
system in 1923 and found “ The great problem in England has
been to secure the necessary lawyers’ services.” Appeals tor volun­
teers have frequently appeared in English legal periodicals. Many
solicitors and barristers have served at great personal sacrifice, but
thousands < cases, each involving hard work and serious respon­
sibility, can not be handled on the basis of charity. To relieve the
poor of their burden by thrusting it entirely on the bar never has
worked and there is no reason to expect that it ever will work




That the English experiment has proved unsound appears in a
aper entitled the “ Poor and the Law 5 read to the English Law
ociety in October, 1923, by Mr. P. H. Edwards, a London solici­
tor, wno starts with the generally accepted fact of “ the breakdown
of the present method of dealing with poor persons’ cases.”
The assignment plan has been an altogether inadequate solution,
but it should not be abandoned. Potentially it has great usefulness
and if reasonable compensation were allowed to assigned attorneys
the inherent weakness of the plan as it now exists would be re­
moved. In Norway, Denmark, and Sweden assigned counsel are
paid a reasonable fee fixed by the court. By a 1917 act Illinois
has provided that attorneys assigned to defend indigent married
women in divorce cases shall be paid. The Pennsylvania Commis­
sion on Constitutional Amendment, in its report dated December
15, 1920, recommended that the courts be given power to assign
counsel in any suitable case, such counsel to receive compensation
out of the county treasury.
Any thorough plan for adapting the machinery of justice to
modern conditions should include some provision for assignment
of counsel so that the courts would have power to act to prevent
injustice as occasion might arise. The wise exercise of the power
would probably serve as a complete solution of the difficulty in
smaller communities and in the sparsely settled districts. For the
great urban communities, where the need is far more extensive,
it could serve as a last resource but in actual practice it would need
to be invoked only rarely for our American experience indicates
another more efficient, more economical means whereby the desired
result can be accomplished.


The social and economic forces that have so radically altered the
conditions of life in America and that, as we Have seen in preced­
ing chapters, caused a breakdown of serious proportions in our ad­
ministration of justice first made themselves felt in the last quarter
of the nineteenth century. A generation passed before the Ameri­
can people were made aware of what had happened in their most
vital domestic institution. During that time the wage earners and
the humbler classes generally had to exist without ample protection
from the law. I f their wages were unpaid, their only redress lay
in civil litigation, which was protracted and expensive beyond their
means. I f they were injured, their only recourse was a suit* for
personal injuries, their path was strewn with technical traps such
as the fellow-servant rule and the doctrine of assumption of risk,
a lawyer had to be secured on a contingent fee basis, and the best
that could be expected would be a verdict after the lapse of two
or three years. Because of their legally defenseless position they
were preyed on and defrauded by a host of petty swindlers. The
exploitation that immigrants endured has been written into the
records of. Federal and State investigations. When pressed by the
expense of illness, death, or other calamity, money could be bor­
rowed only from the loan shark at ruinous rates of interest. Work­
men were induced, often by false representations, to assign their
future wages, many employers made it a rule to discharge any one



who made such an assignment, and thus the workman found him­
self at the mercy of an assignee who had power over both his liveli­
hood and his job. The law in its actual application to his life was
apt to impress the wage earner as an enemy and oppressor and not
as a friend and protector.
The first definite pronouncement of the difficulties within the field
of justice came in 1906 when Roscoe Pound addressed the American
Bar Association on “ The causes of popular dissatisfaction with the
administration of justice.” Slowly, gradually, but in increasing
measure the American people were aroused. Legislative commit­
tees, constitutional conventions, and bar associations became active.
During the past 15 years we have been busily devising ways and
means for reforming the law and reorganizing the machinery of
justice so that the needs of the community might be better served.
We have by no means accomplished all that must sooner or later be
accomplished, perhaps the greater part of the road yet remains to be
traveled, but we have at last come to a realization of our problem
and of the factors that have produced it. No quick final solution was
possible, the matter was too complicated to be settled by any easy
formula or panacea, experiments had to be made, but the record of
events since 1910 proves that an earnest and a brave beginning has
been made.
The first workmen’s compensation act was passed in 1911. The
Massachusetts law requiring the weekly payment of wages was made
the most effective statute of its kind when in 1912 its enforcement
was intrusted to the State labor commissioner. The first experiments
with small claims courts and conciliation were inaugurated in Cleve­
land and in Kansas City, Kans., in 1913. In the same year the first
public defender in the United States was established under the new
charter of Los Angeles County. Prior to 1910 there were fewer than
10 legal aid organizations in the whole country; in 1910 the first
municipal legal aid bureau was created in Kansas City, Mo., and
since that time the growth of legal aid offices, both public and pri­
vate, has proceeded apace.
The remaining chapters in this article trace the rise and growth
of these new agencies, state the results they have already obtained,
and attempt to appraise them as far as our present experience
enables us to form conclusions. First will be considered the small
claims courts which have been signally successful in caring for the
oases involving $50 or less without delay, without excessive court
costs, and without the necessity for attorneys. Then comes the allied
subject of conciliation, which is still in an experimental stage in
America but which has a long and enviable record of achievement
in Norway and Denmark. Next will be taken up certain aspects of
the workmen’s compensation acts as administered by industrial acci­
dent commissions, and following that the legal assistance afforded
to poor persons, especially in the collection of wages, by the labor
commissioners in the several States.
These agencies—small claims courts, conciliation, industrial acci­
dent commissions, labor commissioners—all represent efforts to deal
with certain limited types or classes of cases by special means
adapted to the particular cases within their jurisdiction. Beyond
them lies the whole area of legal litigation as to which no short cuts
of procedural or administrative reform have been devised, where




the need for the attorney’s service remains as great as it has ever
been, and where the only solution seems to be afforded by the further
development and expansion of our legal aid organizations. Because
for the final solution of our existing difficulties we must rely on
them so heavily, and because to date they have not secured the
public attention and support to which their merits entitle them, the
final chapters of this article will be devoted to the story of how these
organizations came into being, of the nature and manner of their
work, and of the unique service that they now render to more than
125,000 persons every year.

The effort to make our courts more serviceable to the modern com­
munity has met with striking success in the direction of devising a
simplified form of procedure for the smaller cases. The courts
which utilize this quick and inexpensive procedure are commonly
called small claims courts; their jurisdiction differs in different
States; the average jurisdiction is over matters involving $50 or less
and this includes most claims for wages, debts (such as grocery
bills), disputes about rent, board and lodging, detention of property
under claim of lien, damage to personal property—in short, a very
large number of the cases in which wage earners are likely to become
involved. The importance of these new courts, from our point of
view, can hardly be exaggerated. It is of prime importance that
their true nature and function be understood, and to that end it is
essential to distinguish them from another new agency which is
known as conciliation.
Small claims courts and conciliation are distinct things. There
is much confusion on this point and much reason for the confusion,
but no intelligent grasp of the developments in these two separate
fields is possible unless at the outset it can be made clear that small
claims courts on the one hand and conciliation on the other are
fundamentally different. The difference is one of kind and not of
From any analytical point of view small claims courts and con­
ciliation tribunals have little in common; in most essential features
they are opposite. Yet the two terms are often used as if they were
interchangeable. We are confronted literally with a case of mis­
taken identity. This is because the establishment of the first small
claims court and the modern revival of the idea of conciliation
occurred at the same time. By a freak of coincidence the official
history of both begins on precisely the same day in the same year.
These twin ideas, as much unlike each other as twins commonly are,
were brought into being by the same underlying cause—the absolute
necessity of doing something to make justice more accessible to poor
persons. Both aimed, therefore, at the same goal, but they contem­
plated attaining that goal in different ways and through different
The first small claims court was established in Cleveland on
March 15, 1913. By the irony of fate it was called the “ concilia­
tion ” branch of the municipal court, which, as the chief justice of
that court has pointed out, is simply a misnomer. On March 15,



1913, the Kansas Legislature, acting entirely independently of this
Cleveland experiment, passed a law creating “ small debtors’ courts,”
which were, in all important respects save one, nothing more nor less
than conciliation tribunals.
These twists of nomenclature were enough to account for the
original confusion as to these new agencies, but the continuing con­
fusion that pervades the discussion and the literature on these sub­
jects arises from the ambiguous use of the word “ conciliation.”
Conciliation is a method of settling disputes, just as litigation is
another method and arbitration still another. But the term is also
used to denote conciliation tribunals; that is, to denote the institu­
tion which employs the method of conciliation. When we speak of
conciliation in North Dakota we mean the conciliation tribunals of
that State.
What, then, are these small claims courts and conciliation tri­
bunals in relation to the administration of justice as a whole and in
relation to each other?
First. A small claims court is a court and a conciliation tribunal
is not a court. In upholding the constitutionality of the North
Dakota conciliation act the State supreme court says: “ A concilia­
tion board such as is provided for is not a court; it is a tribunal, a
board, a table of peace where those who have certain kinds of con­
troversies are invited to sit; this tribunal possesses none of the
attributes of a court.”
Second. A small claims court, like any other court, has power to
render a decision and to enter a judgment which is as binding and
as enforceable as the judgment of any other court in the land. A
conciliation tribunal has no power to make a binding decision; the
only judgment it can enter is one to which both parties voluntarily
Third. A small claims court has compulsory jurisdiction over the
defendant; its writ or summons is a legal process and the penalty
for disobeying it is a default. A conciliation tribunal has no power
to compel the attendance of the defendant; it invites him to come
and tell his story, but he may defy the invitation with absolute
Finally, the small claims court is a court of law. Cases in a small
claims court are heard by a judge and his decision is based on
the rules of substantive law. Conciliation tribunals are commonly
presided over by laymen and the judgment, if any, need bear no
relation whatsoever to the rules of law. This must be made clear.
I f A sues B for a grocery bill and the judge of the small claims
court after hearing the evidence decides that the amount due is $25
the only proper judgment he can render is one for $25. In the
conciliation tribunal, if the conciliator believes the amount due is
$25 but A and B agree it is $35 or $15 the only judgment that can
be entered will be for $35 or $15 as the parties have agreed.
These are the fundamental attributes of, and the fundamental
differences between, small claims courts and conciliation tribunals.
There are other features, less important and less absolute, pertain­
ing to these agencies that need to be mentioned. As a small claims
court is a court of law its hearings, in accordance with constitutional
requirement, are open and public. A conciliation tribunal’s hearing



is commonly held in secret. Testimony offered before a small
claims court may be used, in accordance with the rules of evidence,
at a retrial or subsequent hearing. A conciliation tribunal is like
a confessional; what is there said goes no further. Lawyers are
generally barred from conciliation hearings; the most recent and
best small claims courts do not prohibit attorneys, although in fact
they seldom appear.
In both small claims courts and conciliation tribunals the pro­
cedure is highly informal, rules of pleading, trial procedure, and
evidence are largely dispensed with. The parties tell their stories
in their own words and are questioned directly by the judge or the
conciliator. The outward appearance of a small claims court hearing
and of a conciliation tribunal hearing is thus much the same. A
small claims court on occasion does approach so closely to the con­
ciliation tribunal as to be identical with it not merely in procedure
but in function. A conciliation tribunal can never become a small
claims court but a small claims court can and does metamorphose
itself into a conciliation tribunal by the simple expedient of in­
voking the method of conciliation. For example, A and B appear
before the small claims court judge. B says, “ A, you claim $30.
I owe you only $27, which I will pay now.” A says, “ I won’t take
it.” The judge says to A, “Assuming for the moment that you are
right, $27 in the hand is sometimes worth more than a $30 judg­
ment,” and he explains why. A says, “Judge, that sounds like com­
mon sense to me. I ’ll take the $27.” B then pays it. The judge
enters “ Judgment for A in the sum of $27 and judgment satisfied.”
While the method of conciliation may be utilized more readily and
more commonly in the small claims court its use is not peculiar to
that court. All courts have from time immemorial invoked con­
ciliation when it seemed appropriate. What trial lawyer has not
seen instances in which a judge (often just before the case goes to
the jury) has called counsel into his chamber and said, “ Before
we go any further I want to suggest that you see if your clients
might come together along the following lines.” He does this be­
cause it promotes justice and because it often succeeds.
When the small claims court judge attempts conciliation his
court is, for the moment, functionally identical with a conciliation
tribunal, but underneath it all the fundamental difference remains
unchanged. I f conciliation fails the conciliation tribunal is done,
its power is exhausted. The small claims court judge, however, is
only beginning. The preliminary step of conciliation having failed,
he proceeds to hear the evidence, to decide the issue, and to enter
his judgment.
From this background we can now pass on to the little known
and rather surprising narrative of what has actually taken place,
what small claims courts have already been established, what their
experience thus far has been, and what their future is likely to be.
Small claims courts are being established with great rapidity.
Though the idea is only 12 years old it has taken root in various
cities and throughout a number of States, from Massachusetts in
the East to California in the West. This development is a national,
not a local, phenomenon and its momentum has by no means



The historical record may be condensed into two paragraphs.
The Cleveland small claims court was established in 1913 under
rules of the municipal court. In 1915 the Oregon Legislature pro­
vided by statute for the small claims department o f the District
Court for Multnomah County. (Portland) and in 1917 extended
the plan to all counties. The Chicago Municipal Court by rules
created a special division for small causes in 1916. In 1920 the
Philadelphia Municipal Court by rule organized a special depart­
ment including small claims, and Spokane inaugurated its small
claims court.
A great forward step was taken when Massachusetts in 1921 estab­
lished a state-wide system of small claims courts by requiring the
judge of every lower court throughout the State to establish a special
procedure and special sessions for the hearing of all small claims, not
merely contract actions, but tort actions (other than slander and
libel) as well, where the amount claimed was $35 or less. In 1921
California and South Dakota by statute erected state-wide systems
of small-claims courts, and Minnesota, having liked the Minneapolis
experiment, extended the plan to St. Paul and Stillwater. Iowa
passed an act in 1923 providing for conciliation and also giving all
the lower-court judges power to regulate the procedure in small
claims. Also in 1923 Idaho and Nevada created their state-wide
systems of small-claims courts.
Thus, throughout seven States and in four great cities in other
States the small-claims court is an established fact.
Since Massachusetts was the first State to pass a state-wide act of
general application to all small legal actions, thereby making the
small-claims courts an integral part of its administration of justice,
and since the Massachusetts law and procedure are in many respects
the best thus far devised, the situation in that State affords a good
practical illustration of what the idea is, how it works, and what it
Massachusetts has both an industrial and an agricultural popula­
tion. It has great cities and small country towns. Its citizenship
consists of the descendants of the original Anglo-Saxon stock and a
great number of immigrants of diverse races. In short, here are
presented all those problems that make the administration of justice
in our country peculiarly difficult. The courts of the State are above
the average. In the lower courts the fees and costs were compara­
tively low, and a great deal had been done to eliminate delays. Yet
the poor man with a small case in many instances found the courts
practically closed to him, because the fees for entry and service of
process were more than he could afford and because of the expense of
employing counsel to pilot his little case through the intricacies of
pleadings, evidence, and trial procedure. It is probable that the
problem existed in less acute form in Massachusetts than in most
other States, but a specially appointed judicature commission, after
traveling throughout the State, conferring with judges, and con­
ducting hearings, stated in its first report:
The substantial point which the commission believes to be established by all
this evidence is that, as a practical matter in many cases involving small
amounts, the delay incident to formal court procedure, the expense involved
in the service of process and in the present entry fee, and the expense o f an



attorney result in a failure of justice simply because the parties have not the
money to pay what is required in the litigation of these matters.
This is not a healthy state of affairs in any community. That the failure of
justice in this way may be relatively less in Massachusetts than that in some
other places is no reason why efforts should not be made to improve matters
in Massachusetts. Is it fair that a man who has a small claim for $5 or $10
or thereabouts should be under the necessity of paying out as much or more
than the amount of his claim in order to present the matter to the court?
Can not Massachusetts devise some practical method of handling these small
daims promptly, simply, informally, and without unnecessary existing ex­
penses, in the interests of justice?

The commission recommended legislation, the essential features of
which are:
The justices (o f the lower courts) shall make uniform rules providing for a
simple, informal, and inexpensive procedure for the determination, according to
the rules of substantive law, of claims in the nature o f contract or tort other
than slander and libel in which the plaintiff does not claim as debt or damages
more than $35. Such procedure shall not be exclusive, but shall be alternative
to the formal procedure for causes begun by writ. Such procedure shall in­
clude the beginning of actions without entry fee or writ or requirement, except
by special order of court, of other pleading than a statement to a clerk or
an assistant clerk of the court, who shall reduce the same to concise written
form in a docket kept for the purpose. Such procedure shall include notice by
mail instead of the mode of legal service heretofore required, and shall further
include provisions for early hearing of actions thus begun. Such procedure
may include the modification of any or all existing rules o f pleading and
practice, and a stay of the entry of judgment or of the issue o f execution.
The rules for such procedure may provide for the elimination of any or all
fees and costs now fixed by law, and that the imposition of costs in causes
under such procedure shall be in the discretion of the court. In causes begun
under such procedure the court may on application for cause shown issue writs
of attachment of property or person as in causes begun by writ.

The legislature amended the bill so as to require a one-dollar entry
fee and then enacted it in 1920, postponing its effective date to 1921
so that the judges might have time to formulate their rules. A copy
of the law and a copy of the rules will be found in appendixes to this
A small-claims court is doomed to failure unless it can speedily
bring its cases to a final determination. It was at first feared that
the Minneapolis court would be wrecked by multitudinous appeals.
The chief difficulty is the constitutional guaranty of right to trial
by jury, which Massachusetts, in common with most States, extends
to all suitors in actions at law. This right can not be cut off and
therefore the small claims act provides as follows: A plaintiff may
sue in the regular way but if he elects to use the small-claims pro­
cedure (and plaintiffs are substantially unanimous in their prefer­
ence) then he has waived his jury claim. The defendant may at once
(not after the decision) remove the case to the superior court for
jury trial, but if he does not then he too has waived. There is no
appeal. It was debated whether the law should make the removal by
the defendant burdensome by requiring extra fees or a bond. The
commission decided against any such attempt on the ground that if
the small claims court did not command the respect of the litigants
it could not in any event be successful. The practical answer is
that during 1921, 2,041 cases were entered in the small-claims branch
of the Boston Municipal Court and only six defendants exercised
their right of removal.
This problem of appeal—which means delay and expense—and
the allied problem or the right to jury trial are critical and must



be overcome at the outset. We commend the Massachusetts plan,
which is sound law and workable in practice, as the precedent to
be followed wherever it is applicable. In Cleveland, the situation
is analogous. The small claims court’s decision is final on the facts;
an appeal on points of law goes directly to the court of appeals,
the intermediate appeal to the court of common pleas having been
abolished. In California the decision is conclusive as to the plain­
tiff but the defendant may appeal by giving bond to pay the judg­
ment (if affirmed) and also a special fee of $15 for the plaintiff’s
attorney. The system in Idaho, Minnesota, and Oregon is like that
of California.
The procedure in all small claims courts is very much the same.
Using Massachusetts again as our illustration, if Adams has a
grocery bill against Babbitt in Boston he goes to the clerk of the
small claims branch. Many matters are there settled or dropped.
In 1921, of 2,041 cases filed, 190 or 9 per cent were settled by pay­
ments to the clerk aggregating $2,792.18 so that they never came be­
fore the court. I f an immediate settlement is not effectuated, the
clerk has Adams sign (no oath is required) a simple statement of
claim which appears in the docket as follows:
Claim: Defendant owes plaintiff $27.83 for groceries and household goods
sold him between October 16, 1920, and December 28, 1920.

I f the statement does not make out a prima facie case it may go
at once before a judge, who determines whether the claim shall be
received. The general principle that the statement may be in­
formal and need not be the equivalent of a common law declara­
tion is upheld in Shea v. Robinson (298 111. 181 (1921)).
The entry fee is $1. Some entry fee is desirable. In San Fran­
cisco, where the proceedings are absolutely free, collection and in­
stallment houses dun their debtors ad libitum without any expense by
having their bills mailed out by the small claims clerk with post­
age stamps paid for by the county treasury.
The case is set down for hearing within a week or 10 days and
the clerk gives the plaintiff a card stating the exact time and place.
Notice then goes to the defendant, not in the usual form of a
writ couched in archaic technical language but in the following
direct style:
To John T. Babbitt.
Amos X . Adams asks judgment o f this court against you for $27.83 for
groceries and household goods sold you between October 16, 1920, and Decem­
ber 28, 1920.
The court wiU give a hearing upon this claim at (here the court house and
room is inserted) at 9 o’clock in the forenoon on Thursday, February 3, 1921.
I f you deny the claim, in whole or part, you must, not later than Tuesday,
February 1, 1921, state to the clerk, personally or by attorney, orally or in
writing, your full and specific defense to such claim, and you must also ap­
pear at the hearing. Unless you do both, judgment may be entered against
you by default. I f your defense is supported by witnesses, account books,
receipts or other documents, you should produce them at the hearing. Sum­
monses for witnesses, if requested, will be issued by clerk, without fee.
I f you admit the claim, but desire time to pay, you must, not later than
Tuesday, February 1,1921, personally or by attorney, state to the clerk, orally
or in writing, that you desire time to pay, and you must also appear at the
hearing and show your reasons for desiring time to pay.
56861°— 26----- 3



This notice is sent by registered mail, return receipt requested.
I f the postman (who knows most of the persons in his district) can
not make delivery, then the court may order other process. In the
Boston district in 1921 only 8 notices were returned because accept­
ance was refused and only 124 were returned because the defend­
ant could not be located. In fact, service by mail works so well that
the Cleveland court, which has used it longest, has discarded regis­
tered mail and used the ordinary 2-cent mail not merely in small
cases but as the regular method of service in all municipal court
Attachments are rarely issued, but they may be used if the
court so orders. This seems better than the California rule that
“ no attachment or garnishment shall issue from the small claims
It will be noted that the Massachusetts procedure requires the
defendant to file an answer (or tell his defense to the clerk who will
file it for him) or be defaulted. The arguments pro and con on
this point are evenly balanced. By not requiring any answer, you
save the defendant one trip to court and you eliminate one proce­
dural step. On the other hand, unless an answer is required the
plaintiff is obliged to attend the court often for the sole purpose of
being entitled to a default judgment. Furthermore, the answer
gives the plaintiff opportunity to prepare for a defense he had not
expected. For these reasons Massachusetts requires an answer; for
the contrary reasons the other small claims courts do not. The wiser
course can not be determined by theorizing; it will be decided by
On the assigned date (unless there be a default) both parties ap­
pear in person, and the judge conducts the hearing by direct con­
versation with the parties and their witnesses when there are any.
The judge keeps the evidence within the bounds of relevancy but
he does not bother if heresay creeps into the testimony of a man
trying to tell his story in his own words. Much litigation grows
out of misunderstanding; when that appears the judge may be able
to remove it and here he is using the method of conciliation. More
litigation grows out of the defendant’s inability to pay and when
he nnds that he can pay in installments his denial often becomes a
candid admission. In any event, the court makes a decision which
is entered as a judgment. I f the defendant needs time, issuance of
execution may be stayed.
The procedure is obviously informal and untechnical. As ex­
pressed in rule 7, “ Witnesses shall be sworn; but the court shall
conduct the hearing in such manner and form, and with such
methods of proof, as it deems best suited to discover the facts and
to determine the justice of the case.”
The justice of the case is determined, it must again be emphasized,
not as the arbitrary ruling of an untrammeled despot and not as the
merciful dispensation of a Haroun-el-Raschid, but according to
law. The small claims courts administer justice according to the
principles of substantive law.
We have now gone far enough to venture some appraisal of these
courts. They are new courts but still courts of law. And though
new they do not add to our problem of multiplicity of courts because



hey are organized as branches or sessions of existing courts. They
represent not new institutions but new equipment for existing in­
The small claims courts disregard the established rules of pleading,
procedure, and evidence, but they are by law authorized to disregard
them. A departure from a religious observance of these rules is no
menace. As Hon. Charles E. Hughes has expressed it :
The judicial quality does not reside in form or ceremony, still less in circum­
locution and an avoidance of the pith of the matter. The judicial quality of
procedure is found in the impartial hearing and the reasoned determination
upon ascertained facts, and it may be speedy, summary, and, as our clients
would say, businesslike, without losing its character.

“ I f we must choose between too much procedure and too little,”
Hon. Elihu Eoot has remarked, “ we had better have too little.”
That the small claims court procedure works well is evidenced by
their record. The statistics of the Cleveland small-claims court,
which has been in successful operation for 12 years, show that in
1913, 2,367 cases were disposed o f ; in 1916, 5,182 cases were disposed
o f; in 1922, more than 6,500 cases were disposed of.
The Minneapolis court handled 37,174 cases from August, 1917, to
August, 1923. During its first three years the court disposed of
15,862 cases, as follows:
Settled before hearing, 3,092, or 19.5 per cent; settled in court (i. e. con­
ciliated), 1,397, or 8.8 per cent; judgments by default, 3,239, or 20.4 per cent;
cases tried, both parties present, 8,134, or 51.3 per cent; cases dismissed, 1,006;
judgments for plaintiffs 5,879; judgments for defendants, 1,249; appeals, 117,
or 2 per cent o f appeals from judgments for plaintiffs.

The Chicago small-claims branch now requires three judges, who
dispose of about 30,000 cases a year. During its first year the Phila­
delphia small-claims department received 2,939 cases, in 1921 the
San Francisco court had approximately 2,500 cases, and in the same
year the Boston court had 2,041.
In addition to the figures on this point, already cited, we find that
in the Minneapolis court out of 37,174 cases during six years there
have been but 735 appeals, and in the Cleveland court from 1913 to
1920 there were about 35,000 cases and only 2 appeals. During its
first year the San Francisco court had only 3 or 4 appeals out of a
volume of about 2,500 cases.
The advantages of the small-claims courts are clear. First and
foremost they do justice in a class of cases where justice could not be
done by the machinery formerly in existence. Because they secure
justice to the humble citizen with his small case they demonstrate
the integrity of our institutions and they afford a practical object
lesson in real, as distinguished from talky-talk, Americanization.
They have relieved congested dockets. It is not infrequent for a
small claims court judge to dispose of as many as a hundred cases
a day.
How far the jurisdiction of small claims courts may wisely be ex­
tended is a matter for experience, not theory, to decide. Chicago
started at $50 in 1915, increased its limit to $100 in 1916 and to $200
in 1917. No other court has gone so far. The Oregon courts are
limited to money claims not exceeding $20. Cleveland’s jurisdic­
tional limit is $35, but in 1923 the chief justice of the municipal
court said, “ We are seriously considering consigning to the (siuall



claims) court all cases in which the amount involved is $100 or less.”
The Massachusetts Legislature set the figure at $35, the State grange
has sought to have this increased to $75, several of the clerks favor
$100, but Chief Justice Bolster of the Boston Municipal Court says,
“ While not opposing such a small increase as to $50, I believe the
system has not been tried for a long enough time to determine
whether for large claims it would constitute an improvement over
the usual procedure.” The Minneapolis court’s jurisdiction has been
increased from $50 to $75.
These courts are a success and should continue to be a success,
because for the pressing need that exists they provide a perfect
answer. They are not a surface panacea; they go to the roots of the
difficulty. They are swift in action (10 days is enough for a small
claims court to do its work), thereby eliminating delay; they have
reduced costs to a minimum by abolishing fictitious costs and by
utilizing mail service (the court costs vary from zero in California to
57 cents in Cleveland, 75 cents in Oregon, and $1.12 in Massachu­
setts). They are so simple that, aided by the clerk and the judge,
the parties can conduct their own cases, thereby making the expense
of counsel unnecessary. This system in toto represents a complete,
thorough, and sound plan whereby our machinery of justice may be
adapted to a special need of the community.
For a completely adequate plan to secure justice in the smaller
cases we would not need to look beyond the small claims courts if
their extension throughout the United States were possible. Un­
fortunately that is not the case, because in many parts of the coun­
try our court organization is not suited to this purpose. The wide
discretion and summary power implicit in the informal small claims
procedure require that the court to which it is intrusted be a wellorganized, responsible municipal court as in Chicago, Cleveland,
Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Philadelphia, and that for adoption on
a state-wide basis all the lower courts be of high standard; in Mas­
sachusetts, for example, every lower court is a court of record, its de­
cision is final in all civil matters within its jurisdiction, and the
judges of the several lower courts have an association that enables
them to adopt uniform rules of procedure.
For every city or judicial district in which the small claims court
plan could be immediately adopted there are, according to an esti­
mate by the secretary of the American Judicature Society, perhaps
ten times as many places where it is inapplicable. As is stated in a
report on this subject presented to the conference of bar association
delegates in 1924, “ There are States in which there are no courts be­
tween the justice of the peace and the circuit courts, except probate
courts and special courts in the larger towns and cities. In such
States there are many counties on which the benefits of small claims
procedure can not be conferred but which must be reached through
court reorganization or by some form of conciliation if any solution
is to be found.” Because conciliation may afford the most practicable
immediate solution in a substantial part of the country it merits
careful examination.



In speaking of conciliation it must be borne in mind that*we are
not dealing with conciliation and mediation as a means of settling
collective disputes between capital and labor; in this article we are
concerned only with conciliation as a method for settling disputes
between individuals, claims for wages, debts, rent, damage to prop­
erty, breach of contract, and especially with conciliation in the
smaller cases within the jurisdiction of the conciliation tribunals.
There are few conciliation tribunals in the United States even
if we use the term broadly. In 1913 the Kansas Legislature estab­
lished “ small debtors’ ” courts in Topeka, Leavenworth, and Kan­
sas City. In 1917 the Minneapolis “ conciliation ” court was created;
in the main, this is a small claims court, but a part of its jurisdiction
is purely that of a conciliation tribunal. The board of justices of the
municipal court of the city of New York in 1917 adopted rules for
the disposition of controversies through conciliation. In 1921 North
Dakota passed a statute making definite provision for conciliation
tribunals and in 1923 Iowa followed suit.
These developments are so recent that we have little practical
experience to serve as a guide. In Minneapolis the court’s power to
sit as a conciliation tribunal (as distinguished from its small claims
procedure) has been seldom invoked. The New York Municipal
Court’s rules for conciliation lay in abeyance from 1917 to 1925,
when Justices Lauer and Davies revived the idea, the results of
which it is, of course, too early to a sc e rta in . North Dakota, there­
fore, affords the only American experiment from which we can
hope to gain any tangible idea of the nature of conciliation tribunals
and their results.
In North Dakota since 1895 there had been on the books a law
providing for the election of four conciliators in every incorporated
town and village. Resort to conciliation could be had only if a
case was pending in court and if both parties consented to have it
transferred to the conciliator. This plan was wholly ineffective,
the law was a dead letter, and it is doubtful if the conciliators were
even elected.
To remedy these defects the 1921 statute provides for the appoint­
ment of conciliators by district court judges, and added a compul­
sory feature to the effect that in claims of $200 or less no one can
sue in a court until he has first (except in certain exempted classes
of cases, as suits on promissory notes) attempted conciliation. The
procedure is as follows: A would-be suitor goes to the conciliator
and states his claim. The conciliator notifies the adverse party of
the time and place of hearing by mail, telephone, or word of mouth.
I f the defendant appears and the parties are enabled to reach an
agreement, the terms of the agreement are written, signed by the
parties, and may then be entered in the district court as a judgment.
I f the defendant refuses to appear or if the parties fail to agree,
then the conciliator can do nothing; he issues a certificate of “ non­
conciliation,” which leaves the plaintiff free to pursue his action
in the regular way in the courts.
The attorney general of North Dakota has stated “ the results
of conciliation have not justified the hopes of the authors of the
measure.” Investigation reveals that the plan has encountered
numerous obstacles, but whether this is because the law is defectively



drawn or because of other factors it is too early to know. Our brief
contemporary experience can not be taken as conclusive.
The idea underlying conciliation makes a great and a universal
appeal. It will not down. Like hope, it “ springs eternal in the
human breast.” As Charles A. Boston has expressed it, “ Concilia­
tion is one of the oldest forms of judicial procedure, which reappears
sporadically from time to time.” The conduct of cases in the first
American courts during the colonial era is suggestive of conciliation
procedure. In the period from 1846 to 1851 we find provisions
tor conciliation being inserted in the new constitutions of New
York, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. The
high hopes of these framers were disappointed, but again the idea
reappears, as has been noted, in 1913, in 1917, in 1921, and in 1923.
In 1921, when the conciliation, act was passed in North Dakota, one
branch of the legislature was conservative and the other in control
of the Non-Partisan League, but both branches agreed on this
measure. The great Lord Chancellor Brougham, who labored so
valiantly to improve the position of the poor in England during the
early nineteenth century, had great faith in conciliation. Mr. Justice
Parry, of the English county courts, and author of “ The Law and
the Poor,” is to-day an earnest advocate of informal conciliation
procedure as the best method for the settlement of small causes.
Still more important is the indisputable fact that for more than a
century conciliation tribunals have been markedly successful in both
Norway and Denmark. Nickolay Grevstad in an article on the
Norwegian system states: “ It is regarded as one of the cornerstones
of the national system of justice and it is not an exaggeration to say
that any attempt to abolish it would provoke a revolution.”
While the history of conciliation in America has thus far been
disappointing it would be unsound to dismiss it altogether from our
plans for improving the machinery of justice. The sensible course
is to maintain an open mind, to study more closely the procedure that
has been developed in Norway and Denmark, to determine the rea­
sons for its great success, and then in the light of more accurate
knowledge to try to secure its benefits for ourselves by including
some adequate provision for conciliation in our American laws.
So much has been published on workmen’s compensation legisla­
tion that in this article we may limit ourselves to those aspects of
the subject which throw new light upon, or otherwise are peculiarly
pertinent to, our immediate problem of how the machinery of justice
can be adapted or supplemented in order that it may be attuned more
closely to the needs of the present day.
The superiority of the law affording compensation for accidents
over the prior law which required a suit for damages based on the
employer’s negligence is so great and is so universally admitted
that no extended comment on this aspect of the matter is necessary.
But if the legislation which introduced the compensation principle
had stopped there very little gain would have resulted, and in fact
the legislatures went much further. They attacked the defects in
the machinery of justice which we have summarized under the three



headings of delays, court costs and fees, and the necessary expense
involved in the employment of counsel. The legislatures prac­
tically abolished all costs and fees, they designed a procedure that
would be summary in character, they wished to eliminate the neces­
sity for counsel altogether, and accordingly they intrusted the ad­
ministration of the workmen’s compensation acts not to the courts
but to a new type of quasi-judicial agency called industrial accident
boards or commissions.
In Chapter IY , dealing with court costs and fees, it is stated that
expenses of this sort ought never to be permitted to constitute an
obstacle to justice, because it is s6 easily within the power of the
legislature to reduce them to a minimum or abolish them in toto.
The compensation acts did so, and after a decade of experience it
is clear that great good and no harm has resulted. The Connecticut
compensation act carried the principle one step farther and pro­
vided that if a case was appealed from the commission no costs
should be charged in the superior court. Likewise the problem of
stenographic expense has been met; most of the commissions em­
ploy and pay their own reporter to take the record of the proceed­
ings. Iowa, in 1924, by statute expressly authorized this, and as
a result this expense of litigation is lifted from the shoulders of
the injured workman.
In adjusting claims promptly the commissions have done equally
well. A study of 7,330 claims in Wisconsin during the first half
of the year 1922 revealed that in 77 per cent of the cases compensa­
tion payments began within 5 weeks of the injury and in 96 per cent
of the cases within 13 weeks. Bulletin No. 301 of the United States
Bureau of Labor Statistics (p. 42) shows that from 75 to 95 per cent
of all compensable injury claims are adjudicated without formal
hearing; in other words, they are adjusted with extreme rapidity.
The late Mr. E. H. Downey, a recognized authority on compensa­
tion matters, in his last book, published in 1924, puts it even higher
and says: “At least 95 per cent of all compensation claims are settled
by direct agreement between the parties without reference to any
tribunal.” The report of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and
Industry, summarized in the Monthly Labor Review of the United
States Bureau of Labor Statistics for April, 1922, makes these figures
more dramatic by saying: “ Into more than 320,000 stricken homes,
within an average of 19 days after the accident, has gone a certificate,
signed by the chairman of the board, that the injured man’s voluntary
agreement with his employer has been found properly executed and
that compensation will be paid under it.”
In contested cases, where some kind of hearing and adjudication
is necessary, the record for prompt dispatch o f business is main­
tained. The 1917 report of the California Industrial Accident Com­
mission shows that 86.5 per cent of its disputed claims were decided
within 62 days. This period of 2 months may be compared with
the 2 years and 5 months average time required to complete court
action in common law personal injury suits as reported by the
actuary o f the Ohio commission.
Nor does this speed seem to have prejudiced the accuracy of the
commission’s work. The California commission reports in 1921:
“ Efforts to review the awards of the commission were made in but



0.023 per cent o f the cases in which awards were made; in but 6 of
the 50 cases decided by the appellate courts was the award of the
commission disturbed.”
The compensation acts commonly said “ proceedings shall be sum­
mary,” but the credit for the excellent record that has been made
does not belong to this legislative fiat. In dealing with the factor
of delay we have said that delays could be eliminated only if and
when the courts were given power to regulate their own procedure
and to control the formal routine of their business through rules
which are flexible and which can be altered to meet changing cir­
cumstances. Precisely this power was given the industrial acci­
dent commissions, and their intelligent use of that power is respon­
sible for the elimination of delay in compensation cases.
In the 95 per cent of the accident claims that are automatically
adjusted by agreements supervised and approved by the commis­
sions the necessity for employing counsel has been completely
obviated. As to this vast number of cases we have closely approxi­
mated the ideal of our law. The injured wage earner received the
equal protection of the laws without delay, without the payment
o i court costs and fees, and without the expense of employing
As to contested cases, the commissions have done much to assist
the injured man to prepare his case through their staffs o f in­
spectors and through the provision of impartial medical experts.
But that is not enough. In any real contest the injured employee
needs to be represented by counsel as much as does a litigant in
any other case if his rights are to be fully protected. This lesson
has been learned by generations of experience with litigated matters,
and it is hard to see why compensation cases should prove one
exception to the rule. For the commissions themselves to act as
counsel for the injured man is highly dangerous. It is axiomatic
that no man can be judge of his own cause. For the same reason
it is difficult for a commissioner to judge a cause in which he is the
advocate. Either he will be a partial judge or his advocacy will
lack that zealous fidelity to his client’s cause which is the very
essence of the attorney’s duty. As the American Bar Association’s
Canon of Ethics, No. 15, states it, “ The lawyer owes entire devo­
tion to the interests of his client, warm zeal in the maintenance
and defense of his rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning
and ability, to the end that nothing be taken or be withheld from
him save by the rules of law legally applied.” A t a meeting of
the International Association o f Industrial Accident Boards and
Commissions the chairman of the Pennsylvania commission pointed
this out forcibly: “ I f your boards take up the side o f the workman
and prepare the workman’s cases, and let the workman present the
case, through his own lips, that you prepared for him, and you
decide your cases, you are soon going to cripple your own usefulness
through lack of confidence by the community.”
The real situation is obscured by describing these commissions as
“ quasi-judicial ” bodies. Their task as to the cases which are settled
by agreement is supervisory, it is administrative in its nature. As
to disputed cases, however, their task is not quasi-judicial but is
primarily and essentially a pure judicial function. Their decision



on the facts is final, their decision on the law is generally final be­
cause relatively few cases are appealed to the courts.
As precedents accumulate, as the pressure of work increases, the
commissions in order to perform their judicial functions properly
will have less time and less opportunity to act, or attempt to act,
as counsel for the injured workmen. In our opinion, as time goes
on the need for an attorney to represent the workmen in disputed
cases will become more and more apparent. A solution may be
afforded by the legal aid organizations which, if they are properly
developed, can supply the services of attorneys to injured work­
men without any expense or for such nominal charges as the com­
missions themselves may fix. The first step in this direction has
been taken through joint action by the International Association
of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions and the National
Association of Legal Aid Organizations, each association having ap­
pointed a special committee to consider how far such a cooperative
arrangement may now be feasible and workable or may be made to be.
In Pennsylvania the commission has attached to its staff salaried
attorneys whose services are available to claimants under the com­
pensation act. This might seem a better solution than that sug­
gested in the preceding paragraph; certainly the Pennsylvania pro­
vision is far better than no provision, but in the long run we are
of opinion that the legal aid organizations may afford a more per­
manent solution, and for two reasons. In the first place, the his­
tory of the development of legal institutions indicates that the
attorney, in order to fulfill his obligation to his client, should be in­
dependent of and not a paid retainer of the tribunal in which he
pleads his cases. An analogy makes this plainer. I f a citizen, when
haled into court, could be represented only by an attorney selected
by the judge, paid by the judge, and subject to discharge by the
judge, he would be resentful. And the community at large would
regard the arrangement as foreign to our conception of safeguard­
ing the right of the individual so that he can neither be condemned
for crime nor deprived o f property until after a full and impartial
trial in open court. Secondly, and more important, the problem
of the expense of counsel is not limited to compensation cases but
is a general problem for which we want a general rather than a
piecemeal solution. Rather than attaching salaried attorneys to every
court or tribunal in which indigent persons have cases it would
seem less expensive, more efficient, and more in harmony with the
spirit of our institutions to have one central law office to which the
less well-to-do persons could go and there obtain whatever assist­
ance from lawyers they may need. Such central offices are what
the legal aid organizations ought to become in the natural course
of their development and what some of them have already become
with their staffs of well-trained attorneys, qualified to practice be­
fore all courts and commissions, and possessing expert knowledge
as to those types of cases in which wage earners are commonly in­
volved. As a concrete illustration, we believe the Massachusetts
Industrial Accident Commission would bear out the statement that
during the last 10 years the Boston Legal Aid Society has had at­
tached to its staff an attorney thoroughly qualified to represent
injured workmen in disputed cases under the compensation act.



Because the compensation acts have on the whole been so success­
ful in securing justice to the wage-earning class the question arises
as to how far the same plan might be developed into a more general
solution for our existing difficulty. It is clear that the employees
on interstate railroads, seamen, longshoremen, and all others who
fall under the shadow of the Jensen decision should be brought
within the protection of compensation acts. This is merely bring­
ing other classes of employers within the scope of the laws; it does
not involve any extension of the compensation principle and of the
administrative method into new fields.
Suggestions have been made for its extension to automobile acci­
dents and injuries to passengers on street cars and railroads. Im­
mediately difficulties of the first magnitude-appear. A compensation
plan must first fix a schedule for specific indemnities. The loss of a
finger to the tender of automatic looms is not comparable to the loss
of a finger to a violinist, yet both may be injured in the same train
wreck. For nonpermanent disabilities the compensation plan is to
pay two-thirds or three-fourths of the average weekly earnings. As
to employees, earnings can be determined without undue difficulty,
generally from the pay rolls, but any determination of the average
mcome of the public which rides on common carriers would be as
complex as the administration o f the Federal income tax law. There
would necessarily be a vast amount of litigation and in that liti­
gation the claimant* would unquestionably need the services of
In short, there are special fields of the law and certain types of
cases where special machinery may be utilized to eliminate or ob­
viate those factors which cripple the effectiveness of the administra­
tion of justice from the point of view o f the wage earner. The small
claims court is one example. The industrial accident commission
is another. In the next chapter the assistance given by labor
officials, in the collection of wages will be found to be a third. But
beyond the little cases, compensation claims, and wage collections
there is an infinite variety of litigation involving rights and duties
and relationships in which wage earners are deeply concerned, and
so far as we can see, some other solution, something comparable to
the work of the legal aid organizations, will have to be devised and
rapidly developed if the law is to be actively effective and if justice
is to be done.

Just as the law and the courts have found it difficult to adapt
their machinery to modem conditions, so government in the modern
State has found itself confronted with new problems, with compli­
cated questions of social control, and it has accordingly been forced
to extend its sphere of action in many directions and into new fields,
which until recently have been considered of no direct concern to
governmental officials. The so-called blue sky laws, regulating the
sales of securities, that have been enacted in so many States afford
as good an illustration as is needed to indicate this enlarging sphere
of governmental control over private transactions.
We have long had administrative officials such as county commis­
sioners and licensing boards; the Pension Office and the Bureau of



Immigration have long been familiar departments of the Govern­
ment, and even the public utility commissions, though newer, have
been in existence for nearly a generation. None of these bodies,
however important their public work undoubtedly is, have had any
substantial direct influence on the legal position of the individual
wage earner or person of small means so far as his individual legal
problems are concerned.
But the most recent developments of governmental action through
administrative officials do come into contact with the legal problems
of individual citizens and for that reason they are of some concern
to us in this article. The various types of administrative officials
can hardly be embraced within any simple definition. For our pur­
poses we may say that they fall into two groups.
The first group consists of officials and boards which, like the in­
dustrial accident commissions, have both administrative and judicial
functions to perform. They are commonly organized under the
executive department of the Government, but as they have power
to hear and determine cases within their jurisdiction they do, in
reality, stand midway between the executive department and the
judicial department, partaking of the nature of both.
The blue sky law commissions are of this group. They have juris­
diction to hear complaints about stocks and bonds that are sold,
about the salesmen who sell them, to determine the facts, and to
cancel the permission to sell the securities in question or to revoke
the salesman’s license. In other words, if a wage earner has been
defrauded in a stock transaction to-day he goes to the administrative
official in charge of the blue sky law, whereas 10 years ago his only
redress would have been to employ an attorney to bring a suit for
him in the courts. The blue sky commission will investigate the
complaint through its staff of auditors and inspectors and will
summon in the suspected parties, all at public expense. Thus the
problem of expense which has hitherto baffled the man o f limited
means is eliminated because the State has assumed it. The State is
interested in running down fraudulent promoters primarily in order
to safeguard the public in general but the effect, nevertheless, is
often to secure justice for an individual complainant in an individual
case. We must recognize therefore that through such administra­
tive officials we may discover one more method whereby the laws
may be made actively effective and whereby justice can be secured to
the individual.
Sales of stock to individuals of limited financial resources are
generally on the installment plan. By an act of the legislature in
1924 Massachusetts prohibited the sale of any securities under in­
stallment contracts unless the contract had first been submitted to
the blue sky commission and its form approved. Formerly if a wage
earner entered into an oppressive installment contract and failed to
meet a payment his only chance for redress would be to engage
counsel to defend him if suit were brought to enforce the contract
or to sue in equity to prevent all the payments made under the con­
tract from being forfeited. I f the wage earner could not afford
counsel, his legal rights would be completely lost. To-day the same
man would appeal to the proper administrative official, it would
doubtless appear that the hard bargain was in a form never approved



as required by law, and the administrative official would be in a posi­
tion to effect summary redress. The guilty salesman would very
likely be given the option of having his license revoked or of making
full restitution. Thus justice would be secured to the wage earner
without delay, without the payment of a cent for costs, and without
the necessity of employing counsel.
In this same group should be included those administrative offi­
cials in 20 States who are attached to the banking departments,
have jurisdiction over small loans, and are sometimes called super­
visors of small loan agencies. We include them in this group
because they have not only executive functions but also power to
hear and determine cases within their jurisdiction. Their power
rests on the fact that they grant the licenses required by law of all
companies engaged in the business of making loans of $300 or less,
and that they may revoke those licenses. For cause shown they may
put a loan company out of business. I f a borrower has been charged
more than the legal rate of interest, he need not engage a lawyer to
bring a suit in the courts. Instead he walks to the statehouse, com­
plains to the commissioner, who has wide powers of investigation
and power to summon the lender to appear with all his books and
answer the charge. The commissioner hears the evidence, and,
while he has no power to enter a legal judgment for the amount of
the overcharge, he has power to revoke the lender’s license. In prac­
tical effect he can always secure the refund of the overcharge because
the lender would prefer to do that than lose his license. Thus the
borrower secures justice through a summary proceeding which he
can institute without the prepayment of costs and for which he
ordinarily need retain no attorney.
The second group of administrative officials which is of interest
to us is composed of officers whose function is exclusively, or almost
exclusively, executive and not judicial in its nature, who have power
to investigate, but who must institute court proceedings in order to
secure obedience to their orders. Such officers, in the performance
of their duties, render services to complainants which are, in effect,
legal aid because they are the same services that a private attorney
renders his client in a similar situation. Insurance commissioners,
for example, give a substantial amount of free legal advice to persons
who hold small weekly payment policies of life insurance, generally
called industrial insurance. They are willing to take up with the
companies questions of overcharge of premiums, failure to credit
dividends, reinstatement of lapsed policies, and the rights of benefi­
ciaries when the insured has died. I f the insurance company re­
fuses to comply with the insurance commissioner’s request the in­
sured or the beneficiary must go to court to vindicate his rights;
practically, however, the commissioner’s suggestion is apt to be
acceded to and litigation is unnecessary. In such cases the State
has, in effect, provided to the insured an official who has acted as
his attorney, who has advised him as to his rights, and who has
negotiated, a fair settlement with the company, and the expense of
such services is borne by the State.
While stock purchases, small loans, and insurance policies are all
matters in which wage earners are interested, the administrative
arm has been extended into a field of far more vital concern and that
is the collection of wages. A large proportion of all the cases in



which laborers need the help of an efficient administration of justice
consists of claims for unpaid wages. There is no way to know for
a certainty the extent to which wages are not paid promptly in this
country; the fact that most established companies do meet their pay
rolls with absolute regularity blinds public opinion to the fact that
too many wage earners are able to secure their pay only after litiga­
tion or the threat of litigation. Persons who have examined the
available data have expressed the belief that if all the claims for un­
paid wages could be totaled the aggregate would run into astonish­
ingly high figures.
Whether such claims are numbered by tens or hundreds of thou­
sands we must bear in mind that each single claim is a matter of the
utmost consequence to the individual concerned. The wage earner
lives from week to week, his dependency on his Saturday pay
envelope is so absolute that the law has given him the status o f a
preferred creditor (as for instance in bankruptcy and under the
mechanic’s lien statutes). One may go further. The laborer’s right
to be rewarded for his toil is almost a sacred right; the employer’s
obligation to pay is enjoined not only by the law but by religion. No
better statement exists than that in the twenty-fourth chapter of
Deuteronomy :
Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he
be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.
At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon
i t ; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon i t ; lest he cry against thee unto
the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.

In their efforts to secure their pay, the wage earners have found
our legal machinery entirely inadequate. Redress through civil liti­
gation was too slow, too cumbersome, and expensive out of all pro­
portion to the amounts involved. To bring civil proceedings, they
would be obliged to secure the services of attorneys, and we can gain
some idea of the magnitude of the whole problem because we know
that each year the legal aid organizations of the United States col­
lect for their clients over half a million dollars in amounts averaging
about $15 per case and most of the cases are wage claims.
The inadequacy of ordinary litigation in the courts became so
apparent that in State after State the legislature took cognizance
of the situation and endeavored to devise new remedies. I f we can
find some plan that will be as effective in securing justice to unpaid
wage earners as the workmen’s compensation plan is effective in
securing justice to injured workmen, we shall be able to solve a large
section of the whole problem to which this bulletin is addressed.
For that reason it is important to analyze the various experiments
that are being tried in the various States to insure the prompt
payment of wages.
The first legislative effort at a remedy was made in Massachusetts,
when in 1879 the theory of “ freedom of contract” was abandoned
and the law required weekly payment of wages. In 1886 corpora­
tions engaged in certain industries were by statute made liable to
criminal proceedings and to fines for nonpayment of wages. In
1895 the provisions were extended to individual employers. Since
that time down to the present day the law has been extended in its
operation until it embraces every employer in all important lines of



In other States other types of legislation have been tried, but in
each case the effort has been to secure a remedy for the unpaid
workman which would avoid the delay, the expense, and the problem
of securing the services of an attorney.
One group of States has endeavored to compel payment of wages
by imposing a penalty for nonpayment, as by mating the wages
run till paid, leaving, however, the unpaid wage earner to collect
the penalty through an ordinary suit in the ordinary courts.
Kansas (Acts of 1919, ch. 221, amending G. S. 1915, sec. 5875).—
Wages run until paid.
Louisiana (Acts of 1920, ch. 150, sec. 2).—Wages run until paid.
Arkansas (Crawford & Moses Digest (1921), sec. 7125.).— Wages
run until paid or tendered.
California (see More v. Indian Spring Co., 37 Calif. App. 370
(1918)).—Period not exceeding 30 days added to the unpaid wages.
Idaho (2 C. S. (1919), sec. 7381).—Same penalty as for California.
South Carolina (Acts of 1919, No. 20, amending Yol. I, Code of
Laws, sec. 3812).—Same penalty as for California.
Montana (1 K. C. Mont., 1921, secs. 3085, 3086).—Penalty o f 5
per cent of wages due.
Michigan (2 C. L. 1915, sec. 5585).—Penalty 10 per cent for each
day’s delay.
Indiana (see State v. Indiana, 1923, 139 N. E. 282).
Another group of States has endeavored to aid the workman by
providing that if the laborer won, his lawyer’s fee should be paid by
the defendant.
Minnesota (Laws of 1919, ch. 175, sec. 5).—Attorney’s fee o f $5;
(1 Rev. Code (1921), sec. 3089) reasonable attorney fee.
Idaho (2 C. S. (1919), sec. 7380).—Reasonable attorney fee.
These laws are not altogether sufficient. Wage earners as a class
require a cheap, speedy procedure and some one to work the ma­
chinery for them. These laWs all impose a preliminary expense
on the wage earner. They do not expedite the trial of the case
in the courts, although the penalty is supposed to urge the employer
to settle. They do not provide a means whereby the case will be
conducted through the intricacies of legal procedure. The worker
must secure a lawyer. Where there is no provision for an attorney’s
fee the worker is in a weak position. Where the attorney’s fee is
allowed it savors somewhat of a contingent fee arrangement, because
the lawyer must win the case to get a fee. To bring the suit may
require court costs and if the employee does not have the money
for this the law is of little value to him.
The most interesting legislative effort has-been to create an ad­
ministrative official and place in his hands the duty of enforcing
wage payment laws. This plan is established by the statutes of the
following States :
California (Deering, G. L., California Cons., Supp. 1917-1919,
act 2142 V., sec. 7).
Nevada (Acts 1919, ch. 71, sec. 7; Statutes 1920-21? ch. 138).
Utah (Acts 1919, ch. 71, sec. 9).
Wyoming (C. S. (1920), sec. 264).
Massachusetts (G. L. (1921), ch. 149 et seq.).
Washington (Acts 1919, ch. 191).



In California and in Washington the administrative officials may
arbitrate seasonal labor wage claims and all of the officials have ac­
quired a sort of de facto jurisdiction to hear complaints and to ad­
just them partly by arbitration and partly by conciliation. But the
commissioner can not enforce a decision against an employer who
refuses to comply. In such case he must„proceed in court.
From the available experience the best plan clearly seems to con­
sist of these features: (1) A law requiring payment of wages
weekly, (2) a law making the nonpayment of wages a criminal
offense, (3) intrusting the enforcement of this law to an adminis­
trative official, generally called a labor commissioner. By making
the proceeding criminal instead of civil not only is the law itself
made more stringent but also a more summary process is availed
of and the problem of court costs is eliminated, because costs are not
required as a condition precedent to the institution of a criminal
complaint. To conduct criminal proceedings the laborer needs legal
assistance, but this the labor commissioner or an attorney on his
staff may furnish. This is the Massachusetts plan and apparently
it is more effective than any other plan in any comparable State.
In 1924 Louisiana adopted this plan and if it could be extended
throughout the States we should need to seek no further for a
Constitutional provisions, however, raise serious difficulties.
Wage payment laws have had to run the gauntlet of attack on vari­
ous grounds, some have been approved and others have been con­
demned. This is not the place for a dissertation on constitutional
law, but it is worth while to indicate the complexity of the law in
the hope that sooner or later an exhaustive study of this topic may
be made on which could be based a model law that would avoid the
constitutional objections voiced by American courts and that could
therefore be offered to the State legislatures for adoption.
Statutes applying to both individual and corporate employers but
extending only to certain classes or types of employers are attacked
as class legislation. They have been upheld in California, Indiana,
Kentucky, and Louisiana, but they have been declared void in Mary­
land, Mississippi^ Michigan, and Ohio.
Statutes applying only to corporate employers are attacked as class
legislation. Again we find a conflict of authority, but the decided
weight of authority is that they are valid. Statutes of this character
are apt to be held unconstitutional only if they fail to include all
corporate employers.
. „
Some statutes have failed because of defects in title and other
technical objections which are insignificant and so easily cured that
they need not detain us, but two further serious objections remain.
The first is the impairing of obligation of contracts. It is true that
if the law requires wages to be paid weekly the master and servant
may not agree that they shall be paid monthly, and this is an abridg­
ment of the “ freedom of contract.” A Pennsylvania decision (Com­
monwealth v. Isenberg (1895), 4 Pa. D. E. 579) holds that such a
statute substitutes a contract made by the legislature for a contract
freely entered into by the parties and is therefore void. This objec­
tion can be overcome only by the theory that such a statute is within
the police power, that the social interest in the prompt payment of
wages is so great that the State may intervene through legislation.



The final objection is that any attempt to make nonpayment o f
wages a crime is, in effect, to legalize imprisonment for debt. The
Massachusetts statute was never exposed to this danger, because the
Massachusetts constitution does not prohibit imprisonment for debt.
Most State constitutions, however, do contain the prohibition, unless
the debt is contracted in a fraudulent manner. On this point the de­
cisions are in conflict so that no clear rule can be laid down, but there
is reason to hope that by careful wording a statute may avoid the
imprisonment for debt difficulty by standing on the ground that any
general or continuing refusal to pay wages earned is in itself prima
facie evidence o f fraud.
We have earlier noticed that certain statutes providing civil pen­
alties have been held unconstitutional, as in Davidow v. Wadsworth
M fg.. Co. (211 Michigan, 90 (1920)), but we need not digress to
consider this series of cases, because, in our opinion, the plan o f
civil penalties is not as effective as can be devised; it certainly is
not so effective as the Massachusetts plan, and the best hope for
progress is to profit from the experience already available and to
concentrate on the plan that offers the best solution.
There is excellent reason to believe that by the exercise of caution
and foresight in draftsmanship the essentials of the so-called Massa­
chusetts plan can be embodied in a model statute that will pass any
constitutional challenge. Statutes requiring the periodic payment
of wages have come before the United States Supreme Court and
have been upheld. The reasoning of the Supreme Court, as ex­
pressed in St. Louis Ry. Co. v. Paul (173 U. S. 404), is in substance
“ the right to contract is not absolute, but may be subjected to the
restraints demanded by the safety and welfare of the State.” Our
economic concepts are constantly being broadened under the pres­
sure of modern conditions. The trend of public opinion generally
and of the courts as well is certain to be in the direction of recog­
nizing more clearly the direct interest of the State in promoting the
general welfare by requiring the prompt payment of wages.
Certain it is that the administrative plan offers an excellent solu­
tion for this particular aspect of our problem. A proper wage pay­
ment law, enforced by a labor commissioner, will afford a summary
and an inexpensive method whereby wage earners may enforce their
claims. In fact, the existence of such a law and of such an official is
apt to make the law self-executing; in States where it exists wages
will be paid, and it will not need to be invoked except in compara­
tively few instances. The solution is a sound one because it elimi­
nates those factors that heretofore* have prevented the law from be­
ing actively effective. Delay is avoided because the proceeding is
summary in nature, no prepayment of court costs is required, and
in most cases no employment of counsel is needed because the labor
commissioner himself or his deputy can furnish to the complainant
legal advice as to his rights and assist in drawing and presenting
the complaint.
Only one final point needs consideration. Because this admin­
istrative plan is so excellent there is danger in expecting it to per­
form more than it ought to perform. It will unquestionably suffice




for the great majority of matters within its jurisdiction, just as do
the industrial accident commissions, but there nevertheless will be
contested cases where, if justice is to be done, the wage earner must
be represented by counsel. There will be cases which for one reason
or another do not fall within the scope of the statute and there will
be cases within the statute where real issues of fact will arise, as
that the wage earner was absent from his place of work or per­
formed his duties in an improper manner so that nothing is owed
him. The labor commissioner can not be expected to run a general
law office, but at this juncture it seems that the legal aid organiza­
tions might well step in. The idea of cooperation between labor
commissioners and legal aid organizations in wage claims where the
claimant needs attorney’s services is precisely the same as the plan
of cooperation between industrial accident commissions and legal
aid organizations, already noted in Chapter IX , in compensation
cases where the injured workman needs legal services.
The first step toward insuring this cooperation has been taken.
It was discussed in 1924 at the annual meeting of the Association
of Governmental Labor Officials of the United States and Canada.
That body appointed a committee which is to confer with a like
committee already appointed by the National Association of Legal
Aid Organizations. In addition to devising the practical ways
and means for joint work under existing laws, it is to be hoped that
these committees, together with the American Bar Association, may
undertake the responsibility for drafting a general wage-payment
law that may extend the benefits of this plan, providing for the col­
lection of unpaid wages by administrative officials, to wage earners
throughout the Nation.

The defender in criminal cases is a lawyer who represents indigent
persons accused of crime. He is commonly called the “ public de­
fender,” but as his compensation may come either from the State
or from some private organization which employs him, we shall
use the phrase “ defender in criminal cases ” to denote all public or
private agents engaged in this work. The defender’s work is, in
reality, legal aid work in the criminal field. The dramatic features
of the defender have given his efforts a greater amount of publicity
than has fallen to the lot of the similar organizations in the civil
field, because the fact that the life and liberty of the client are at
stake makes the problem more engrossing.
While the defender in criminal cases has only recently become a
part of the administration of justice in this country the idea itself is
an old one. Spain had an officer corresponding to the defender in
the fifteenth century. To-day in the laws of Hungary, Argentina,
France, Belgium, Mexico, Norway, England, Denmark, and Germany
provision is made for such an official; in many of these countries
the plan has existed for some time. The idea was discussed early in
our own history and in the constitutions of practically all the States
56861°—26----- 1




we find established the first step toward the defender, and that is
the plan for assigned counsel appointed by the court to defend the
indigent accused^ which we have already noted in Chapter V.
Before discussing the arguments pro and con about the defender
in criminal cases it is helpful to get a concrete picture of the nature
of the defender’s work, such as is afforded by the case of State v.
Israel in which the public defender for Bridgeport played an in­
valuable part and which came before the Criminal Superior Court
for Fairfield County, Conn., on May 27,1924.
Israel was indicted for murder of a priest. The murder was an
atrocious one in which the assailant had shot his victim through
the head with a revolver. The shooting occurred on the streets of
Bridgeport about 7.45 p. m., and the murderer was seen by several
people to flee rapidly from the scene of the crime and disappear.
The police became very active, but for two weeks made no arrest.
Harold Israel, an ex-service man, about this time was out of work
and set out to walk to Norwalk. He had in his pocket a loaded
revolver which he had owned for a long time. He was picked up
by a policeman as a suspicious person. The police spent hours
questioning him as a suspect. At first he denied the crime, but
finally he signed a confession and was thereupon indicted by the
grand jury.
Mr. He Forrest, the public defender in Bridgeport, immediately
became interested in the case because of the youth of the prisoner,
his lack of friends, and the seriousness of the charge against him.
Mr. De Forrest appeared at the coroner’s hearing and was impressed
with the mental condition and evident distress of the accused. The
evidence adduced by the prosecution seemed without a flaw. Wit­
nesses identified the accused as the person whom they had seen
commit the crime. The deceased had been shot by a 32-caliber
revolver. The accused had such a revolver with four chambers
loaded and one chamber empty. Upon being questioned the accused
indicated where the missing cartridge could be found. A cartridge
was found there. An engineer formerly in the ballistic department
of the Remington Arms Co. after experiments reached the conclu­
sion that the fatal bullet had been fired through Israel’s revolver.
Yet the public defender was struck with the strangeness of the
case and became convinced that the man was innocent. This opinion
he stated in the public press and to the State’s attorney. His insist­
ence induced the State’s attorney to commence an independent inves­
tigation. The situation was remarkable because the net of evidence
secured by the police and others appeared sufficient to convict the
accused of first-degree murder.
The result of the investigation of the State’s attorney was first to
disprove the confession. It was clearly demonstrated that the men­
tality of the accused was defective and that he had completely suc­
cumbed to the stronger wills of the police. One by one the identi­
fication by various witnesses was proved to be mistaken. It was
shown that Israel could not possibly have been the man whom they
saw commit the murder. Finally a group of ballistic engineers made
an examination and came to the conclusion that the bullet causing




the death had not been fired from Israel’s revolver. This technical
evidence was so conclusive that the State’s attorney appeared in
court and nol-prossed the case against Israel.
When one considers the prominence of the deceased, the public
clamor over his death, the demand for vengeance, and the apparently
flawless case against the accused, there is reason to believe that an
innocent man would have paid the extreme penalty for a crime he did
not commit if he had been obliged to provide mid pay for his own
defense. He was saved by the lawyerlike work of the defender and
also, let us remember, by the cordial and thorough cooperation of
the prosecuting attorney.
In the last few years discussion as to the defender has advanced
from a theoretical basis to a practical one. We know how the plan
operates, and with that knowledge we have been able to brush away
many theoretical objections with which the proposal was originally
met. It should be kept in mind that there is little or no argument on
the proposition that a person accused of crime is entitled to be rep­
resented by counsel in his behalf. The question arises when it is
urged that special effort be made to supply legal assistance to poor
persons who can not pay for the services.
A survey of the literature dealing with the defender reveals 23
different objections. Many of these are simply variations of the
same theme, and by grouping all similar objections together we can
shorten our consideration of them.
One group of objections is based on the belief that the defender
is a person whose duty is to keep dishonest persons from going to
jail. It is contended that such a person will frustrate the efforts of
the district attorney; that the State should not champion criminals;
that it is illogical to have one official to put men in jail and another
to keep them out. In practice none of these fears has been realized.
What has happened is a revision of the ideas of many persons
regarding the real purpose of a criminal proceeding. We now see
clearly that it is as much the function of the State to protect inno­
cent persons from going to jail as it is to send guilty persons to
punishment. We know now that a criminal trial is not a contest in
which the State’s only interest is to secure a conviction, but a scien­
tific search for the truth in which the State may well engage im­
partially, and to that end may support both sides to insure impar­
Another group of objections alleges that the defender is unneces­
sary and superfluous. It is argued that the laws throw safeguards
around the person of the accused; that the judge and the district
attorney are bound to protect him. Practice has here disclosed the
fact that such safeguards in the law’ may be ineffective unless there is
some counsel to assert them. It also demonstrates that while in a
perfectly clear case the rights of the accused will be protected, yet
if a careful investigation of the law or facts is necessary to disclose
a proper defense and prepare it for trial the defendant must have
some one actively and affirmatively working in his behalf. I f he can
afford it, the defense is prepared by able counsel. The equal protec­
tion of the laws is not attained unless we provide legal assistance for
the man who can not afford it. Such a consideration should in




itself outweigh any objection based on the expense to the public of
such an official, and experience demonstrates that the cost is small.
It is much less than that of the district attorney. The presence of
the defender, furthermore, has the effect of winnowing out at an
early stage all cases except those where a trial is absolutely neces­
sary. This results in a substantial saving because the cost of a
criminal trial is about $200 a day.
Some of the objections are rooted in the fact that the objectors
believe the “ public defender ” is merely a new elective official who
will be subject to all the political difficulties, graft, and incompetence
which they regard as attaching to too many public officials. Presum­
ably such persons would not object to a defender’s office conducted
and supported as a private philanthropy, as is the Voluntary De­
fender’s Committee in New York. This clash of opinion as between
public and private agencies need not be considered here, because it
is discussed in detail in Chapter X V.
Again objection is raised on the score that we are too sentimental
with criminals. This objection begs the question because a man
accused of crime is not necessarily a criminal. I f he were, there
would be no need of the trial. It is for the purpose of determining
accurately this question of fact by means of an impartial trial that
the need for a defender arises.
There are many pronouncements in our State constitutions to the
effect that the accused in a criminal trial shall be entitled to counsel.
To make this constitutional guaranty actively effective in all cases
some definite provision must be made to secure counsel to those
persons who are too poor to employ counsel at their own expense.
In final analysis the argument about the defender must be resolved
by ascertaining whether any other adequate and satisfactory plan is
available for the protection of indigent defendants. In general the
laws provide three distinct remedies, viz: (a) Unpaid assigned
counsel, (&) paid assigned counsel, (c) a regular defender’s office.
Assignment of counsel for indigent defendants in capital cases is
provided for in 48 States. In felony cases the law provides for
the assignment of counsel in 35 States. In misdemeanor cases—
that is, when the crime charged is a minor one—provision for as­
signed counsel is made in 28 States.
i n general we may say that the plan of assigned counsel works in
capital cases. The dramatic situation and the attendant publicity
are sufficient to insure the lawyer’s best efforts, and in capital cases
the lawyer receives compensation for his work. As to felony cases
the efficacy of the plan is doubtful. In misdemeanor cases it appears
that counsel are seldom assigned in actual practice.
In considering how these laws operate we come next to the com­
pulsory provisions. It is clear that if the law makes the assign­
ment of counsel compulsory it is much more likely to be enforced
than if the words used are permissive only.
The statute contains the word “ must ” in 9 States. But of these
the reference is to capital cases in 4 States and of the remainder the
reference is to felony cases in 2 States. The provision is enforceable
at the request of the accused in 28 States and is enforceable in the
discretion of the court in 7 States.
It appears only too often that the accused may waive his right to
counsel; that if he does not demand his right at trial he will be




presumed to have waived it. Obviously in the case of an uneducated
person or a foreigner it frequently means that he will not know
enough to assert his right.
We must next consider how far the laws compensate the assigned
lawyers for their work. It is asking little to require a lawyer to
care for one case a year without compensation; but it is an imposition
to expect a man to give his professional services without compensa­
tion twenty or thirty times a year, and as we have noted in Chapter
V this is the point at which the assigned counsel plan is apt to break
Payment is allowed in 32 States, but of these 22 give compensa­
tion in murder cases only, so that the number of States that provide
compensation for assigned counsel in all cases is only 10.
A lump-sum payment is provided in 10 States, a per diem pay­
ment is provided in 3 States, payment is in the discretion of the court
in 6 States, and a salary is paid to the defender in 3 States.
The amount of compensation throws a curious light on the relative
value set by the States on such matters. In capital cases lump-sum
compensation ranges between $25 and $500, in felony cases between
$25 and $50, in capital cases per diem compensation averages about
$20 or $25, and in felony cases per diem compensation averages
about $10. .
The problem of incidental expenses is important. This includes
expert testimony, witness fees, and traveling expenses, as well as
those items of one sort or another which are essential to the proper
preparation of a case. A wealthy man in appearing before a criminal
court is able to pay for such aids. The Loeb-Leopold case recently
tried in Chicago illustrates how great may be the expense for evidence
given by medical specialists, detectives, and so on. Such evidence
was prepared and used both by the prosecution and the defense. The
question naturally arises as to how a poor man would fare if he was
involved in a case requiring such elaborate preparation. One is
tempted to inquire what might have been the outcome of State v.
Israel if no aid had been provided. Nearly every case, if it is to be
properly prepared and tried, involves some incidental expenses, but
in the great majority of States provision is not made for such
This is a substantial defect in the assigned counsel plan. It means
that either the attorney must pay the incidental expenses out of his
own pocket, which of course he can not afford to do and therefore
does not do, or the defendant must go to trial and do the best he can
in spite of an inadequate preparation of his case. In only eight
States are the expenses defrayed by the State, and in two of these
the expenses will be borne by the State only in capital cases. In
seven States the law expressly prohibits any reimbursement to the
lawyer for such incidental expenses. Not more than four or five
States have adequate provisions on this point, and in three of these
States the adequate provision exists as part of the public defender
Even where assigned counsel are provided the laws restrict their
work to certain courts; it is rarely the case that a law provides the
accused with an attorney to represent him from the very beginning
to the very end of the proceedings. Thus provision is made for the
appearance of counsel in the regular criminal trial courts in 34
States; but similar provisions for appearance in the magistrates’ or




other lower courts are found in only 8 States and for appearance in
appellate courts we find definite provisions in only 2 States.
Counsel are assigned to the indigent accused person in 4 States at
the time of his arrest, at the time of indictment in 12 States, at the
time of arraignment (when the prisoner pleads guilty or not guilty
to the indictment) in 12 States, and at the time of trial in 14 States.
The importance of the court in which the defender appears is
clearly shown by the services of such an officer. He is to expedite the
trial of criminal cases by helping to eliminate all those where there
is no need for a trial and by sorting out the cases where the person
is clearly not guilty, thus saving the county the expense of compli­
cated proceedings. It is obvious that the earlier in the case the
defense may be thoroughly studied by an impartial expert the sooner
will its validity be tested. I f the case has no merit, a plea of guilty
may be entered. I f the defense is sound, prosecution may be dropped.
This saves time and money. Another phase of the desirability of
early assignment of counsel grows out of the celebrated “ third
degree.” The police are often accused of resorting to “ third degree ”
methods to obtain a confession. Whether or not such practices are
often resorted to, it is certainly desirable that the accused should have
the benefit of counsel’s advice and protection at every stage in the
Finally we must consider who selects the lawyer for the accused
and who determines whether the accused is entitled to any aid of this
The selection of the lawyer for the defense may or may not be a
valuable asset in the hands of the defense. The law in three States
allows the defendant to make a selection. In the other States the se­
lection is in the hands of the court. The public defender plan has
been objected to on the ground that it gives no freedom of choice to
the defendant as to who shall represent him, but this is an objection
as well to the assigned counsel plan as it exists in most States. It is
urged that if a man of means is arrested and comes into court he may
secure the ablest lawyers to represent him. Equal protection of the
laws, it is claimed, requires that the indigent accused should have
the same right and that he should not be forced to a trial involving
his life or liberty with only the services of some assigned lawyer
whom he does not want. The practical operation of the assigned
counsel system in many States gives some ground for such an objec­
tion. The lawyers selected are apt to be of two sorts, either young
and inexperienced men who wish to gain experience at the expense of
the client, or older men who are present in the court room expressly
for the purpose of receiving these appointments. Neither group
represents the best element at the bar and neither is able to afford
the accused a first-class defense. The more able lawyers, whether in
civil or criminal practice, are too busy to spare the time in such com­
paratively unremunerative work, and the courts rather hesitate to
select the better lawyers because it seems like an imposition.
The objection^ when directed against the defender plan, we are in­
clined to think is not of great practical importance. The State can
not afford unlimited aid to every defendant; if it makes some
efficient provision in his behalf, its duty is performed. We must
remember that the complainant in a criminal case, for example, the




man who has been robbed and who has sworn out the warrant against
the defendant, has no choice of attorneys; at the trial he is represented
by the district attorney whether he happens to like the district at­
torney or not. Furthermore, the public defender is not forced on the
defendant, who is perfectly free to be represented by any other law­
yer if he can get one. I f he has a friend at the bar and the friend is
willing to serve, then the public defender will not interfere or inject
himself into the case in any way.
To determine whether a defendant is so poor as to be entitled to
have counsel assigned to him is customarily within the discretion of
the court. In California the test is whether the defendant is worth
less than $100, and in 41 States the decision is not fixed by any defi­
nite amount, but is left entirely to the court. There is little reason
to believe that the courts are imposed on in this particular, because,
as the assignment plan works to-day, a defendant will procure his
own attorney if he can possibly do so. There is more danger of
imposition in connection with the defender plan, because as the de­
fender is paid a salary he can afford to work hard on the cases com­
mitted to his care, and in the steady course of his work he is apt to
become as highly proficient as any lawyer of the criminal bar. It is
easy under such circumstances to conceive of persons who would
sham poverty in order to secure his services without cost. The best
check will undoubtedly be to permit the defender himself, after
investigation, to determine whether the defendant is properly en­
titled to assistance and to report his finding to the court. The
problem is only a minor one in anjr event. It is the same as that
considered in Chapter IV in connection with in forma pauperis pro­
cedure, and here, as there, the sound solution seems to be to place the
burden of this preliminary inquiry into the applicant’s economic
status on an administrative official whose finding is subject to con­
trol by the court but who can in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred
perform the task in a perfectly satisfactory manner, so that the
burden is not thrust on the courts.
Viewing the country as.a whole to determine how far the adminis­
tration of justice is empowered and equipped to provide adequate
protection for poor persons accused of crime we find that the stat­
utes do not afford any thorough and comprehensive plan. The situ­
ation is not unlike that disclosed in Chapter IV when we examined
the laws regulating the various procedures designed to enable poor
persons to sue without prepayment of costs. The position o f the
man of no financial resources before the law has received insufficient
attention, with the result that our statutes represent a hodgepodge
of good intentions which fall short of the mark because they are
built on false premises or because of inherent limitations that make
them ineffective in actual practice. Summarizing the facts con­
tained in the preceding pages of this chapter, we may say that the
assignment plan exists in its best form and operates most success­
fully in capital cases. Also, in noncapital cases when assigned coun­
sel are paid the plan does serve to provide adequate representation
for the defense, although, as we shall try to indicate later, this is
accomplished in an unnecessarily expensive and cumbersome manner.
But in at least 35 States the indigent defendant, unless he is charged
with murder, must rely on unpaid assigned counsel or go without
any representation at all.




It is this situation that has brought about the various recent ex­
periments which we have called “ the defender in criminal cases.”
These experiments have been conducted along different lines and
through different types of organizations. The least formal is that
of the Chicago Bar Association Committee. Next we find public
defenders definitely established in certain cities, as in Omaha, Minne­
apolis, San Francisco. Variations of this municipal plan exist in
connection with the inferior courts in Los Angeles and in Cleve­
land. In Connecticut the public defenders are county officers ap­
pointed by the superior court judges. Finally, there are the two
reat defender organizations, the public defender of Los Angeles
ounty and the Voluntary Defenders Committee in New York City.
The Chicago Bar Association Committee has a chairman and a
secretary. It is composed of practicing attorneys who are willing
to devote a certain amount o f their time to this work. Cases are
referred from the jail or from some prison welfare association.
The application for assistance comes in the form of a request to the
secretary or chairman of the committee. The chairman then assigns
some member of the committee to handle the case and, if he wishes
it, arranges for the assignment of two law students of the North­
western University Law School as assistants. These law students
look up the witnesses, interview the prisoner, do all sorts of inves­
tigating work, and under the direction of the older lawyers pre­
pare the case for trial. The lawyer tries the case with the younger
men sitting in as juniors. This plan may develop into a definite de­
fender organization; in its present form it is like the assignment
plans already discussed except that it is controlled by the bar asso­
ciation instead of the courts; and with the interesting variation that
it utilizes the services of law students who are willing to do much of
the time-consuming work without pay.
As an illustration of the Connecticut plan we may take the public
defender in Hartford. Each year the judges of the county appoint
a defender from among the practicing attorneys. The work does
not take all of the lawyer’s time and he is entitled to continue his
private practice. There are four terms of court each year. The
method of operation, for example, in the June term, is as follows:
About May 1 the defender obtams from the sheriff the names of all
prisoners who require his services. He does not take bail cases except
under unusual circumstances because in general prisoners able to
obtain bail are also able to employ counsel. This supplies a number of
cases for the defender. Others come in afterwards, as where the
prisoner expected private counsel to be paid by friends and was dis­
appointed, or where the arrest has been made after May 1 but before
the term of court.
The first step is to interview each of these prisoners and endeavor
to get the facts in his case. The public defender may then subpoena
witnesses, secure the services of a detective, and employ all necessary
devices to secure the correct information and proof. The bills for
such incidental expenses are submitted at the end of the month,
approved by the court, and paid by the county.
In this way the defender becomes conversant with the facts in
each case. The next step is to confer with the defendant and de­
cide what is to be done. There are three classes of cases—those





where the accused is obviously innocent, those where he is obviously
guilty, and those where there is doubt. In the first class the matter
is taken up at once with the district attorney and the proof is sub­
mitted frankly to him. Upon agreement of counsel the court re­
leases the prisoner. In the second class of cases the prisoner is
urged to plead guilty. I f he refuses, he is at all events entitled to
a fair trial, so that what he regards as the merits of his case may be
fairly heard, and this the defender affords him. In the doubtful
cases the defender frequently goes to the prosecutor, lays his cards
on the table and the district attorney does the same. I f there is
still doubt, the case must be tried. But as a practical matter the
result of this procedure is that in most cases there is no need for
trial. It is here that the economy of the defender’s office makes
itself manifest.
This preliminary work takes up the second and third weeks in
May. On the 1st of June the trials begin and the cases thereupon
take their regular course.
The Hartford defender is on a salary and handles no criminal
cases at all in his private practice. He regards the work as a defi­
nite professional responsibility just like any other part of his law
The defenders in Minneapolis and Omaha perform their work in
a manner quite similar to that already described. It should be
pointed out, however, that in Omaha the public defender is elected.
The public defender for Los Angeles County, Calif., established
in January, 1914, was the first office of its kind in this country and
attracted a great deal of attention. Its office force consists of the
defender and five deputies. Its existence is provided for by the
county charter. It handles only cases in the superior court. The
office is subject to civil service regulations and has been filled by
men of the highest standing. Its work is not dissimilar to that de­
scribed in Hartford, but it is on a much larger scale. The appli­
cants for aid are interviewed, evidence is secured as to their guilt
or innocence, efforts are made to adjust the matter with the dis­
trict attorney, and if all else fails the case is tried. One of the
phases of the work of this office is to care for civil cases, in which
it is exactly like a legal aid society. The valuable reports of this
office served to make the public defender known throughout the
country, and supply many of the figures which are set forth later
in this chapter.
The New York Voluntary Defenders Committee is the best ex­
ample of a private organization operating in the field. In 1914 the
Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York
County Lawyers’ Association, each appointed a committee to report
upon “ the necessity and advisability of creating the office of public
defender in New York City.” The report was against a public but
in favor of a private defender. The organization of the Voluntary
Defenders Committee followed. Court work was initiated in April,
1917. The organization was merged with the New York Legal Aid
Society in 1919.
The voluntary defender’s office staff consists of two lawyers, five
investigators, and a clerk. While the actual handling of the work
follows the same general channels as those described above, there




are certain distinctive features here. In the first place the pre­
liminary interview with the prisoner is by an investigator instead
of by an attorney. The investigating department then proceeds to
gather data as to the history of the defendant, the faets of the case,
and any other matters which appear pertinent. When this prepa­
ration has been completed the attorney that will try the case has
an interview with the accused and advises him as to the proper
course to pursue.
The defenders thus far considered confine their work almost ex­
clusively to cases in the superior courts. As to the work in the
lower courts we have two examples. The most recent one is afforded
in the city of Cleveland. The attorney for the Legal Aid Society
of Cleveland, writing on August 13, 1924, describes the new project
as follows:
Due to very bad conditions existing in the police court, in which ignorant
people are being subjected to aU sorts of crooked practices, the welfare fed­
eration and the community fund, at the request o f our trustees, made a special
appropriation to enable us to add another attorney to our force. He will be
assigned to the police court and will interview these people and endeavor to
protect them from many of the evils and dangers to which they have been
subject in the misdemeanor cases. This project has the unqualified support
of all the judges of the municipal court, particularly Chief Justice Dempsey.
We believe that it holds great possibilities for good.

The other example is of longer standing and is the city police court
defender in Los Angeles, whose office was created by ordinance
November 18, 1915. It was established to provide a public defender
in the city’s police court and to furnish with legal assistance all
prisoners held in the city jail who are financially unable to employ
attorneys. Actual work was begun on February 14, 1916, with one
lawyer and one stenographer. Quarters were assigned near the court
so as to enable the defender to interview relatives and friends of
prisoners and to furnish all desired information about the status of
police-court trials, past, present, and future. A second lawyer was
later added because of the pressure of work. Both spend the early
part of the morning in the office attending to the routine, the forenoon
in the city jail interviewing prisoners, and the afternoon in the trial
of cases. This is possible because the judges hear the noncontested
cases in the morning. The steady growth of the work led to the ap­
pointment of a woman assistant whose duties consist of acting as
counsel for women prisoners and appearing for them in the separate
court which is provided for the hearing of charges involving sexual
The jurisdiction of the Los Angeles police court includes such mat­
ters as larceny, vagrancy, disturbing the peace, visiting lotteries, em­
bezzlement, fictitious checks, indecent exposure, carrying concealed
weapons, addiction to drugs, and prostitution. The most serious
offenses within its jurisdiction are criminal libel and assault and
The defendants in all cases of felonies (State’s prison offenses),
which are not triable in the police court, are transferred to the county
jail, where after indictment or after having been given a preliminary
examination they are held for trial in the superior court. When
they appear in the superior court they may have the county public
defender take up their cases.




This rather extended statement of the nature and scope of the Los
Angeles police court defender’s work is necessary because it is the
best illustration of such work in the lower courts, and there is a
difference of opinion as to whether defenders are needed in these
lower courts. The Los Angeles police court defender, writing on
this subject in March, 1923, urges the need for his type of office on
the ground that the police courts are trial courts although n*ot courts
of record, and the verdict of such a court is quite as effective against
the prisoner as a verdict of a superior court. In California there is
no criminal offense triable at all in the police court in which the
defendant is not entitled to a jury trial. In fact, he must specifically
waive his right of trial by jury, and this waiver must be concurred in
by the prosecutor. The seriousness of the punishments and the num­
ber of offenses triable both constitute a valid reason for the existence
of some person to aid in weeding out cases which need not be tried, in
saving the city the expense of unnecessary trials, and in seeing that
the defendant has a fair presentation of his rights. The Los Angeles
police court defender has made an excellent record, from which it
would appear that in cities where the police court has an important
criminal jurisdiction the establishment of the defender’s office may
well be worth while.
As no complete statement of the amount of work performed by the
defenders has ever appeared in print, it is important to state here as
fully and as accurately as circumstances permit the number of cases
in which the defenders have acted as counsel for impoverished de­
fendants. There are 12 defenders’ offices in the United States at
this time. As to three—Chicago, Memphis, and Norfolk—no rec­
ords are available. Of the remaining nine, three—Bridgeport, New
Haven, and Omaha—have never tabulated their statistics, but from
their individual case records it has been possible to estimate the
average number of cases received from year to year. The followingtable gives all the detailed figures for the years 1920 to 1923, inclusive.
Prior to 1920 only five organizations existed, and their records are as
follows: The Los Angeles County public dexender received 562 cases
in 1915, 402 in 1916, 463 in 1917, 495 in 1918, and 535 in 1919. The
New York Voluntary Defenders Committee (working in Manhattan)
received 484 cases in 1917, 533 in 1918, and 697 in 1919. The Hart­
ford public defender received 90 cases in 1917, 122 in 1918, and 104
in 1919. The Minneapolis public defender received 118 cases in 1918
and 189 in 1919. From 1916 to 1919 the work of the Los Angeles
police court defender aggregated 9,010 cases.
Adding these figures to those in the following table, we find that
the total work already performed by the defenders’ offices in the
United States is greater in extent than most persons realize. The
totals for the respective organizations from their commencing work
through the year 1923 are these: Los Angeles County public de­
fender, 5,638; New York Voluntary Defenders Committee, 3,865;
Hartford, 710; Minneapolis, 1,288; San Francisco, 2,232; Los Angeles
police court defender, 18,606; Omaha, 900; Bridgeport, 1,200; and
New Haven, 4,500. From these records which understate rather than
overstate the truth we learn what has already been accomplished, and
by estimating the 1924 volume of work at about 6,000 cases it is fair
to state that the defenders’ offices have already extended their assist­
ance to approximately 45,000 persons in criminal cases.




N U M B E R O F C A S E S H A N D L E D B Y D E F E N D E R S * O F F IC E S , 1 9 2 0 T O 1 923

Delenders’ office
Los Angfilfia Hminty pnhlin dpffvndp.r
Los Angeles police court public d efen der.. .
New Y ork (M an h attan )__________________
M inneapolis_______________________________
San Francisco_____________________________
Om aha____________________________________
Bridgeport_____________ ___________________
New H aven_______________________________

3, 608

T o ta l........................................................






1, 989

2 ,504

1, 495
1, 019

5, 939

5, 107



1 Average per annum for 6 years, 1918 to 1923.

The following table serves in a rough way to indicate the extent
of the work by comparing the number of cases handled by each office
with the population of the community served by such office:
C A S E S H A N D L E D B Y D E F E N D E R S ’ O F F IC E S P E R

C ity

1 0 0 ,0 0 0 P O P U L A T IO N *

Population, 1920 handled, 1923

handled per

100,000 popu­

Los Angeles________________________________
New Y ork (M an h attan )___________________
H artford___________________________________
M inneapolis_______________________________
San Francisco_____________________________
Om aha_____________________________________
B ridgeport_________________________________
New H a v e n .._____________________________
T otal_______________________________

2, 284,


1, 019


4, 791, 000

5, 631



i The figures are out of proportion because N ew Y ork has the assigned counsel plan and the courts assign
m any cases to individual attorneys and not to the defender’s committee.

The best way to appraise the work of the various defenders is
by comparing it with the work of assigned counsel so far as such
records are available. Through such records we can weigh the
merits of the defender plan as contrasted with the assigned counsel
plan and thus inductively arrive at an opinion concerning the de­
fender that is far more interesting and far more likely to be right
than any metaphysical balancing of the theoretical arguments pro
and con.
We have earlier seen that we might divide the States into three
groups according to the provision that they make for providing
counsel to indigent persons arraigned on a serious criminal charge.
In the first group are States, such as Massachusetts, which, except
in capital cases, make no provision whatsoever for assigning counsel.
Between such a system and the public defender plan no statistical
comparison is possible and none is needed. Something is always
better than nothing, and the defender plan is obviously a method
of some merit in affording counsel to indigent defendants whereas
the Massachusetts situation reveals no plan or method whatsoever.




The second group of States consists of those which assign counsel
in criminal cases but which provide no compensation for such as­
signed lawyers and which further make no provision for the ex­
penses incidental to the preparation of the case. It so happens
that California fell in this group prior to 1914 so that we can make
a comparison between the work of unpaid assigned counsel in Los
Angeles in 1913 and the work of the public defender in Los Angeles
in 1914. A third column of figures showing the work of the paid
private attorneys in 1914 is also submitted. The following table
merits careful examination because it is based on official court records
compiled by Walton J. Wood, the first public defender and now
a judge of the superior court in Los Angeles, and because it makes
possible a contrast between the two systems which is essentially fair
because all the surrounding circumstances were the same.


T otal number of cases received___ __________
Pleas of gu ilty_______________________________
Per cent of cases in which pleas of guilty
were entered_______________________________
Number of such cases in which probation was
Per cent of such cases in which probation was
Num ber of trials_____________________________
Per cent of cases that went to trial__________
Verdicts o f not guilty or disagreements_____
Per cent of trials in which verdict of not
guilty was rendered or ju ry d is a g re e d ____

counsel serv­
ing in 1913

in 1914

Attorneys in
private prac­
tice retained
b y defend­
ants in 1914




61. 7

70. 4

48. 6




27. 0
26. 1

33. 5
22. 3

30. 0
28. 6

20. 0

34. 5

36. 7

The difference between the number of cases handled by the assigned
attorneys in 1913 and the cases handled by the public defender in
1914 can not be accounted for by the growth of population. It is
due to the fact that the lawyers who commonly took the assign­
ments were of such a low grade that the defendants avoided them
whenever it was possible. These men hung about the jails and
solicited business, but with the advent of the public defender they
have almost entirely disappeared.
It will be noted that a larger percentage of the defendants repre­
sented by the public defender pleaded guilty than was the case with
the assigned attorneys. This has avoided unnecessary trials and has
resulted in a saving of expense to the county. This was not obtained
by sacrificing the defendant’s rights because it also appears that a
larger percentage of the defendants represented by the public de­
fender were acquitted or placed on probation than of the defendants
represented by the assigned attorneys. The public defender ac­
complished nearly the same results on behalf of his clients as the
paid attorneys in private practice, the former securing probation
for a slightly larger percentage, and the paid attorneys in private
practice securing a slightly larger percentage of acquittals.




Because when the public defender is advocated the objection of ex­
pense is always raised, we have consistently tried to point out the
economy which attends the defender’s office due to the saving of the
wasteful expense of unnecessary trials. This saving goes even
further, *and applies to the cases that are tried. The defender
endeavors to conduct his cases according to the substantial merit of
his defense and without constantly invoking the technicalities and
subtleties with which unfortunately our criminal procedure abounds.
To the foregoing table giving comparative results of work in Los
Angeles we may add the following supplementary figures. The
private attorneys in 1914 filed demurrers or motions to set aside the
indictment in 61 instances, in only 4 of which were the motions
sustained; the public defender filed only 2 such motions and was
vindicated in both. The private attorneys filed 27 motions for new
trials and one such motion was granted; the public defender filed 6
motions for new trials, none ox which was allowed. The private
attorneys took 27 appeals and the public defender 3.
Even in the trials themselves time is saved, because the public
defender is interested only in matters of substance, and because it is
feasible for the prosecutor and defender to agree on certain aspects
of the case and to enter into stipulations which shorten the course
of the trial. The following table was prepared by Mr. Wood and
its significance lies in the feet that if a public defender’s office can
save approximately half a day on each trial that is a saving to the
county of $100, so that in the course of a year’s trials the defender’s
office goes a long way toward paying for its own expense.



N um ber o f court days occupied b y trials______
Average tim e for each trial___ _________________
Average tim e on each trial saved b y public

Attorneys in pri­
vate practice paid
b y defendants in

239 days for
147 trials.
1.626 days____

Public defender in

59 days for 58
1.017 days.
0.609 day.

In the presentation of figures there is always danger that impor­
tant aspects of the work which can not be stated statistically may be
overlooked. It is well therefore to note at this point that in Los
Angeles the public defender endeavors to help those persons who
come into his charge by trying to convince them that honesty is the
best policy and by cooperating with them in their effort to get a job
and go straight. The most important consideration of all has already
been pointed out, but it merits repetition. The man who has been
represented by the public defender knows that he has received honest
advice and that he has had a fair trial. The influence of this object
lesson on him and his family and his circle of friends is to convince
them that our legal institutions are fair and that under the law
every man, even the poorest, not only is entitled to receive but actu­
ally does receive a square deal.
There remains for our consideration the small group of States
that assign counsel and pay them, not only in capital offenses but in




all cases involving serious crimes and which are triable in the court
of general criminal jurisdiction. It is not possible to compare the
work of paid assigned counsel with the work of the defender, be­
cause the two systems do not exist side by side in the same jurisdic­
tion nor has one been supplanted by the other, as was the case in Los
Angeles. We can, however, test the work of the paid assigned coun­
sel by comparing it with the work of the privately retained and pri­
vately paid attorneys. The Cleveland survey of criminal justice,
made in 1922,1 affords valuable statistics on this point.
The first task of the defendant’s attorney is to get the case dis­
missed in some way, if he can, as by nolle pros, quashing the indict­
ment, lack of prosecution, and so on. Failing in this disposition,
counsel must then either have his client plead guilty or try the case.
The remaining clients go to trial. After defendants have been sen­
tenced there is still one more thing for counsel to do, and that is to
try to secure a suspension of sentence. The figures for Cuyahoga
County, Ohio, in which Cleveland is situated, are as follows:
b y paid
(per cent)


Nol-prossed and other dispositions______________________
Clients pleaded guilty____________________________________
Result o f trial:
G u ilty_________________________________________ _____
N ot gu ilty___________________________________________
Sentence suspended______________________________________
Sentence executed________________________________ _______

b y counsel '
(per cent)






These figures indicate that the paid assigned counsel did their
work reasonably well. The results obtained by them were a little
less favorable to the defendants than those obtained by privately
paid counsel, as one would naturally expect, but the discrepancy is
too small to warrant any assumption that the assigned counsel were
remiss or delinquent in their duties. We concur with the conclu­
sion expressed in the report of the Cleveland survey that the system
of paid assigned counsel is a reasonably satisfactory method of
guaranteeing a fair trial to those poor persons who can not afford
to retain counsel in their own behalf.
The cardinal point which we have sought to stress in this chapter
is that the administration of justice must make some provision for
poor persons accused of serious crimes. I f all the States provided
aid assigned counsel, this chapter need never have been written.
iut most of the States either assign counsel without pay, which we
consider an inadequate plan, or make no provision at all for the
general run of cases. Most of the States should undertake reforms
m this field, and the best solution, we consider, is the public defender.
The superiority of the defender plan over the paid assigned coun­
sel plan is not because it affords better protection to innocent defend'
ants. We can not prove that and therefore do not argue it. We


1 C lev elan d
7 2 9 pp.

F ou n d a tion ,

C rim in al

J u s tice


C levelan d .

C levelan d ,


x x v ii,




do believe, however, that the defender plan serves the defendant
just as well as the paid assigned counsel plan and that it is inher­
ently a more efficient and more economical method for getting the
necessary work done.
In these days of high costs efficiency of organization which pro­
duces economy is worth while. It is logical to suppose that where
all the cases of poor persons are centralized in one office, instead of
being spread around m a large number of offices, there is a resulting
efficiency which reduces cost. Certain figures confirm this. In 1920
the assigned counsel in Cleveland handled 528 cases at a cost to the
county treasury of $32,500. For several years the Los Angeles public
defender has had about as many criminal cases (522 in 1917), and
has, in addition, cared for several thousand civil cases (8,000 in
1916), at a cost to the county treasury of from $20,000 to $25,000.
The efficiency of the defender plan also results from the concen­
tration of responsibility in one office. A routine is developed, the
staff becomes expert, and there is rapidly worked out a special tech­
nique for the prompt dispatch of business. One further gain results
from this concentration, and that is that a fund of information is
made available from which the defender’s office may study defects in
the law and in the machinery of justice and thus be in a position to
recommend remedial legislation. In the field of law there is entirely
too little of this sort of constructive work, of applying the scientific
method of study to the judicial machinery, and of using the avail­
able experience for the advancement of necessary reforms. It was
this final reason which led the editors of the survey of the criminal
courts in Cleveland to conclude that, while the system of paid as­
signed counsel was a proper method, the defender plan carried with
it many substantial collateral advantages and was entitled to be re­
garded as the best plan thus far devised in the United States for
guaranteeing the equal protection of the laws to poor persons in
criminal cases.
A final question for brief consideration is whether the public
defender or the private defender is the better type of organization
in the more densely populated communities where some definite form
of organization is required. It is doubtful if any absolute answer
can be given. Different plans work well in different communities.
In California, where the civil service is well established, the public
defender may well be selected by that method and prove entirely
satisfactory. In Connecticut, where the judiciary appoints the
defender, excellent results are achieved. In New York City, where
the bar association committees expressed a fear of political interfer­
ence, a privately maintained organization is in successful operation.
Each of these systems works because of the personnel. There are
two factors in the work—office system and personnel. The office
system may well become a matter of routine and may be transmitted
by written forms and records. Personnel is a different problem.
Success does not depend on routine. The individuals chosen to
do the work, from the “
chief counsel to the most lowly member of
the staff, must have something more than a perfunctory interest in
the work. The office force must be imbued with an intense desire to
accomplish substantial justice in every case and must be willing to
devote its best individual endeavors to that end. It is here that
the public defender plan may have difficulty. The public tenure is




more or less uncertain. The continuity of the work may be inter­
rupted by elections. Esprit de corps is destroyed if positions are
filled not by merit but by political considerations. Evidence that
this difficulty is real and not fanciful is afforded by the fact that an
excellent public defender organization in Portland, Oreg., was de­
stroyed by political interference in 1917 and has never since been
The public defender plan, on the other hand, possesses the un­
doubted advantages that flow from the fact that the position is
official and from its financial support which is definite and assured
in contrast to the support of the private organization which is
voluntary, more or less fluctuating, and therefore uncertain. The
general tendency undoubtedly will be to establish defender’s offices
on a public basis, and this may be done with entire safety if there can
be provided some guaranty against political interference, which
destroys leadership and reduces the office to the level of a spiritless
routine. The best available guaranty seems to be the alert watch­
fulness of local bar association committees. .Because the defender in
criminal cases is a necessary part of the administration of justice
under modern conditions the task of maintaining a supervision
over the work is properly one of the professional responsibilities
of the organized bar. It is the same responsibility which the bar
owes and is beginning to assume toward the legal aid organizations,
and in Chapter X V III we shall discuss in further detail the neces­
sity and importance of this relationship.
In the future there is reason to hope that the defender plan may
be extended into all our larger cities. We have had enough experi­
ence to dispel the bugaboos that were raised immediately after the
establishment of the Los Angeles public defender in 1914. The
notion that if we had a defender as well as a prosecutor the result
would be a sort of stalemate in which each could frustrate the other
has been exploded. In sharp contrast we find the district attorney
and the defender working harmoniously together in sincere coopera­
tion for the advancement of justice. It is no accident that most of
the defender organizations have been established at the instance of
judges and lawyers familiar with the criminal law, and the best
proof of the essential merit of the defenders’ work is that wherever it
exists it is supported and commended by the district attorney’s
office and by the judges of the criminal courts.
For the smaller communities, where the volume of cases needing
attention is too small to warrant the establishment of a definite office,
the system of assigned counsel can be made entirely adequate. Such
assigned counsel should be paid fair compensation and should be
reimbursed for the necessary incidental expenses of the case. I f
the assignments were made to a committee of the local bar asso­
ciation (following in a general way the idea developed in Chicago),
which would guarantee to make available for such assignments the
services of properly qualified and well-trained lawyers of good
professional repute, the evils which tend to creep into the assign­
ment system could be avoided.
In the field of the criminal law there is enough available experi­
ence to demonstrate the ways and means whereby we can assure to
56861°— 26------5




the man of limited means that equal protection of the laws to which
he is entitled as a matter of right and by constitutional guaranty.
All that is needed is some agency, available to him without cost,
that can make the ample provisions of the law actively effective in
his behalf. For this particular aspect of our problem the system of
paid assigned counsel under bar association control in the smaller
communities plus a public or private defender organization super­
vised by the bar association in the larger cities would furnish a com­
plete, thorough, and efficient solution.

In the preceding chapters we have considered several different
types of remedial agencies that could be utilized in adapting our
administration of justice to the needs of the modern community.
We have seen that in various States experiments designed to im­
prove the position of the poor before the law have been made and
that most of these experiments have met with substantial success.
While each remedial agency was constructed to meet some particular
aspect of the general problem to which this article is addressed,
we have advanced far enough to see that all these agencies, if
combined and universally made a part of the administration of
justice in this country, would provide definite and tried methods
whereby the laws could be made actively effective in a large major­
ity of the cases in which wage earners and all persons of limited
means are interested. For the general run of claims under $50, the
small claims courts afford a speedy and inexpensive procedure; the
conciliation tribunals are still in the experimental stage, but they may
become the ideal counterparts of the small claims courts in the more
sparsely populated districts. In the field of work accidents the
industrial accident commissions with their auxiliary medical and in­
spection staffs unquestionably serve to bring justice to the injured
workman and his dependents in at least nine cases out of ten through
the method of administrative justice which is prompt and free from
expense. Various administrative officials, operating as a part of the
executive arm of the Government, give legal advice and assistance
in matters of insurance, purchases of securities, small loans, and most
important in the collection of wages. In criminal matters where the
problem is to supply the services of attorneys to poor persons accused
of crime the public defender plan together with the paid assigned
counsel plan constitute a practical answer.
For the legal protection of the wage earner we have been trying
to devise a series or chain of agencies and methods that would re'move the handicaps of delay, court costs, and the expense of counsel
which have heretofore blocked his ready access to the courts of
justice and that chain is now complete except for one vital link.
Even while stressing the efficacy of these remedial agencies it has
been necessary on several occasions to sound a note of caution.
There are disputed industrial accident cases where the employee
needs representation by counsel, and there are wage claims which a
labor commissioner for one reason or another can not collect, so
that the wage earner must seek the assistance of a lawyer. As to



the vast number of miscellaneous types of claims and cases within
the field of the civil law—all cases of debts, contracts, and many
claims beyond the jurisdiction of the small claims courts, all acci­
dents not within the scope of the compensation acts, all domestic
relations difficulties such as divorce, judicial separation, custody and
Guardianship of minors, partnership disputes, bankruptcy, claims
p o p in g out of insurance, real Estate titles and mortgages, the adim tistration of the estates of deceased persons, disputes concern­
ing the ownership, conversion, or loss of personal property—the
only remedy that is available is through litigation in the courts and
for that litigation the services of an attorney are indispensable.
Add to this the need for the services of an attorney in drawing con­
tracts and other documents and in advising clients as to their legal
rights and what course of action they should pursue, and it is ap­
parent that to complete our plan for equalizing the practical ad­
ministration of the laws under modern conditions there must be
provided some definite arrangement whereby the services of attor­
neys may be available to wage earners and others who by reason
of inadequate financial resources are unable to secure the services of
counsel at their own expense.
Our experience in America indicates quite conclusively that the
final agency needed to round out and supplement the services of all
the others is to be found in what is called the legal aid organization.
In the structure or program that we are trying to piece together
by drawing on the sum total of all our experience in order to present
a complete plan whereby the administration of justice may be
brought abreast of the needs and demands of our existing industrial
urban society, it is clear that the heaviest load, the most extended
responsibility, and in a sense the final responsibility must be borne
by these legal aid organizations. The part assigned to them is so
important that the remaining seven chapters will be devoted to a
critical analysis of their work and possibilities for development and
to a narration of their origin and growth up to the present time.
The conditions that operated to bring about the establishment of
the first legal aid society were precisely the same as those which
caused the maladjustments in the administration* of justice itself,
and which were described in the opening pages of this article. In
short, they were not legal causes per se but the rapid social and
economic changes that transfigured the whole tenor and complexion
of American life. Large numbers of immigrants, finding that the
free lands suitable for agriculture were largely appropriated, re­
mained in the cities and swelled the fast-growing ranks of the wage
earners so that the populations of our industrial and commercial
centers grew by leaps and bounds. In 1875 New York became a
city of a million inhabitants and it is not a mere coincidence that
the first legal aid organization came into being in New York in
In that year a group of lawyers and laymen who were especially
interested in German immigrants, realizing the frauds and imposi­
tions of which immigrants were the victims and which could be
redressed only through legal action, appointed a special committee
ro study the situation, and from the committee arose the suggestion
for the establishment of a regular association to handle the problems.




Officers were secured and a salaried attorney installed who devoted
a portion of his time to the work. The initial year showed 212 cases
handled, approximately $1,000 collected for clients, and an expense
of $1,000. The organization was incorporated on March 8, 1876, a
group of 12 directors chosen, and the first office was located* at 39
Nassau Street. The first year closed with a deficit of $250, which
was made good by a contribution from the German society. This
condition of a deficit continued from year to year for the first 10
years and was annually defrayed by the German society. At th^
end of these first 10 years the organization had cared for 23,051
applications and had recovered $105,729 for its clients. More than
half of these collections were for unpaid wages.
This New York organization was efficient and businesslike, keep­
ing accurate records of its work and its finances, which is especially
fortunate because this office was destined to be the prototype of most
of the legal aid organizations subsequently established. But during
these first 10 years it was not and did not pretend to be a legal aid
organization in the modern meaning of that phrase because it was
not designed to offer legal assistance to all persons but only to
German immigrants who needed help. It was supported not by the
public generally but by the membership of the German society. It
was limited in its scope and vision; nevertheless it contained an idea
in embryo that was shortly to bear fruit.
In 1886 in Chicago the Protective Agency for Women and Girls
came into existence, functioning in the specific field indicated by the
name. In 1888 the Bureau of Justice, fostered by the Ethical Cul­
ture Society in Chicago, also made its appearance. The first of these
organizations was intended for the protection of young girls from
the seductions and debaucheries under the guise of proffered em­
ployment which had aroused the women of the city. The Bureau of
Justice, however, had a much broader foundation. It undertook
to supply legal services to all needy persons, regardless of race,
nationality, or sex. In this respect it was the first true legal aid
In legal aid chronology 1890 is a noteworthy year because it
marked the election of Arthur Y. Briesen to the presidency of the
New York society. For 25 years Mr. Briesen played the leading
role in shaping the development of legal aid work not only in New
York but throughout the country generally. As was said of him at
the convention of legal aid organizations held at Cleveland in 1923,
“ 4Every institution is but the lengthened shadow of some great
man.’ The institution of legal aid in the United States is but the
lengthened shadow of Arthur V. Briesen.” With his advent the
work in New York was broadened to care not merely for the immi­
grant but for any man, whoever he might be, who, because of his
poverty, was in danger of a denial of justice. Despite a certain
amount of criticism and a good deal of misunderstanding as to the
true nature of its work the society forged steadily ahead, weathered
a succession of financial crises, and every year increased its reputa­
tion among the poor of the city for its honesty and integrity in
caring for the cases entrusted to it.
In 1894 Jersey City began the work in a modest way. There was
no definite organization. It is interesting to note how slowly the



idea spread at first. By the end of the nineteenth century there
were only three cities in which legal aid work was done. In 1899
only 10,424 cases were handled. But where it had taken root the
work was not to be dislodged, and in 1899 it was found necessary for
the New York society to open three branches—a seamen’s branch, a
branch in the university settlement, which later became the East
Side branch, and a women’s branch, which later became the uptown
branch. The significant feature during this first period was the
growth of the idea from a narrow proprietary type of work to a
broad conception of rendering general legal assistance to all deserv­
ing persons.
The second period of growth runs from 1900 to 1909, inclusive.
It was an era of steady expansion. More people came to realize
the need for some such remedy; other cities took up the work*Boston in 1900, Newark in 1901, the New York labor secretariat in
1901, Philadelphia in 1902, New Kochelle in 1902, the Educational
Alliance of New York in 1902. In 1904 Atlanta, Cleveland, and
Denver fell into line. In 1905 New York opened its Harlem branch,
and in 1906 its Brooklyn branch. In 1907 came Cincinnati, in 1908
Pittsburgh, and' in 1909 Detroit. It will be noted from this list
of cities that during this second period the growth was almost en­
tirely in the East. In Atlanta the work was discontinued and re­
mained in abeyance for nearly 20 years.
Of these new organizations, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cin­
cinnati, and Pittsburgh were based on the New York type and were
incorporated as private philanthropic societies. In Boston the bar
took a leading part in organizing the society. The Newark society
was called “ The New Jersey Legal Aid Society,” but its work was
limited to Newark. The Denver organization, started by the local
law school, was so successful and received so many cases that there
were not sufficient funds to operate it, and it was forced to close its
doors. The Educational Alliance is a specialized organization work­
ing in the vast Jewish population of New York, particularly among
the immigrants.
In 1905 the two organizations in Chicago united to form the
present strong Chicago Legal Aid Society. New York in 1906 tried
to start a criminal branch, but the work was discontinued because
of lack of funds. This gave legal aid work a decided turn away
from the criminal field, because other organizations in copying New
York also limited their attention to civil work. The Detroit bureau
is important because there for the first time the organized bar as­
sumed responsibility for maintaining the work as a part of its
professional responsibilities.
The third period was from 1910 to 1913. It was marked by
growth in the Middle West and a strengthening of the group in the
East. The outstanding development was the establishment of the
first municipal bureau in Kansas City, Mo., in 1910. All the other
societies had been established and supported either by bar associa­
tions, charities, or the general public in the form of philanthropic
corporations. All were private organizations, but the legal aid
bureau of the department of public welfare in Kansas City was sup­
ported by the municipal treasury. In 1912 St. Louis, Akron, and
St. Paul commenced organizations in their respective communities,



and they were followed in 1913 by Duluth, Minneapolis, and Louis­
ville. In the eastern field Baltimore and Rochester were added in
1911. In the same year came the New York National Desertion Bu­
reau. In 1912 a society was started in Buffalo and another in Colorado
Springs. In 1913 there were efforts to start legal aid work in the
South, resulting in progress in New Orleans and in Birmingham.
Also in 1913 began the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (conducted by stu­
dents at the Harvard Law School), and in Minneapolis a coopera­
tive arrangement was effected with the law school of the University
of Minnesota, providing a sort of legal clinic for the instruction of
law students. This period also saw the beginning of a national legal
aid body, when plans for the National Alliance of Legal Aid Socie­
ties were inaugurated at Pittsburgh in 1911. This central organi­
zation and its subsequent development are discussed in Chapter
x rn .

The National Desertion Bureau is an example of specialized legal
aid work in the one field of domestic relations. It deals primarily
with cases of desertion and abandonment. During this third period
the prevailing tyj>e of organization changed. During the first two
eras the privately incorporated society type predominated; but in this
third stage 8 of the 14 new organizations were established as bureaus
or departments of general charity organizations, such as the united,
federated, and associated charities. Even more significant was the
development of the municipal type of organization. Here, for the
first time, we find the government of a modern city establishing a
law office to which needy citizens may apply for free legal advice
and assistance. This municipal experiment in Kansas City was suc­
cessful and it exerted a marked influence on the work in other cities.
During the fourth period, from 1913 to 1917, the work entered a
stage of rapid development that was checked only by the outbreak of
the World War. The territorial expansion continued until the Pa­
cific coast was reached. The public defenders began to make their
appearance. The number of organizations increased from 28 in 1913
to 41 in 1917. The municipal type of bureau was copied in a number
of cities and the work as a whole advanced by leaps and bounds.
Keeping pace with the enlarging work was a steady evolution of
the fundamental concepts underlying and shaping the philosophy of
the work. Whereas legal aid had started as a limited, proprietary
sort of organization, it had been developed into a definite legal
charity, at the service of all meritorious applicants, and the growth
of municipal bureaus offered the first suggestion that legal aid work
might be something more than a charity, that under modern condi­
tions it might indeed come to be regarded as an essential part in the
public administration of justice.
In 1914, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, the first public
defender’s office was established in Los Angeles. The mere fact
that this was a public and not a private office tended to emphasize
again the object lesson afforded by Kansas City, and in the follow­
ing year the legal aid society in St. Louis was taken over by the
municipal government, Dayton established a municipal bureau, and
the newly created bureau of public welfare in Dallas started a legal
aid bureau as one of its welfare activities. Likewise, in 1915 public
defender offices were established in Omaha, Portland, Oreg., and in



Los Angeles (the police court public defender). In 1916 the pri­
vate legal aid society in Hartford was taken over by the city, and a
municipal bureau was created in Omaha. Thus in two years eight
public legal aid offices came into being, and in a real sense this
phenomenon marks a turning point in legal aid history. The full
significance of this trend toward public control of legal aid work
can not be discussed here because it would require us to anticipate
our storyj but in Chapter X V , wherein the various types of legal
aid organizations are discussed and compared, we shall recur to it.
Following the novel experiment at Harvard of a legal aid bureau
conducted by law students, the George Washington and the Yale law
schools undertook a certain amount of legal aid work in an informal
way. Also in 1916 legal aid offices were opened in San Francisco,
San Diego, Milwaukee, Richmond, Nashville, and Columbus, and in
Plainfield a legal aid committee was organized. During this year
plans for a defender in criminal cases were under way in New York,
which were consummated by the establishment of the voluntary
defender’s committee early in 1917. Then came the war and the
development of legal aid work was brought to an abrupt stop.
During 1917, 1918, and 1919 no new societies or bureaus were
formed and some of the weaker and more recently organized offices
had to be given up. Summarizing this interval, the attorney for the
New York Legal Aid Society stated:
Legal aid work has been a young man’s work, and the war inevitably dis­
rupted its personnel, ‘and, by the same token, disrupted the organization of the
National Alliance. Most of the men either went into military service or were
commandeered for various forms o f Government service, and those who re­
mained technically in the legal aid offices were so swamped with the additional
war work which was assumed that they had no time or strength for anything

A renewed impetus was given to the work in the fall of 1919, when
the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching pub­
lished as its thirteenth bulletin a volume entitled “ Justice and the
Poor,” which was primarily a treatise on legal aid. The main thesis
of this publication was that legal aid work must be considered an
integral part of the administration of justice in the modern com­
munity because unless legal assistance were provided to poor persons
unable to pay for such help the inevitable result would be substantial
and widespread denial of justice.
In 1920 the onward march of legal aid work was resumed. The
Rhode Island Bar Association established a strong society in Provi­
dence. The society in Newark was reorganized under the auspices
of the bar. In Philadelphia the work which since 1902 had been
conducted by a privately incorporated society was taken over and
greatly enlarged by the municipal government.
In 1921 the Grand Rapids Social Welfare Association opened
its legal aid bureau, patterned to a large extent after the organiza­
tion in Chicago which, primarily for financial reasons, had become
a part of the United Charities of Chicago. As a result of legislation
fostered by the Connecticut Bar Association committee on legal aid
work, public defender offices were provided for Bridgeport, Hart­
ford, and New Haven. As a reflection of the fact that legal aid had
now become a national, as distinguished from a local or sectional
movement, we find that while this legislation was taking effect in




Connecticut a similar act was passed in California, establishing a
public defender in San Francisco.
The most interesting event in this year of great activity was the
creation of an entirely new plan for legal aid work, especially
adapted to work in the smaller cities, as the result of action by the
Illinois Bar Association, which undertook to work out with local
bar associations in the State an informal series of legal aid com­
mittees to which the social service agencies in their respective com­
munities could refer persons needing legal advice and assistance.
Up to this time the services of legal aid organizations had been
confined almost exclusively to the larger cities in the United States. \
The so-called Illinois plan indicated for the first time a simple
and practicable machinery whereby the benefits of legal aid might
also be extended to the smaller cities and towns where the volume
of the work would be insufficient to warrant the establishment of
a formally organized society or bureau.
In 1922 municipal legal aid bureaus were begun in Bridgeport
and Camden, and the Louisville Legal Aid Society was reorganized
at the instance of the local bar association. Likewise in 1922 the
several legal aid organizations of the country resumed their custom
of meeting together. Their last joint convention had been in 1916,
the meeting scheduled for 1918 was necessarily canceled, but in
1922 they came together again at the invitation of the Philadelphia
Municipal Legal Aid Bureau and for the first time since the war
reviewed their situation and, in effect, took account of stock.
From the records made available by this Philadelphia legal aid
convention it appeared that 36 organizations had survived the war
and that in 12 other cities new offices had been established or were
in process of establishment. The scattered threads were gathered
together at this meeting and definite plans for the future were re­
solved on.
This brings us to the most recent period in legal aid development.
Whereas in 1922 there were approximately 48 legal aid organiza­
tions, by 1925 this number had increased to 72. Many of these
added societies, bureaus, and committees are so recent that it is
difficult to distinguish between organizations that are already en­
titled to be regarded as definitely established, informal groups that
represent embryonic organizations, and committees that have the
matter in hand and are undertaking to create legal aid offices of one
type or another. The full list of existing legal aid offices, of what­
ever form or type, in each city, is published herein as Appen­
dix G. During these last two years the following appear to be
the more important developments. In 1923 the work was estab­
lished in Albany and Indianapolis, the beginnings of bar asso­
ciation activity in this field were made in Washington and Worces­
ter, and in Pontiac and Lansing, Mich., interested groups began
to plan for the formation of legal aid committees. In 1924 the bar
associations in Denver and Beading undertook to provide legal aid
machinery, and in Dallas the work was revived under the same
auspices. In Lexington the social agencies and in Des Moines the
Federation of Women’s Clubs have sponsored the creation of legal
aid entities.
The history of the development of legal aid work represents an
idea that originated in 1876 and germinated very slowly during the

Na t i o n a l a s s o c ia t io n o f l e g a l a id o r g a n iz a t io n s


first 25 years. The community was not aware of the difficulties of
the poor man who needed legal protection. The situation was most
manifest in the largest cities and the legal aid idea naturally first
took root in our two largest cities—New York and Chicago. From
1900 to 1917 we find the idea extending at an accelerating pace, first
into the next largest cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Cleve­
land, and finally reaching across the continent to Los Angeles and
San Francisco. During the war the movement was checked and
suffered a momentary setback, but by 1920 it was well under way
again; it has regained its momentum and the current of events flows
steadily ahead under the intelligent guidance and leadership of the
National Association of Legal Aid Organizations.
Since each legal aid society or bureau was formed by a local group
to meet a local need, it was perhaps inevitable that they should have
come very slowly to any realization of the fact that they were all
engaged in a common enterprise. The first tentative step toward
the formation of a national or Federal body was taken in 1911, but
not until 1923 was there a strong enough conscious sense of solidar­
ity to make possible the creation of a true national association.
Legal aid work has outgrown the period of its infancy and is enter­
ing the stage of its maturity. In any further extension of the work
and in maintaining the efficiency of the existing organizations a lead­
ing responsibility devolves on this new national association. To a
large degree the future of legal aid work in this country has been
entrusted to its care. This important central body is so new that
very little has been published about it and consequently the general
public knows little concerning it. It seems worth while, therefore,
to devote the next chapter to a reasonably thorough statement of its
history, the scope of its functions, and the work on which it is en­
The origin of the present national association is to be found in the
National Alliance of Legal Aid Societies. In 1911, Mark W. Acheson, jr., president of the Pittsburgh Legal Aid Society, invited the
societies then in existence to meet in Pittsburgh for an informal dis­
cussion. Delegates from 14 organizations attended and agreed upon
the advisability of some sort of central body. A committee was ap­
pointed to draw up a form of constitution. At a second convention,
held in New York in 1912 and attended by representatives from 12
societies and bureaus, the committee’s report was accepted and there
was formed the National Alliance of Legal Aid Societies. The pur­
pose of this alliance, as stated in section 2 of its constitution, was:
Its object and purpose shall be to give publicity to the work o f the legal aid
societies of the United States, to bring about cooperation and increase efficiency
in their work, and encourage the formation of new societies.

Mr. Arthur Briesen, president of the New York Legal Aid Society,
was unanimously elected president of the alliance and its valuable,
though limited, accomplishments were almost entirely due to his
personal enthusiasm and zeal. The organization had no real power
vested in it and it was fatally handicapped by lack of funds. The




constituent societies paid no dues, the central committee, which had
power to fix dues not in excess of $25 per* annum, never authorized
the collection of any dues; indeed, the constitution itself made no pro­
vision for the office of treasurer. The expenses which necessarily
were incurred were paid by the president out of his own pocket.
The national alliance did little more than serve as the vehicle
through which two subsequent conventions were called, the first
at Chicago in 1914 and the second at Cincinnati in 1916. These
gatherings of legal aid workers served to build up an esprit de corps,
they facilitated the exchange of cases between offices in different
parts of the country, and through papers read and discussion they
afforded a much needed forum and clearing house for the presenta­
tion and exchange of ideas about the work, its technique, and its
true function. The influence of a man like Mr. Briesen must have
been very great in encouraging and inspiring the legal aid at­
torneys, many of whom were poorly paid and inadequately sup­
ported m their own communities. The whole weight of his forceful
personality was thrown in the direction of making legal aid a more
useful servant of the community, for his genius enabled him to see
more clearly than anyone else the ultimate goal toward which all
legal aid work was developing. His vision is revealed by a para­
graph in an informal letter that he sent to the Cincinnati convention
to regret and explain his absence on account of his advancing years:
That legal aid societies, since the national alliance was born at Pittsburgh,
have increased in number and efficiency is apparent. That credit is due to
those who brought about these gratifying results need not be stated. Hundreds
o f thousands of poor and helpless men and women, to say nothing o f poor
and helpless children, have reason to bless these institutions. I believe that
very few, however, will now think of their work as a blessing, for they
take it to be one o f the institutions of the country, one o f the things that
makes this country great and glorious. By this time they accept this gift
as a natural right which, indeed, it is, marking an important step forward in

After 1916 the national alliance became quiescent. It had never
been a controlling factor in guiding the development of the work,
it had neither funds nor power; so far as providing the leadership
which the legal aid movement needed, this loose type of association
was impotent. In 1919 the bulletin entitled “ Justice and the Poor,”
already referred to, said:
Legal aid work has not yet passed out of the stage of localized organization.
We have already seen that the societies were started in the various cities by
local groups acting independently. I f there was no such group, no society was
started, and if the group failed or dispersed the society went with it. There
never has been, as there is not now, any strong central agency in a position
o f leadership. There is no centralized responsibility or authority. The legal
aid movement has not yet become a coordinated national undertaking.

At the Philadelphia convention of legal aid organizations, held in
1922, the formation of a new national body was the main topic of
discussion. In the course of the debates it was said “ the national
alliance is like a federal government without power of taxation.”
“ There is an imperative demand for such elementary things as
standardized records of work, conventionalized classifications of the
nature, source, and disposition of cases and for uniformity of
financial accounting.” “ There is great need for a central clearing
house to provide for the proper reference of cases.” “ There is no



definite head, no leadership in the legal aid movement.” The upshot
of this discussion was a unanimous resolution appointing a special
committee to bring about a new national organization. The report
of the Philadelphia convention summarized the feelings of the dele­
gates of the local societies by saying “ they are determined to inte­
grate themselves into a national federation. They are no longer
contented with the loose and impotent association which the national
alliance, by virtue of its ineffective structure, has necessarily been.
They propose to recast the form of their national organization so
that as a representative legislative and executive body, it may pro­
vide a genuine leadership in extending and improving the work.”
The special committee, after a series of meetings, decided that it
was impracticable to make over the national alliance into a satis­
factory central body, because what was needed was a real delegation
of power by the individual local societies and bureaus to a central
organization. This could be accomplished only with the consent of
the local societies. After the draft plan for the new national asso­
ciation had been formulated, printed, and distributed, a constitu­
tional convention was held at Cleveland on June 7 and 8,1923. Duly
accredited delegates were present representing 23 legal aid societies
and bureaus and including all the larger and stronger organizations
in the United States. The special committee submitted its plan and
We have considered that, in effect, we had been given a mandate by those
competent to speak, to draft a form of framework for a national structure.
In this report we do not debate or argue the need for a strong national
organization. The lack of it in the past has retarded legal aid development.
That is a fact known to everyone. The need of it, if legal aid work is to de­
velop in the future, is also a fact known to everyone.
We have bent our energies to devising a plan of federation which, while
still leaving the local societies and bureaus free and independent, would also
vest in the central or national body enough power to be able to carry on its
particular work.

After general debate and some perfecting amendments, the con­
stitution was unanimously adopted and the constituent organizations
became members by signing the constitution, a copy of which is
published herein as Appendix H. The Hon. William Howard Taft,
Chief Justice of the United States, was elected honorary president
of the new organization, the other officers chosen being a president,
secretary, treasurer, and an executive committee of seven persons
intentionally selected to represent different types of legal aid offices
operating in various sections of the country. The following letter,
written by Hon. Elihu Eoot to the special committee, was read at
the convention:
I have received your letter o f May 1, telling me o f the proposed June meet­
ing of delegates from legal aid organizations and the plan to form a na­
tional association.
Will you please count me as being heartily in favor of that plan? It be­
comes every year more evident that something is wanted to establish a contact
between the system o f administering justice, o f which we are so proud, and
the very people who need it most. The people who know how can easily get
a very good brand of justice, but the people who don’t know how have little
reason to suppose that there is any justice here. I am afraid they are
getting a very bad idea of our institutions. It is becoming evident also that
this subject must be dealt with, in the first instance at least, by private enter­
prise. Methods may be evolved which can ultimately be applied by govern­
ment, but those methods can not be evolved out o f anybody’s inner conscience,




or out of any legislative committee. They must be worked out experimentally
and that must be done by organized private enterprise. The present organi­
zation in the form o f a national alliance o f legal aid societies is plainly
inadequate. We need a national body which can act itself in accordance with
the authority derived from the local societies. I think that is plainly the
next step toward promoting genuine legal aid, and especially toward pre­
venting the plunder of the poor under the false pretense o f legal aid.

The purposes of the new national association as formally set forth
in section 2 of Article I of the constitution are:
The objects and purposes o f this association shall be to promote and de­
velop legal aid work, to encourage the formation o f new legal aid organiza­
tions wherever they may be needed, to provide a central body with defined
duties and powers for the guidance of legal aid work, and to cooperate with
the judiciary, the bar, and all organizations interested in the administration
o f justice.

The last clause of this section represents a thought that was en­
tirely lacking in the purpose clause of the old national alliance, and
which, as time goes on, is likely to be the most important function
of the present national body. The legal aid organizations have a
direct contribution to make to the better administration of justice in
the United States. They realized that if they were to be heard they
must speak with a single voice and therefore they ceded to their
national body “ supervision over legal aid work in its national as­
pects, over the relationship between legal aid organizations and all
other national organizations.”
Before discussing the important results already accomplished
under this power we may digress for a moment to note that the
power to “ promulgate standards as to the conduct of legal aid
w ork5 was acted on immediately. Standard classifications as to
all controlling records were adopted at the Cleveland convention as
the first official action of the new body. Brief discussion of their
significance will be found in a later chapter; their pertinence here is
that they afford an excellent practical illustration of the efficiency,
thoroughness, and zeal with which the new national association
embarked upon its career.
The national association carries on its activities through a salaried
secretarv who devotes his entire time to the work and through a
series ox standing committees to each of which is entrusted one major
division of the legal aid field. These committees maintain continu­
ing studies of the subjects committed to their charge, prepare an­
nual reports which are printed and distributed to all member or­
ganizations and which form the basis for the discussions at the
annual conventions. Following the Cleveland convention in 1923
the next general meeting was held at Minneapolis in 1924. The
executive committee holds a midwinter meeting each year in the
rooms of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
The activities of the standing committees are adequately sug­
gested by their names. The committee on records and the com­
mittee on financial accounting labor to bring the technique of all
legal aid organizations up to the approved standard. The com­
mittees on small loans, on domestic relations* courts, on the public
defender, and on small claims courts, conciliation, and arbitration
study the remedial agencies, most of which have been discussed in
earlier chapters, in order to make certain that the legal aid attorneys
are prepared to step in and assist needy persons at the point where



these remedial agencies, by virtue of the limitations of their juris­
diction, are obliged to stop.
The separate legal aid organizations having been integrated into a
national body are now able to cooperate with other national bodies
that are interested in the improvement of the administration of
justice and especially as it relates to people of little or no means.
In Chapter I X we have already noted the object of the committee
on relations with the International Association of Industrial Accident
Boards and Commissions, and in Chapter X that of the committee
on relations with the Association of Governmental Labor Officials
of the United States and Canada. In Chapter X V II we shall have
occasion to speak of the committee on relations with social agencies
and in Chapter X V III of the committee on relations with the bar.
Two of the further activities of the national association may be
considered here. To gather and disseminate information concern­
ing its own activities and concerning the progress of legal aid work
in general there is a special committee on publicity. Beyond its
routine work of publishing the reports of the standing committees
and of the convention proceedings it secures articles of special
interest to legal aid workers and distributes them to its mailing
list. The official organ of the committee is the Legal Aid Review,
published by the New York Legal Aid Society. A recent undertak­
ing has been the preparation o f a series of articles on legal subjects
for release through the Foreign Language Information Service.
These articles have been widely used by the foreign language press
of the country and through them the meaning and availability of
legal aid offices has been brought directly home to our immigrant
Finally, the National Association of Legal Aid Organizations
initiated a movement for international cooperation in legal aid work
which is so important that it may justly be regarded as the crowning
achievement in the association’s short but already eventful life. The
first legal aid society, as was pointed out in Chapter X II, was
formed for the exclusive purpose of aiding immigrants. While
legal aid work soon broadened its scope, nevertheless it has always
been a bulwark for the protection of the legal rights of immigrants.
In 1923, of the 29,000 persons assisted by the New York Legal Aid
Society, 13,000 had been born in foreign countries and 7,000 were
still aliens. In nationality these immigrants represented nearly
every country in the world. The legal aid organizations have natu­
rally found themselves confronted with large numbers of cases in
which justice could be secured only through some legal action in
foreign countries. They had established contacts with a few legal
aid organizations in Europe and this suggested to the national asso­
ciation that if all the legal aid and similar organizations in the
world could be ascertained some arrangements for international
cooperation would become possible. Through one of its vice presi­
dents, who enlisted the aid of the Norwegian delegate to the Assembly
of the League of Nations, the association was able to file a memo­
randum pointing out this need, and in 1923 the assembly of the
league by resolution decided:
To place on the agenda of the fifth assembly the question referred to in
the memorandum A. 119, 1923, V., regarding international arrangements for
legal assistance to the poor.




To invite the secretary general to prepare a report in the meantime and
to make such inquiries, under the authority of the council, as may be found
desirable, without expenditure of league funds.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York provided the moderate
sum needed for the purpose and the council of the league, on March
13, 1924, authorized the secretary general to convene a small com­
mittee of experts from various countries who could advise the secre­
tary general and submit a plan for further action.
The committee was constituted as follows:
• France: M. Lucien Baudelot, advocate at the court o f appeal at Paris.
England: Sir T. Willes Chitty, senior master of the supreme court.
Norway: Prof. Mikael Lie, professor of international law at the University o f
Ita ly : Prof. Silvio Longhi, first president of court of appeal.
Poland: Prof. S. Nagorski, professor of civil law at the University of War­
saw, member of the Polish commission on codification.
Spain: Prof. Adolfo Posada, professor of public law at the University of
Madrid, ex-director of the Institute of Social Reform.
United States: Mr. Reginald Heber Smith, chairman of the American Bar
Association committee on legal aid work, secretary of the United States na­
tional committee on legal aid work.
Japan: Prof. Kenzo Takayanagi, professor of law at the University of Tokio.
International Labor Office: Dr. L. Varley, technical adviser on migration to
the International Labor Office.

The committee met from July 30 to August 2, 1924, inclusive.
Much valuable information was supplied by the members both in the
form of written memoranda and in oral statements at the meeting.
Communications were also received from the Austrian Government
and, through the German consulate at Geneva, from the committee
of the German Bar Association.
After the committee had adjourned, the secretary general filed an
admirable report with the assembly. This report has been reprinted
in full and is available in the January, 1925, issue of the Legal Aid
Review. The recommendations offered by the committee were ap­
proved by the secretary general and transmitted to the assembly
which, after making minor alterations, passed the following resolu­
tion on September 20, 1924:



s s is t a n c e


t h e



Resolution adopted (on the report of the first committee) bp the assembly
at its meeting held on Saturday, September 20, 192\ (morning)
The assembly decides:
1. To invite the secretariat to prepare a list o f the agencies, both public
and private, which have been established in each country for the purpose of
giving to poor persons legal assistance in connection with litigation in the
courts or free legal advice and consultation; and of international organiza­
tions that are interested in providing or securing legal assistance to poor
This list shall be printed and distributed to the various governments and
be available for the agencies named therein and for other interested insti­
This list shall be revised by the secretariat from time to time in order that
it may mention agencies that may hereafter be established or abolished.
2. To invite the secretariat to collect the various treaties, laws, and other
provisions regulating legal assistance to poor persons in the various nations
and between various nations.
Such treaties, laws, and other provisions or summaries thereof shall be
published and distributed to the various governments and be made available



to the agencies mentioned in the list of legal aid associations and to other
interested institutions.
3. To invite each government to nominate an authority or other duly
qualified person who will answer inquiries from authorities or other duly
qualified persons in other countries, with regard to the facilities afforded in
the country applied to for giving legal advice and assistance in litigation to
poor persons in other countries.
The list of authorities or persons so designated by the various governments
.ihall be published by the secretariat from time to time.
4. To request the secretary general of the League o f Nations to ask the
various States, including States not members o f the league, whether they
would be disposed to become parties to a convention dealing with free legal
aid for the poor on the basis o f the principles formulated in articles 20 to
23 of The Hague convention of July 17, 1905, and whether possibly they would
desire to propose any modification of such principles.
5. To request the secretary general to transmit to the governments the re­
port A. 34, 1924, V., concerning international arrangements for legal as­
sistance for the poor.

Pursuant to this authority, the legal section of the secretariat of
the league has begun its work. Within the space of two years it
is hoped that there may be made available a complete reference list
of all the legal aid agencies in the world, together with a digest
of the laws that are of special concern in the cases that are most
likely to arise. Thereafter it will be feasible for genuine inter­
national cooperation to begin. To-day, when a case presenting an
international aspect arises, little, if anything, can be done. In fu­
ture it may be possible for the long arm of organized legal aid work
to reach out across the ocean and in cooperation with sister agencies
abroad to secure legal protection for the rights of immigrants in
any country. After this brief glance at the future progress that
may come to pass in the international field, it is time to return to
an examination and appraisal of what the American legal aid or­
ganizations have been able to accomplish in their own domestic
field of work.

The final test of the merit of any organization that exists to
render a public or community service must depend on the amount of
work it can perform and the degree of efficiency it is able to attain.
It is possible to apply a quantitative test to the legal aid organiza­
tions because most of them have kept satisfactory records as to the
major features of their work, how many clients they served, how
much they collected for clients, and what the cost of their own opera­
tion amounted to. In Appendix C these figures are set out in
detail. For our present purpose a condensed table will serve as
an accurate reflection of the extraordinary growth of the work.
When we note that the total number of cases in 1900 was only 20,896
and that by 1923 it had increased to 150,234 cases, then we realize
that while legal aid work has an unbroken history running back for
nearly 50 years, yet the great bulk of its achievement lies within the
last decade, during which period the movement became truly na­
tional in scope. In other words, the legal aid organizations taken
as a whole have passed through their experimental stage, but they
are still young; they have not assumed their final form because they
are still in process of development. They are not yet at the zenith
of their powers, they contain tremendous latent possibilities for




effective service in connection with the administration of justice,
but they are only at the threshold of the passageway which leads to
a full realization of these opportunities.



N um ­
ber of

Num ber
of cases1


Amounts Operating
for clients1



1Figures are for those organizations which reported.

The organizations have conducted their work so quietly that their
aggregate accomplishment must be something of a surprise to any
one who reads ox their work for the first time. Not including the
figures for 1924, which are not available at this writing, the legal
aid organizations have received applications for assistance in 1,924,425 cases; through their efforts they have collected for their clients
$6,355,797 and in the prosecution ox their work they have expended
$3,256,518. The existing organizations now serve a territory in
which 25,000,000 persons live; each year they assist more than
125,000 clients; they collect approximately half a million dollars in
amounts that average little more than $15 per case. The mainte­
nance of legal aid work now costs nearly a thii£ of a million dol­
lars a year, which means that they are able to extend legal advice
to a client and to render whatever legal assistance he requires at an
average cost of about $2.50 per case.
The foregoing may be regarded as minimum figures because
records for some of the newer and less strongly established offices
are not available. I f we measure by number of clients, the legal
aid organizations of the United States must conduct the largest
law practice in the world.
It would be interesting if we could analyze this mass of legai
matters to ascertain the various kinds of cases of which it is com­
posed. It is not yet possible to make such an analysis accurately
enough as to yield reliable statistics applicable to the legal aid or­
ganizations as a whole. While most of the stronger societies and
bureaus keep records showing the nature of their cases, how they
were referred to the legal aid office, and what they were able to ac­
complish in these cases, it is virtually impossible to combine these
figures because each organization has had its own system, its own
terminology, and its own classifications, which are not comparable



with those of other organizations. The national association has
taken action designed to put an end to this confusion, but it always
takes some time to overcome habit and inertia, and it may be several
years before all the organizations are brought into strict compliance
with the uniform system of records adopted in 1923 to be effective
beginning in 1924.
In the absence of definite figures we can only generalize, but it
is the clear consensus of opinion of those engaged in the work that
the largest single item consists of wage collections, which make up
at least one quarter of the total volume of cases. Next in relative
importance are matters relating to domestic relations, such as deser­
tion, nonsupport, custody of children, judicial separation (separate
maintenance), and actions for divorce, which are relatively few in
number because of a legal aid policy toward divorce that will be dis­
cussed later in this chapter. The third largest group of cases con­
sists of the prosecution or defense of miscellaneous money claims
and debts. Beyond this point no worth-while estimate can be made
because of the tremendous variety of the cases which daily pour
into the legal aid offices of the country. Some of the applicants
need only legal advice as to their rights and probably about 10 per
cent of the grist in the legal aid mill consists of giving miscellaneous
advice and information, writing a letter, or drawing some simple
In the conduct of their work the legal aid organizations have
through experience learned certain lessons which nave become in­
corporated into well-established principles for their guidance, and
on the other hand, a number of questions remain unsettled because,
although there has been an abundance of discussion, no clear agree­
ment has been reached.
A legal aid society or bureau is a law office; its attorneys are
engaged in the practice of law. They are subject to the same rules
of professional conduct and to the same canons of ethics as any other
attorneys. But, in addition to these traditional precepts, the legal
aid organizations have found it necessary to establish certain other
The first of these rules is a definite principle, universally applied,
that no person who is able to employ a private attorney is entitled
to their assistance. The legal aid organizations are not in competi­
tion with the bar, and they are scrupulously careful in this regard.
Furthermore, their funds, whether received from the public treas­
ury or from private subscriptions, are given to them in trust to
carry out a specific purpose which, as it is commonly expressed in
the constitutions of legal aid societies, is “ to render legal aid and
assistance, gratuitously if necessary, to all persons who may appear
worthy thereof, and who, from poverty, are unable to procure it.”
While the principle is clear enough, its application to border­
line cases is sometimes difficult. There are comparatively few
doubtful cases, but the legal aid attorneys have been at great pains
to try to fix the exact dividing line. All persons when they come
to a legal aid office are first considered as “ applicants.” I f they
satisfy the attorney that they are without sufficient funds to retain
their own attorneys, then they are accepted as “ clients,” and having
56861°—26---- 6




been accepted the relationship of attorney and client continues to
the end ox the case.
Twenty organizations allow the attorney who receives the appli­
cation to exercise his discretion as to whether or not the applicant
is a legal aid client. Such discretionary control has been found
better than any rigid tests. The National Association’s committee
on relations with the bar, in its report for 1924, says in this regard:
A further argument against all o f these tests would be that while they may
well be put in operation, there is always a way to beat them. I f a man who
does the work is the wrong kind o f a man, no rules will keep him in place.
I f he is the right kind of man, you will have little need for rules.
A $500 wage claim presented by a healthy unmarried man would, it may
be assumed, be at once rejected by any legal aid society. But how about an
attempt to cheat a widowed charwoman who is the sole support of her nine
young chidren out o f a $500 equity in her cottage? Is that a legal aid case?
A close working understanding between the legal aid committee of the local
bar association and the board o f directors o f the legal aid society, with the
legal aid attorney serving as the link between the two, will be essential if any
elastic definition is to be applied satisfactorily. Would not such an under­
standing be speedily arrived at if—
1. The legal aid attorney should submit to the bar association committee
any border-line cases whose status he considers to be doubtful; and
2. The bar association committee should visit the bureau at intervals,
examine the records, question the attorney, and satisfy itself as to the char­
acter of cases accepted, making such recommendation as it deems necessary.

The foregoing suggestion is undoubtedly as good a solution as
can be had. The legal aid attorney’s discretion is not left free and
untrammeled but is subject to enough control to prevent abuse. I f
the bar at large thinks the legal aid office is accepting improper
cases, the remedy lies in its own hands. Some organizations have
already accepted the substance of this suggestion for their future
guidance as the need may arise.
The earnest desire to avoid criticism from the bar has led a num­
ber of organizations to take a false step in the following situation.
When an applicant is refused, either because he can pay a fee or
because of the nature of his case, he invariably asks for the name of
some reliable attorney to whom he may go. The organizations above
referred to refused to answer this simple question, lest they be
accused of playing favorites. The unfortunate result generally was
that the ignorant applicant would fall into the hands of a “ runner ”
and straightway be led to the office of some “ shyster.” The better
ractice to-day is to offer a list of names of reputable attorneys who
ave agreed in advance that they will accept such cases. Seventeen
organizations use lists compiled by themselves, and six use lists com­
piled by the bar association. I f any substantial number of cases are
to be referred, the second plan is clearly the safer and should be used
wherever the local bar association is willing to cooperate in this
Whether or not legal aid organizations should accept divorce cases
has long been a mooted point. Divorce is a serious step; to make it
easy by making it cheap may result in baneful social consequences.
And to refuse divorces in certain instances has equally bad social
results. It might seem simple to adopt a rule to defend divorce
cases but to refuse to institute them. But as the experienced attor­
ney of the Buffalo Legal Aid Society has said;




It is a simple matter to bring to mind cases where a poor woman with
several children has been deserted by a worthless husband who has given her
all possible grounds for a divorce. When such a woman finds, as many of
them do, some steady man who is willing, in return for the home life he wants,
to give her his wages and help to bring up the children, we have an opportunity
for a real, constructive piece of work. If a divorce is granted her, she can
start life all over again and probably make her way. If the divorce is denied,
she may very likely take the man in as a boarder and after a time bring into
the world a group of illegitimate children.

There is in reality a dilemma which the committee on relations
with the bar has summed up as follows:
It is argued that because of its public or quasi public position a legal aid
society must take every case which comes to it, provided the client is one
within the jurisdiction and the case is not prohibited by a general rule. It is
further argued that a legal aid organization, being merely an instrument of
the law, should not assume to determine the merit of such cases provided the
facts are such as to warrant a divorce. It is said that the moral side of such
questions is a matter for the individual client and not for the legal aid society
to pass upon.
On the other side, it is argued that divorce is in the nature of an equitable
proceeding, and that the moral standpoint of the applicant for a divorce must
be taken into consideration. It is said that the break-up of a family is in­
volved, a step is taken toward the break-up of society, and therefore society at
large is involved in such a proceeding and is interested in whether, morally, the
divorce should be granted or not.
It is a safe rule to lay down that while a legal aid organization refuses a
divorce case at its peril, it also accepts such cases at its peril, and must tread
the narrow path between denying justice to the poor, on the one hand, and
encouraging unwarranted destruction of families on the other.

In actual practice 12 organizations do not accept divorce cases and
15 do under special circumstances. Unanimity of opinion on this
point may never be attained, because the States themselves are far
from being in any accord in the matter of their divorce laws. Public
opinion is at odds on divorce and it is too much to expect the legal aid
organizations to solve a social question that baffles everyone else.
Whether or not personal injury cases should be accepted has been,
and still is, a warmly contested point. The problem arises in a pe­
culiar way. A man may be utterly penniless, but if he is knocked
down by a street car he has a claim that may be worth a thousand
dollars against a solvent defendant. For many years lawyers have
been willing to accept these cases on a contingent fee basis. Despite
the fact that the contingent fee has given rise to a host of abuses and
that many excellent lawyers look at it askance, it seems to have be­
come a recognized method of arranging the fee in negligence cases
and a contingent fee contract, which was originally deemed void at
the common law, is now accorded legal recognition in most States.
On this question, the committee on relations with the bar states:
As a general proposition, a legal aid organization has no right to contend
with other lawyers for business.
As long, then, as lawyers can be found to take contingent fee cases, the legal
aid organization ought to keep its hands off. I f such cases are of any value
at law, members of the bar will take them. I f they are of no value, a legal
aid organization can not make much headway.
When, however, we come to consider a small case of this sort, where there
is undoubtedly a legal right to recover and where the amount involved is so
small as not to warrant any action by a private attorney, even on ^ contingent
basis, then the legal aid may properly proceed because, if it did not interfere,
injustice would be done.


grow ts


l e g a l a id



tm iT E D


Wherever the law has acknowledged t*he propriety of contingent
fee contracts, the committee’s observations are applicable and they
constitute as good a practical solution as can be afforded, and the
rules of the great majority of the legal aid offices are in accord with
this plan.
Other types of cases present difficulties, but the only group that
is important enough to warrant attention here is that of complaints
against attorneys, which the legal aid organizations are apt to re­
ceive because it is the poor and ignorant on whom unscrupulous
lawyers prey and such persons naturally turn to a legal aid office
for assistance. A rulg to reject such cases has been adopted by a
few societies but it is indefensible. These cases are of the utmost
importance, not only to the wronged individual, but to the whole
administration of justice. A legal aid attorney, in our opinion, is
remiss in his duty unless he investigates the matter and, if the com­
plaint appears justified, sees that it is properly presented to the
grievance committee of the bar association or whatever other body
is vested with jurisdiction over matters of professional misconduct.
The last important matter of policy concerning legal aid work
that needs some exposition is the theory and practice of charging
fees. In the purpose clause, quoted earlier, which is to be found in
the constitutions of a number of the societies, the object of the work
is stated to be “ to render aid and assistance, gratuitously if neces­
sary.” This is a balanced phrase. When the client is unable to
pay anything the service must be extended to him free of all charges;
every legal aid organization subscribes to this principle, and no ap­
plicant is ever rejected on the ground that he can not pay a fee.
On the other hand, if the applicant can pay a nominal fee, some
of the organizations do make a charge: One definite school of
thought among legal aid workers strongly objects to any system of
fees whatsoever. Their argument is that justice should be free,
that legal aid service should be extended without any pecuniary re­
ward, that the nature of legal aid work will be more clearly appre­
ciated by the community and its dignity be enhanced if no charges
for services rendered are imposed. This point of view represents an
earnest conviction, it has the merit of simplicity, and it is based on
an ideal that carries with it an undeniable appeal.
The countervailing argument is perhaps less idealistic but it is
supported by strong practical considerations. It is urged with vigor
that the system of charging fees, however small, tends to eliminate
fictitious and groundless complaints, that when a client has paid a
fee he has a stake in the matter and is less likely to drop it, that by
the payment the relationship is lifted from the plane of charity to
one of self-respect, and that these fees, although trifling in them­
selves, in the aggregate constitute a source of income that enables the
organizations to do more work than their limited finances would
otherwise enable them to perform. That there is practical validity
behind this last argument is apparent from the following table
showing fees collected by certain organizations in recent years.




N ew
Legal Boston Cleve­ Minne­ Louis
A id




Educa­ Louis­

Grand Roch­
Rapids ester


T otal_____. . .




1 $40
















* Average.

The nature of the fees charged is shown by the following table.
By “ registration fee or retainer5 is meant a payment by the appli­
cant when he is accepted as a client and work in his behalf is under­
taken. A “ fee or commission on money collected ” signifies that if
the society through its work is able to collect for a client something
more than a nominal sum, then it may make a charge based on a
percentage of the sum recovered. The percentage figure is a maxi­
mum figure which may not be exceeded, but which -may in any case
be reduced. By “ fees or commissions in special cases ” is meant the
imposition of a charge where the society’s services have produced
some valuable result other than a collection of money for the client.

C ity

Fee or commission on m oney
collected over a certain sum

Registration fee or

A lbany...
50 cents or $1 __
_ 25 cents
Cincinnati _ _
_ do
Cleveland _ .
25 or 50 cents.
D etroit___
... _
___ do
25 cents
N ew York, Legal Aid Society
Portland, M e
_ _
_ _ _
10,25, or 50 cents
St. T^onis
.... .
25 or 50 cents. _
25 cents


Fees or commis­
sions in special

M inim um $0.50, maximum
5 per cent.
10 per cent on over $5
10 per cent on over $10______
D o.
Seldom over $2
D o.
10 per cent where possible___
D o.

10per cent
10 per cent on over $5_ _T ___
10 per cent on over $5

D o.
Affidavits, and
other papers,

Of the various societies and bureaus as to which definite informa­
tion is available 10 charge registration fees and 37 do not; 8 charge
a commission for collections or other valuable services and 37 do not.
All of the public bureaus, except St. Louis, are free. Nearly all of
the offices which are conducted as departments of organized charity
societies (as the united, federated, or associated charities) charge no
fees. On the other hand, most of the privately incorporated societies
(and these include the organizations that do about half of all the
legal aid work in the United States) do charge.




The legal aid organizations have fixed their fees at so low a point
that no injustice results and therefore no principle is at stake. In
those courts which are closest in function to legal aid work, the small
claims courts, the practice varies: In California there are no fees,
in Cleveland the fees are about 27 cents, in Massachusetts they are
$1.12. No form of social service is conducted on a higher plane
to-day than that rendered by the hospitals in our great cities, and
they generally adhere to the rule of charging patients some small
fees for the services rendered.
From the legal aid point of view the world is divided into three
groups of persons. First, those who can afford to retain their own
attorneys. Such persons are not entitled to legal aid on any terms.
Second, those who can afford to pay nothing whatsoever. Third,
those who can pay trifling sums which are so small that no private
attorney could or would undertake the case for such a fee, as, for
example, a fee of 25 cents. To require persons in this last group to
pay something for services rendered is not inconsistent with the fun­
damental concept of legal aid work, provided that the societies and
bureaus never let their rules interfere with their obligation to aid
the destitute and to extend to them freely and gladly the maximum
assistance within the power of the legal aid organizations.

To give practical application to the legal aid idea in the actual
cases of actual clients some machinery, some kind of organization,
whether formal or informal, is necessary. In the course of evolu­
tion various types of legal aid organizations have developed. As
the work is extended into smaller cities and as it is confronted with
new conditions the number of types tends to increase. No ironclad
uniformity in the details of organization is needed and very likely
an absolute conformity to any single type would stifle experiment
and therefore be undesirable. It is worth while, however, briefly
to enumerate the various kinds of legal aid organizations now in
existence, to compare them, and to venture certain general observa­
tions as to their efficiency.
First we may consider the group that we call specialized organi­
zations, because their work is limited in one direction or another.
Most of the public defender offices fall in this group because they
are limited to criminal cases. In a sense legal aid work in the
criminal field requires specialization; it certainly requires an at­
torney who is expert in the conduct of criminal cases; but in the
long run it would seem to us preferable that all the legal aid work
in any community, both the criminal and the civil cases, should be
conducted by one office. When a legal aid organization already
exists, this could be accomplished by adding to its legal staff a
lawyer familiar with criminal practice, as has been done in Cleve­
land. When the public defender office already exists, the process
would be reversed, which is virtually the situation in Los Angeles.
When both a legal aid office and a defender’s office exist in the same
city the two might well be merged, as was done in New York.
Another type of specialized body is the National Desertion Bu­
reau, in New York, that deals only with domestic relations cases.



A third type is represented by the Legal Aid Bureau of the Educa­
tional Alliance, in New York, and by the Legal Aid Department of
the Jewish Social Service Bureau, in Chicago, both of which limit
their service almost entirely to Jewish applicants and whose field
of activity is very largely among immigrants. Through such spe­
cialization these organizations attain a high degree of efficiency.
It will be noticed that they exist only in our two greatest cities; m
the other cities of the country such specialization is not called for.
Most communities can afford only one organization and need only
one organization, because a properly equipped legal aid office can
provide service in desertion cases and extend assistance to immi­
grants as a part of its regular work, and in fact the stronger legal
aid societies and bureaus already do so.
The last specialized type that' merits discussion is often called
industrial legal aid. In this group we may place legal aid fur­
nished by employers and legal aid furnished by labor unions. A
number of corporations employing large bodies of men, such as the
Ford Motor Co., the Yellow Cab Co. of Chicago, and the Youngs­
town Sheet & Tube Co., directed their legal staffs to give legal aid
to employees. Thus in effect a company legal aid organization was
established. The best description of the work of the company legal
aid offices is to be found in Miss Claghorn’s book, “ The Immigrant’s
Day in Court.” This plan has never been oversuccessful and the
experiment in Youngstown has been abandoned. The theory that
an employee who is worried about debts, home troubles, or other
legal problems is an inefficient employee is perfectly sound; but the
idea of having the company’s own lawyer serve as the agent to re­
move such worries is subject to serious difficulties, no matter how able
and kindly the company’s lawyer may be. In the first place, the
employer is apt to be the last person in the world to whom the
employee wants to tell his troubles, and if they relate to any claims
against the company itself, obviously, it is not easy to appeal to
the attorney retained by the adverse party. The legal aid plan was
generally instituted as a part of a general “ welfare program,”
which throughout the country seems to have become increasingly
distasteful to employees. The legitimate end which the corporate
employer really sought to attain could have been secured far more
effectively if it had expended the same amount of effort and money
in cooperating with other groups in the community to found an in­
dependent legal aid organization to which workmen who need legal
services they can not pay for would feel free to go. Where
independent legal aid organizations do exist workmen seek their help
in thousands of cases. A company legal aid office is undoubtedly
better than nothing, but, in our opinion, it should be supplanted as
rapidly as circumstances permit by the formation of a legal aid
organization that is clearly divorced from any employer control as
are the standard types of organizations described later in this
The reverse side of the foregoing picture is afforded by the pro­
vision for legal aid that has been made by certain labor unions, such
as the United Mine Workers of Illinois, whose attorneys are espe­
cially active in compensation cases, and the Labor ^Secretariat in
New York. This plan is not subject to the difficulty inherent in



the company plan, because the wage earner in applying to his union’s
attorney is in effect applying to his own attorney. It is a coop­
erative plan whereby the combined purchasing power of the group
retains an attorney to serve any particular member who needs his
help. The phrase “ legal aid ” connotes the provision of a lawyer’s
service to persons unable to pay for it, and under that definition the
labor union plan is, strictly speaking, not “ legal aid ” in the tech­
nical sense at all. How far the benefits of this plan may be extended
it is impossible to estimate. In contrast with a country like Den­
mark, the cooperative idea seems to progress slowly in America.
But, even if rapid strides were made, the need for the standard legal
aid organizations would remain. They serve a far wider clientele,
embracing many persons who are not members of labor unions.
The relationship between organized labor and the legal aid organi­
zations is yet to be defined and established. Their common interests
cover a wide field. It is safe to conjecture that if the facts could
be known it would appear that a substantial percentage of legal aid
clients are members of unions and that a still larger percentage con­
sists of wage earners in whose welfare and protection organized labor
is concerned. The legal reforms urged in connection with the legal
aid movement are of primary importance to labor. Where efficient
small claims courts, industrial accident commissions, and adminis­
trative officials are secured the chief beneficiaries are wage earners.
By reason of their community of interest a better understanding
between the two groups in order that they may the more effectively
cooperate is eminently desirable. Legal aid has already established
its contacts with other organized bodies, such as the bar and the
social agencies. To secure to an equal degree the genuine interest
and cordial support of organized labor is unquestionably one of the
greatest responsibilities, and at the same time one of the most promismg opportunities, that the National Association of Legal Aid
Organizations will face in the immediate future.
Taking up the organizations that engage in general legal aid work
we find that while certain distinctive differences may be noted
between various major types of organizations the dividing line is
not always clear because one type through a series of minor varia­
tions tends to become merged with another. Thus the simplest
machinery of all undoubtedly consists of an individual lawyer who
volunteers his services and to whom a social agency refers all its
cases, as in Pontiac, Mich., and Portland, Me. Next the work may
grow to a point where the social agency pays the attorney to devote
a definite part of his time to legal aid work, as in Lexington. The
individual lawyer next evolves into a group of lawyers, who become
known as a legal aid committee, as in Wilkes-Barre. Here we have
the seed of a more formal and definite plan of organization which
may become a state-wide institution, as in Illinois, or a full-fledged
legal aid society functioning under the direction or a legal aid com­
mittee of the bar association, as in Detroit.
The less formal machinery is, of course, more suitable to the
smaller communities, where the volume of cases is small and the
pressure of the work not too onerous. This is normally the situation
m cities of 50,000 inhabitants or less. It is feasible to have the legal
aid work entrusted to a group of lawyers, preferably a group ap-



pointed by the local bar association, because the total responsibility
that each such lawyer assumes is light and does not interfere with his
own private practice. Of the various plans of this general type the
Illinois plan seems to us the best. I f a city of less than 50,000 popu­
lation wishes to institute legal aid work, the natural step for it to
take is to copy the idea embodied in the Illinois plan, with such local
adaptations as are necessary. The Illinois plan is contained in a
brief memorandum which is not easily available and so we reprint it
Memorandum of agreement for rendering legal aid to the poor between the
family social work societies of the State of Illinois and the Illinois Bar
1. The family social work societies to furnish the Illinois State Bar Associa­
tion with a list of the cities in Illinois having family social work societies and
the name of the local secretary or manager o f each.
2. The Illinois State Bar Association to get in touch with the local bar asso­
ciation in the cities where there are organizations of family social work
societies with secretaries or managers and to invite such local associations
to cooperate in furnishing legal aid.
3. The local bar association to furnish the secretaries or managers o f the
family social work societies with a list of their own members who will con­
tribute their services without charge on properly signed orders from the family
social work societies.
4. The local bar associations to appoint a committee of one or more members
of the bar to act jointly with the local family social work society’s secretary
or manager in determining the general policies to be followed in local legal
aid work.
5. The Illinois State Bar Association to furnish proper order blanks to be
used by the family social work societies.
6. The member of the bar to make a notation on the report blank of the
advice given or action taken, and upon completion of the service to mail it to
the local family social work society’s secretary or manager from whom the
case came.
7. The secretaries of the various family social work societies will issue such
orders only on such members of the bar whose names have been furnished by
the local bar association, and such orders are to be issued in rotation as such
names appear upon the furnished lists.
8. The joint committee above mentioned to determine what cases or classes
of cases may be assigned with the understanding that a small fee will be
9. The secretaries o f the family social work societies will make a report to
the State Association of Intercity Secretaries o f Family Social Work Societies
who will transmit a summary to the Illinois State Bar Association not later
than May 1 of each year, beginning in 1922.

For the larger communities, certainly in cities of 100,000 inhabit­
ants and upward, the only efficient way to conduct legal aid work
is through a definite legal aid office organized and maintained
on a definite basis. For this purpose four standard types of
organizations have appeared. We may first take up the bar asso­
ciation type, the best illustration of which is to be found in the
legal aid bureau of the Association of the Bar of Detroit. This is
one of the best legal aid organizations in the country. By reason
of the inherent nature of the work its establishment and conduct
under bar association auspices is logical and thoroughly sound. The
only important objection that has been urged against this plan is
that bar associations have limited funds, and if they are unwilling
or unable to secure financial support from the general community
the legal aid work is sure to be starved. This has been the case in
New Orleans, and apparently it was the case in Detroit until the



financing was undertaken by the community fund. Lawyers are
not good money raisers, but if adequate financing is assured the
supervision of the actual legal case work may well be intrusted to a
committee appointed by the local bar association. The organized
bar is steadily assuming a greater and greater responsibility for
legal aid work, as we shall see in Chapter X V III, and bar associa­
tions have undertaken to start the work in many cities, but they have
generally either created a private philanthropic corporation to con­
duct the work, as in Boston, Louisville; and Providence, or they have
worked out some joint arrangement with an existing charity organi­
zation, as has recently been done in Chicago.
Legal aid work conducted as a department of a general charity
organization has been successful in many communities, notably in
Minneapolis and Chicago. An advantage of this plan is that the
legal aid financing is taken care of as part of the general financing
of the whole charity organization, which from the community point
of view is a sensible arrangement. The corresponding disadvantage
is that if the general charity for any reason goes down the legal aid
work goes down with it, as recently happened in St. Paul for a period
of several months. The argument that a legal aid society should be
independent in order that it may make its own appeal direct to the
community is not substantiated by the facts. In Chicago the legal
aid society, while it existed as an independent entity, received utterly
inadequate support even from the bar itself; since it became a bureau
of the United Charities it has been able, through the cooperation of
an excellent committee appointed by the Chicago Bar Association, to
increase its subscriptions from the bar to an extent that is remark­
able and sets a pace for the rest of the country. The argument that
legal aid work can not be managed by the same directors who control
the general charity work has substantial merit. Legal aid work is a
specialty; it differs from ordinary family welfare work in many
ways; the wise formulation of its policies requires an intimate knowl­
edge of the law and the administration of justice; its control, there­
fore, should be vested in a governing board composed primarily of
lawyers rather than in a body whose chief interest and training is
in social work. To the extent that the legal aid bureau is given
autonomy, with its own controlling committee, this argument has no
practical application. Both in Chicago and Minneapolis the legal
aid bureaus enjoy so large a measure of autonomy in the working
out of their own destinies that they are virtually as free as the inde­
pendent philanthropic corporations.
In the largest cities most of the legal aid societies have been in­
corporated as private charitable corporations. New York, Boston,
Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Newark, and Providence
have always adhered to this type. The incorporated society form
was also used in Philadelphia until the work was assumed by the
city, and in Chicago until the society was merged with the United
Charities. Much of the pioneer and development work that has
been done in the legal aid field must be credited to the foresight,
enthusiasm, and vitality that results from this form of organiza­
tion. Such a society lias initiative because it is free. Control is
vested in a board ox directors chosen exclusively because of their
interest in the work. Though legally independent, these societies



have worked in close cooperation with the bar and thus have secured
the substantial advantages of the Detroit Bar Association plan. It
is probably safe to say that the private incorporated societies, taken
as a whole, have made a better and more consistent record of per­
formance than any other type, and it is clear that this form of
organization is excellently adapted to the needs of the largest centers
of population where the volume of legal aid work is likely to amount
to at least 5,000 cases a year.
The chief weakness or the privately incorporated societies appears
on the financial side. The price of their independence is that they
must engineer their own financial support. As few legal aid socie­
ties are old enough to have accumulated any endowment by gifts
under wills they can be supported only by appealing to the general
public for donations. This is the responsibility of the directors
and they have never been overly successful at it. While the com­
munity support has grown from year to year, it is undoubtedly true
that many societies have been starved and the normal development
and extension of their work have been retarded by inadequate funds.
This objection may be obviated by the increasing tendency of all
charities in a community to federate themselves for the purpose
of making a joint public appeal for financial support. Where
community chests and like plans exist, the burden or finances has
been lifted in a large measure from the boards of directors of the
legal aid societies, leaving them free to devote their time and energy
to the management and guidance of the work itself.
The latest, and in many respects the most interesting, type is that
of the public bureau which is generally organized as a department of
the municipal government. In addition to the public defenders noted
in Chapter X I, legal aid work in the civil field is conducted through
public bureaus in Philadelphia, Kansas City, St. Louis, Los Angeles,
Bridgeport, Dayton, Duluth, Omaha, and Hartford. These public
bureaus give rise to certain theoretical considerations that go to the
root of legal aid work and which are discussed at the end of this
chapter. They also present certain practical advantages and dis­
advantages. Whereas the greatest weakness of the private society is
the uncertainty of its financial support, a public bureau is compara­
tively free from this limitation. Once its appropriation is made,
its finances are assured. Appropriations are made annually and the
amount may at any time be reduced but the general tendency is for
a municipal government to continue to provide steady and definite
support. In at least one city the work has been stunted by a meager
grant, but taken as a whole the cities have been more generous in
supporting legal aid work than the public at large when solicited
for subscriptions. This is apt to be the case because legal aid work
is not expensive and the item seems an extremely small one in a
municipal budget. It is certainly true that in Philadelphia the work
doubled as soon as it was taken over by the city because the en­
larged financial support made possible a larger staff which in its
turn could care for more cases. It seems likely that the same
development will take place in Pittsburgh. The practical dis­
advantage of the public office is that it is always exposed to inter­
meddling in its affairs by politicians. In the structure of our
democracy, municipal government seems to be more subject to the




pernicious influences of petty politics than either the State or Fed­
eral branches of the Government. The public legal aid bureau in
Dallas foundered on these rocks and municipal bureaus in two other
cities have come perilously near to shipwreck.
The greatest asset of the private society is that it is controlled by
a free and independent board of directors, and the public bureau is
deprived of this advantage. It is normally subject to control by a
city council composed of men who may well pass the final vote on
its appropriation but who are not specially qualified to give any
intelligent leadership in framing the general policies of a legal aid
office. As was pointed out in Chapter X I, where this same problem
arose in connection with the public defenders, it may be possible
through the bar associations to provide this needed oversight and at
the same time to lessen the danger of improper political interference.
When the Philadelphia Municipal Legal Aid Bureau was estab­
lished the Philadelphia Law Association created a special committee
to extend whatever assistance might be called for. This is an admir­
able precedent. I f such a legal aid committee of the local bar asso­
ciation can be developed into a sort of de facto board of directors
for a municipal bureau, giving it the needed leadership in questions
of general policy and constantly alert to detect any encroachment
from partisan politics, the greatest inherent dangers of the public
type of office will be guarded against.
The public bureaus have been more successful than .any other type
of organization in reaching the persons who need their help. The
National Association of Legal Aid Organizations has compiled tables
on this point which are submitted in the next chapter. They assume
that a standard legal aid office should serve one person for each 100
of the population each year, and they show clearly that the public
bureaus outdistance all other types in approximating this standard.
This is partly because of their better financial support, but it is
chiefly due to the very fact that they are public. As such they be­
come better known to the community; their work is deemed of
greater interest and is accorded more space in the newspapers; as
time goes on the average citizen learns that there is a public legal aid
office, just as he has already learned that there is a municipal court,
a police station, and a district attorney’s office, to any one of which
he is entitled to go for assistance.
I f the legal aid organizations are destined to become auxiliary
parts of the administration of justice in modern cities, then unques­
tionably the public office is the most logical form of organization for
legal aid work to assume. Justice is a public, not a private, concern,
and it would be intolerable if any essential part of the machinery
of justice were wholly dependent on the ability of a group of
private individuals to provide the necessary funds. In a republic
the administration of justice must be subject to the direction and
control of the people acting through their own government, and by
the same token every division or department or adjunct of the
administration of justice must be obedient to public control. A
democratic form of government undeniably has certain dangers and
certain limitations, and any public service is exposed to the same
risks, but unless one is prepared to argue against democracy itself
it is idle to complain of the shortcomings that follow in its train. As



the technique of government is improved so will the service of all
public agencies, including legal aid bureaus, be improved. Civiliza­
tion itself depends on the ability of democracies to develop and
maintain government^ that are competent to deal with the complex
problems of modern society. I f the people of the United States are
to prove competent to manage their own destiny, as we must believe
they will prove to be, then it will be safe to entrust the public under­
taking of legal aid work to their charge.
It is probable that for another generation at least the public and
private types of legal aid organizations will exist side by side. The
transition from private to public control will, come about slowly
and will be made one step at a time. This is eminently desirable be­
cause legal aid work still needs much development in many different
directions, and the private societies by virtue of their greater free­
dom and independence are the natural bodies to undertake experi­
ments. This has been their great-contribution in the past, and there
is every reason to expect that they will pursue the same course in the
future. As Mr. Root wrote to the delegates assembled at the Cleve­
land meeting of the National Association of Legal Aid Organiza­
tions in 1923, no one can evolve out of his inner consciousness the
answers to all the questions that legal aid must face. Progress will
be made only through lessons learned in the school of trial and error.
The private societies can afford to take chances that the public
bureaus can not, and the private offices will therefore continue for
some time yet to provide the leadership in the legal aid world. It
is natural and entirely proper for the public offices to stand by and
await developments. As experience is gained they may appropriate
it, and as processes become standardized they may adopt them.
In the long run we believe that the public bureau will prove to be
the prevailing type. Ultimately, in our opinion, all legal aid work
will be taken over by public authority, and it is incumbent on those
who are responsible tor the direction of the work to shape their
course to this end. In no other way, so far as we can see, can the
administration of justice finally be rounded out so that it will be
able to extend the equal protection of the laws to all persons in our
great urban centers of population.
To measure the extent of any national movement both quantita­
tively and qualitatively in order to reach reliable conclusions that
are not mere generalizations is a difficult task. In the strictest
sense it is an impossible task, because no single eye can follow closely
enough 70 or more legal aid offices transacting 126,000 different
cases to determine with unerring accuracy how well each matter
was cared for. In order to provide some intelligent basis for the
future guidance of the work, the National Association of Legal
Aid Organizations has necessarily been bound to inquire into its
present extent and condition and in the course of its researches it
has secured the data from which the material in this chapter is taken.
While these records do not purport to be infallible, they afford the
best methods of approach and in our judgment they reveal a picture
that may be accepted as a close approximation to the true state of




The first and the simplest test is to fix the geographical extent
of the work. W e have seen in Chapter X I I how legal aid developed
first in the East, then in the Middle West, and finally reached the
Pacific coast. When the pre-war era ended two great sections of
the country were devoid of legal aid organizations. The first in­
cludes the Mountain States and embraces the territory east of the
Pacific coast and west of a line running from Minneapolis to Omaha
and to Dallas. This area is in the main sparsely settled, so that
there has been less need to make provision for legal aid. Since the
war, however, the Denver Bar Association has created a legal aid
committee, and although no other legal aid organizations have been
established Idaho has adopted legislation securing small claims
courts for the State, and North Dakota has begun her interesting
experiment with conciliation tribunals. The second area was the
South, where the legal aid work took root most slowly, although
the presence of great industrial-cities indicated that it must be
needed. Since the war the development in this field has been
rapid. Atlanta, Louisville, and Memphis have formed incorporated
legal aid societies. In Lexington an attorney is employed on a
part-time basis to care for cases referred by social agencies; in
Columbia a lawyer has volunteered to perform the same service.
Groups in Birmingham, Greensboro, and Jacksonville are consider­
ing the inauguration of the work. In Dallas, where the public legal
aid bureau was discontinued in 1917, the work was undertaken again
in 1924 by the bar association.
As legal aid is essentially an urban problem, due to the fact that
the conditions which require the establishment of some type of
organization are found primarily in the larger cities, a test was
made to ascertain how far legal aid work has extended into the
cities of the United States. This test shows that in 1924 legal aid
was definitely established in all of the 18 cities having a population
of over 350,000 in 1920, in 8 of the 15 cities with a population of
200,000 to 350,000, in 5 of the 10 cities with 150,000 to 200,000 popu­
lation, and in only 14 of the cities having a population of 25,000
to 100,000.
In cities of less than 100,000 inhabitants the need for any organ­
ized work is less clearly manifested. Probably formal organiza­
tions of a standard type will never be established. It is in this field
that the Illinois plan seems so promising. It operates successfully
in cities of 19,000, 16,000, two of 15,000, 13,000, 11,000, and 9,000.
In the smaller cities the occasion for legal aid service generally
arises in connection with cases being handled by the local social
service organization. Any provision for legal aid, therefore, is
naturally developed as an adjunct to a social service agency. The
extension of the work into this class of cities should bq undertaken
in cooperation with the social service agencies and the arrange­
ments designed to bring about such joint effort are stated in the
next chapter, which is devoted to a consideration of the general
relationship between legal aid and social service work.
In connection with the preceding tables, our assumption that
where legal aid work was definitely established the situation might
be deemed satisfactory was an arbitrary one. It is true that once
the work is organized and begun in a community the probabilities
are that it will grow from year to year until the legal aid office is



able to care for all the cases of needy persons, but when we try to
ascertain the present extent of the work a more rigid rule must be
applied. The best test for this purpose that has thus far been de­
vised is to compare the number of cases handled by a legal aid office
with the population of the city or district that it serves.
The figures in the following table have been compiled by the sec­
retary of the National Association of Legal Aid Organizations.
The construction of this table is more difficult than appears on the
surface. The exact “ population served by a legal aid office” is
indefinite; the census figures are not always conclusive because a
legal aid office may serve a territory either larger or smaller than
the district used by the census for purposes of enumeration. Fur­
thermore, outside factors enter to affect the number of cases that
an office theoretically ought to receive in proportion to population;
where small claims courts exist they handle many cases that in
other jurisdictions would come to the legal aid office, and the same
is true of domestic relations courts and labor commissioners. The
figures have been checked with the local legal aid organizations as
far as possible, and even if they contain a margin of error we be­
lieve that margin of error is too small to disturb the major con­
clusions which are based on the table and which follow it. The
table reduces the total number of cases received by each organiza­
tion to a basis showing how many cases were received for each 100
of the population. Under the rough standard set up by the legal
aid organizations, there should be one case for each 100 inhabitants.
Thus an office handling 0.75 case per 100 of population may be said
to be filling three-quarters of the community’s entire need for legal
•aid; one handling 0.50 case per 100 is meeting one-half the need,
and so on.
N U M B E R O F C A S E S O F L E G A L A I D P E R 1 00 O F T H E P O P U L A T IO N , B Y C IT Y ,


Type of legal aid organization


of cases
in 1923

Bureau of social agency______
Private corporation_________
Municipal bureau___________
Private corporation_________
....... do.......................................
Social agency_______________
Bureau of social agency______ 3,054,000
Private corporation.................
Bar association committee.......
Municipal bureau....................
Bar association committee___
Social agency_______________
Bar association committee___
_______ Municipal bureau....................
Grand "Rapids
_ ________ Bureau of social agency...........
/Municipal bureau.................... | 139,000 /
Hartford....... .............. ............................ iDnKlin Q6I6IIU6r
^ r UullC
____________ Private corporation.................
Indianapolis _ _ _
___________ Bureau of social agency.........
Jersey City.............................................. Bar association committee-----

_ _____________
"Baltimore _
_ ______________
_ _ _____________
_ _______
_ _____________
C nlnmbns
Des Moines
Detroit _

» Started in 1924.

of cases
for each
100 of

Social agency_______________
Private corporation_________

* N o record.








N U M B E R O F C A S E S O F L E G A L A ID P E R 1 00 O F T H E P O P U L A T IO N , B Y C IT Y ,
A N D T Y P E O F O R G A N IZ A T IO N — C ontin ued

C ity

Type of legal aid organization

K a n s a s C i t y ...............................................................
L a n s i n g ...........................................................................
L e x i n g t o n ...................................................................
L o n g B e a c h ..................................................... ...........
L o s A n g e l e s .................................................................
L o u i s v i l l e .................................................................. .
M e m p h i s ......................................................................
M i l w a u k e e ...................................................................
M i n n e a p o l i s . _ ...........................................................
N e w a r k .......... ................................................................
N e w B e d f o r d .............................................................
N e w H a v e n .................................................................
N e w O r l e a n s .................................. ............................
N ew Y ork:
L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y .........................................
E d u c a t i o n a l A l l i a n c e ..................................
N a t i o n a l D e s e r t i o n B u r e a u .................
V o lu n t a r y D e fe n d e r s C o m m it t e e ...
O a k l a n d ........... .............................................................
• O m a h a ________________ ___________ ______________
P h i l a d e l p h i a ..............................................................
P i t t s b u r g h ...................................................................
P i t t s f i e l d ........................................................................
P l a i n f i e l d ......................................................................
P o n t i a c ............................................................... ...........
P o r t l a n d , M e ..........................................................
P o r t l a n d , O r e g ..........................................................
P r o v i d e n c e ........................................... .......................
R e a d i n g .............................. ............. ............................
R i c h m o n d ....................................................................
R o c h e s t e r ......................................................................
S t . L o u i s ........................................................................
S t . P a u l ______________ _______ ________ ________
S a n D i e g o . ............................. .....................................

M u n i c i p a l b u r e a u .............................
S o c i a l a g e n c y ........................................
______d o .........................................................
______d o .........................................................
P u b l i c d e f e n d e r ..................................
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................
______d o .........................................................
______d o .........................................................
S o c i a l a g e n c y ........................................
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................
______d o ............ ................................... .........
P u b l i c d e f e n d e r ........ ..........................
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................

S a n F r a n c i s c o ............................................................
S e a t t l e .............................................................................
W a s h i n g t o n ............................................................ ..
W i l k e s - B a r r e ......................................................... ..
W o r c e s t e r ......................................................................
Y o n k e r s ..........................................................................

______d o .........................................................
D e p a r t m e n t o f s o c ia l a g e n c y . _
.......... d o ................... ........... ..........................
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................
S o c i a l a g e n c y ........................................
M u n i c i p a l b u r e a u ........................ ..
............d o .......................... ..............................
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n ______ ______ _
S o c i a l a g e n c y ........................................
...........d o _ _ ...................................................
______d o ........................................................
.......... d o .........................................................
______d o . _ ............. .....................................
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n ______________
B a r a s s o c i a t i o n c o m m i t t e e _____
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................
______d o _ . ........... ......................... ..............
M u n i c i p a l b u r e a u .............................
B u r e a u o f s o c i a l a g e n c y _________
T r u s t f u n d _________________________
f P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................
\ P u b l i c d e f e n d e r ___________________
S o c i a l a g e n c y . .......... ........... ................
( B a r a s s o c i a t i o n c o m m i t t e e ..........
\ S o c ia l a g e n c y ........................................
______d o . . _______ _____________________
P r i v a t e c o r p o r a t i o n .........................
S o c i a l a g e n c y ........................................



12 0
2 .0 0


5.324.000 •
507.000 |
438.000 |
74.000 1

11 0
0 ,0 0

of cases
for each
100 of

of cases
in 1923



15, 200
,1 1

1. 55






2 9 ,2 7 0
2 ,9 9 5
1 ,3 0 9



( 2)
1 ,8 0 0
12, 500

.6 4

.9 4
.6 9
.0 3






3 20

.0 9

1 ,0 5 6
1 ,3 9 8

.3 6
.1 8


1 ,0 1 9
1 ,9 3 7
( l)



.4 0
.6 1







rSocial agency................
[Bureau of social agency.
Municipal department.

Montreal....... ................
1 Started in 1924.




* No record.

I f we add the population figures of the various cities served by
legal aid offices of which we have records, an aggregate of 24,628,000
is obtained. As these legal aid offices received 125,605 cases it is
clear that they must develop much further before they will be strong
enough and possessed of sufficiently large staffs to meet the full
demand for their assistance.
Grouping the organizations by type yields instructive results. In
the public bureaus we include the Los Angeles County public de­
fender because it carries on civil work, but we exclude the other
defenders because the standard of one case per 100 of population
can not fairly be applied to an office that is confined exclusively to
criminal matters. The statistics in the following table are drawn
from the detailed figures in the preceding table. It has been neces­
sary to include the three New York organizations in the group of
private corporations, otherwise the total population of New York



served by the three would have to be apportioned among them, and
there is no way to determine such an apportionment. We have
thrown all three into the private corporation group rather than the
social agency group because the New York Legal Aid Society, by
far the largest of the three, is of that type and the National Deser­
tion Bureau, although closely affiliated with the United Hebrew
Charities, is, in fact, a separate corporate entity.

T yp e of organization

Public bureaus
Private corporations____________________________________
Departments of organized charities______________________
Biircaii nf bar association _

Total popu­
of or­
ganiza­ lation served






of cases
per 100
of popu­


The actual legal aid work is performed by the lawyers, stenog­
raphers, clerks, and investigators employed by the legal aid organi­
zations. The number of cases cared for is primarily dependent on
the size of the office staff. It is difficult to construct a table showing
the number of persons on the legal aid staffs, because such data are
not readily available and because in the smaller offices so many parttime arrangements are in effect. It has been necessary to ascertain the
proportion of time such workers devote exclusively to legal aid, and
any such apportionment can be only an estimate. Figures prepared
by the secretary of the National Association of Legal Aid Organiza­
tions show that of the 44 organizations for which he reports, 5 have
staffs equivalent to ten or more full-time workers, 3 have eight, 5 have
five or six, 4 have four, G have three, 7 have two, and 14 have staffs
equivalent to one full-time worker. The statistics show that there is
now engaged in legal aid work an aggregate staff of 94 lawyers, 65
clerks, and 35 investigators. The organizations have progressed far
enough to be able to provide to their clients the services of nearly 200
specially trained workers. To these overworked and generally un­
derpaid men and women belongs the credit for the excellent record
that the legal aid organizations have made.
The present staffs of legal aid organizations are already over­
loaded with cases. To do the more extended work that is necessary
means that the offices must have larger staffs and this in turn calls
for more adequate financial support. The legal aid organizations are
all poor and they always have been. I f they had known in 1916 that
a war was coming whose effect on them in common with everybody
else would be to double the cost of operations they would probably
have felt that to dquble their income was an impossibility. Never­
theless they have weathered this storm. The average cost per case,
which was $1.47 in 1916, in 1923 amounted to $2.82; yet their budgets
have expanded rapidly enough during the seven-year period to meet
this increased cost and in many instances to permit a substantially
larger volume of work to be undertaken. The following table gives
50861°—26----- 7



comparative records for 1916 and 1923. What can be accomplished
in the future is best evidenced by what has already been accomplished,
and in this respect the records of Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleve-t
land, Detroit, Hartford, the Los Angeles County Public Defender,
Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Bochester, and San Francisco are note-v
N U M B E R OF C ASES A N D GROSS E X P E N S E S , 1916 A N D 1923, B Y O R G A N IZ A T IO N





Cincinnati........................ ..................
Detroit.............................................. .
Kansas City........................................
Los Angeles Public Defender.............. .
Minneapolis.................. .....................
New York Legal Aid Society..............
New York Educational Alliance.........
New York National Desertion Bureau.
St. Louis..............................................
San Francisco................................. .


G ross


12, 500




2, 038
141, 057



,0 1

,2 0


The average cost per case in 1916 was $1.47; in 1923, $2.82.

There is no royal road to finance.' The societies have no substan­
tial endowments, and they are maintained by annual contributions
or appropriations. Of the 11 organizations named above because of
their noteworthy financial record, 3 derived their larger funds from
increased public appropriations, 2 from community funds, 2 from
more generous backing by members of the bar, and 4 from greater
support by the community at large. The following table analyzes
the various sources from which the organizations derive their income:


C ity

Akron . . . . . .
Albany . .
■Rridgp.pnrt _____
Cam den___________ ____ ________________
Chicago Legal A id Bureau_______________
Chicago Jewish Legal Aid Departm ent___
nnlnmhns _
___ _
Dallas. .......................... ...................................

1 One-half of total income.

M unici­
pal aid



the bar




Com ­
m unity







C IT Y 1




SO U R C E S O F I N C O M E O F T H E L E G A L A ID O R G A N IZ A T IO N S , B Y C I T Y - C o n t d .

C ity

D u lu th . _______________ ______ __________
Grand R apids___________________________
H artford-!_______________________________
H oboken_________________________________
Jersey C ity
Kansas C ity
., .
Los Angeles _
Milwaukee __
Minneapolis . . „ T, T_
Nashville _ :
Newark ....
N ew Orleans_____________________________
N ew York T^egal Aid Society
N ew York Educational Alliance_________
N ew York National Desertion Bureau___
N ew York Voluntary Defenders Comm it­
tee ,
. _
__ __ _
__________ ______ _
. _ _________
Portland, M e ____________________________
Portland, Oreg
Richmond ... _
. _
St. Louis_ m m
m l..„
St. Paul.............................................................
San Diego
San Pran cisco
Washington . . . . . . . .
T o t a l______________________________

M unici­
pal aid


the bar


Com ­
m unity




















1 One-third o f tota l in com a

The organizations receiving municipal aid are all municipal
bureaus except Buffalo, which is the only instance in which a pri­
vately managed society obtains any public grant. The bureaus sup­
ported by social agencies are all operated as departments of some
organized charity except in Boston, where the Legal -Aid Society
is definitely retained by certain social agencies to care for all the
legal questions arising in the course of their own work.
The legal aid organizations need, and are entitled to receive,
greater financial support. The expense of their work, when com­
pared with other forms of social service, is trifling. A vast amount
of work can be performed on a small budget. It is easily within the
power of each community to maintain a legal aid office sufficiently
manned and equipped to care for all the cases of all the persons who
are entitled to its assistance. The experience of the older and more
strongly entrenched organizations is, on the whole, distinctly en­
couraging. Each year the true nature and importance of the work
becomes clearer, more persons learn to appreciate the value of this
type of public service, a wider interest in the undertaking grows
up, and as a result the legal aid society or bureau receives more
funds whether from public appropriations or private subscriptions.
In short, legal aid work must earn its own way. It must command




the respect of public opinion, and it must win the sympathy of
public-spirited citizens for its ideals and purposes. Where legal
aid work is properly interpreted so that its function is plainly un­
derstood, there is every reason to believe and confidently to expect
that it will receive adequate support from the community which
it serves.

Whether we think of legal aid simply as a form of charity, like
a hospital or a children’s aid society, or regard it as a modern ad­
junct to the public administration oi justice and as essential thereto
as is the district attorney’s office or the probation staff in a munici­
pal criminal court, it is clear that between the legal aid organiza­
tions on the one hand and the social service agencies on the other
there must be a close and definite relationship. Both are supported
by the same community, both exist to serve the same community.
While certain questions as to the precise nature of this interrela­
tionship remain as yet unanswered, there has been since the war a
rapid progress toward a more intelligent and better articulated
To-day the social agencies play an important part in fostering
and in conducting legal aid work. We have already seen in Chap­
ter X V that many offices are organized under the auspices of social
or charitable agencies. In Akron, Des Moines, and Lansing the
social agency performs most xof the local legal aid work as a part
of its own activities, occasionally calling on some attorney for ad­
vice in special cases. In Pittsfield, Plainfield, Portland (Me.),
Wilkes-Barre, and Yonkers, while the conduct of cases is in the
hands of a committee of lawyers, the social agency maintains the
office to which clients apply and from which they are referred to a
member of the committee. In Baltimore, Grand Rapids, Minne­
apolis, and in the New York National Desertion Bureau legal aid is
conducted as a separate entity in its own offices and by its own
attorneys but its funds are obtained from a parent social agency.
A closer affiliation is to be found in Chicago, Indianapolis, Lexing­
ton, in the legal aid bureau of the Educational Alliance in New
York, and in St. Paul where the legal aid offices are in the same
building with the parent charity organization whose executive di­
rector maintains a supervision of this work just as over other de­
partments of the organization’s activities. The Illinois plan for
state-wide cooperation between the bar and social agencies in order
to provide a legal aid service in the smaller cities has already been
sufficiently described.
It has been natural for the legal aid movement to seek alliances
in two directions, one with the organized bar and one with the
organized social agencies. The first of these assumed definite form
in 1921, as will be shown in the next chapter, so that when the deleates from the various legal aid societies and bureaus assembled at
Philadelphia for their 1922 convention much of the discussion
centered around the question of how to win a closer comradeship in
thought and in work with the social agencies of the country. In




the course of their discussion the legal aid representatives found
themselves forced to attempt to define the precise scope and func­
tion of their own work. A sharp cleavage of opinion at once ap­
peared. The preface to the record of the proceedings at the Phila­
delphia meeting summarizes the situation as follows:
The relationship between legal aid work and the social service work has not
been clearly defined as the relationship to the bar has been defined. This
volume reveals two schools of thought marked by differences which have
neither been reconciled nor thoroughly thrashed out. One school thinks of
legal aid work as being nothing but law work for poor persons. It follows,
logically, from this premise that the legal aid bureau’s duty is exactly that
of any lawyer, no more and no less. - That the only problem to be settled is
whether the applicant has, in the eyes of the law, a good case. That ques­
tioning the applicant in order to* obtain data of social value is immaterial, if
not impertinent. That when the legal aid attorney has given his client the
full protection vouchsafed by law he has done everything he can do and all
he ought to do.
Sharply opposed is the conception of legal aid work as a form of social service.
The premise is that the function of a legal aid office is not identical to that
of a private law office but partakes largely of the nature and attributes o f a
modern social service agency. It follows logically that considerations of
social expediency and social necessity, as distinguished from bare legal right,
enter into the situation, determine whether a case shall be taken, how it shaU
be conducted, what shall be done after the case is over as, for example, with
money which has been recovered. The legal problem instead of being con­
sidered as an end in itself is considered rather as a symptom indicating that
other difficulties exist in the individual or family which should be attended to.
Thus far the common ground between these two ideas has never been ex­
plored. The protagonists are still at arms’ length. There has been no real
meeting of minds. The arguments pro and con have scarcely advanced beyond
these two generalizations, that it is the duty of legal aid organizations to
furnish good legal assistance and, on the other hand, that legal aid organiza­
tions ought to cooperate with social agencies, which nobody disputes.
So far as the problem has been given precise statement it is this: Is legal
aid work, by virtue of the fact that it is publicly supported, affected with a
public interest in a degree substantially greater than that affecting private
law practice?
Private-law practice is affected by the public interest and this is recognized
by law and professional ethics. The lawyer has well-defined duties to the
client and to the public. The question at issue is whether the legal aid
attorney has somewhat different duties.
This will not be settled by putting extreme cases whose moral is clear and
which prove nothing. Issue must be joined on the cases which are close to the
line. For example, the legal aid attorney represents a defendant who owes
money but the debt is barred by the statute of limitations or the defendant’s
property may be saved under exemption statutes. What is his duty? Or again,
a thoroughly bad woman has a convincing case against a man of good reputa­
tion as the father of her illegitimate child and desires to compel him to support
the child. What is the duty of the legal aid attorney? Or finally, a man has
consulted the legal aid attorney and revealed certain facts. It later turns
out that he is guilty of brutal treatment of his wife. A social service agency
needs to know the facts. It is socially expedient and in the public interest
that the agency should be given the facts in order to protect the woman.
What is the duty of the legal aid attorney?
It is reasonably clear that sooner or later the legal aid societies will be forced
to find the correct answer to these questions. The issues are perhaps the most
dangerous they have ever faced. A decision, if proved by time to be wrong,
may destroy public confidence in their work or, on the other hand, deter the
poor from freely consulting them. It is obviously of vital importance that
every effort be made to discover the true answers to this difficulty.

It was inevitable that there should have been this divergence
of ideas, because the basic conceptions which will ultimately settle
the controversy are themselves in an unformed, indefinite, and evo­
lutionary state. This is illustrated by the first report of the com­




mittee on relations with social agencies, which was created in 1922
and in 1923 was made a standing committee of the National Associa- i
tion of Legal Aid Organizations. The report defined a legal aid *
organization as one which maintained an office whose primary purose and duty was to give legal advice and assistance, and whose
uty, if any, to render assistance of a social service character was
secondary and collateral. It defined a social service agency as one
concerned with promoting the general welfare of socially inade­
quate individuals, this being the best definition that the social
workers themselves have been able to formulate. The next logical
step is to decide whether those who apply to a legal aid office for
help are properly to be classed as “ socially inadequate.” Here we
come face to face with the unsolved question that marks the parting
of the ways and from which proceed the two different schools of
thought according to the answer which is accepted as correct. I f
society rightfully expects a man to pay for legal services and the
other expenses incidental to litigation, just as it expects him to be
able to pay for his coal, his food, and his clothing, then a man who
applies to a legal aid office falls within the meaning of 4 the socially
inadequate.” If, on the other hand, society owes to every individual
an affirmative duty to see that he obtains justice, whether he can
pay the bill or not, then the man in going to the legal aid office is
asking for something which is his by right and not by grace, for the
community which provides the legal aid office is thereby not ex­
tending charity but is honoring its own obligation.
Realizing that time alone can tell which point of view is more
nearly correct, the legal aid organizations, through their committee
on social relations, undertook as their immediate problem the as­
sembling of a body of data which would serve to illuminate the
situation and provide a factual basis for further discussion. Along
this sensible path the legal aid organizations are now proceeding.
During 1923 and 1924 the committee endeavored to find out how
many legal aid applicants are unquestionably 4 socially inadequate ”
because they are obtaining other relief from social agencies and thus,
are 4 known” to the confidential exchange or registration bureau
where the social agencies record the names of all persons who seek
their assistance. The following table shows the result of this in­
quiry in six selected cities:



C hicago-----------Cincinnati_____
C leveland_____
M ilwaukee____
M inneapolis___
N ew Y ork C ity

N um ber


Par cent

30. 8
62. 9

21. 6

These figures are valuable. They tend to prove what has often
been suspected but never before demonstrated, that the class in the
community served by the legal aid office is not identical with the
class served by the social service agency. Apparently half of the
legal aid clients are persons who have never resorted to charity.



They are persons who pay their way and are self-supporting in all
particulars except that they can not pay for legal services. As to
such persons the task of the legal aid office is to give the necessary
legal advice and assistance, and it is dangerous for them ’to attempt
to do anything more. Any question remotely suggesting that such
a client may need charitable help, however politely phrased the
question may be, is almost certain to be resented and the office is
likely to lose the confidence of this type of client, whom it is espe­
cially anxious to serve.
But the foregoing figures also show that many legal aid clients
are definitely in the dependent class. It is often the case that at the
same time the legal aid office is trying to adjust some legal matter a
social agency is endeavoring to aid the same family. In all such
instances cooperation is essential and the public has a right to de­
mand that such cooperation be provided for by mutual arrangement
between the two agencies.
Cooperation to be effective must be a bilateral undertaking. The
ideal is reasonably clear. When a person goes to a legal aid office
for legal help, if in fact he also needs social service help, the legal aid
attorney should be able to ascertain that fact and see that the client
is put in touch with the appropriate agency. Conversely, when a
person goes to a social service agency for help of any sort, if in fact
his problem directly or indirectly has a legal aspect, the social
worker should be able to recognize the fact and refer the matter to
the legal aid bureau.
At the present time this sort of team play is defective because the
diagnosis on both sides is so often at fault. In connection with its
1924 report the committee on relations with social agencies addressed
itself to this very point. It sent questionnaires to 328 family welfare
agencies in cities where there are no legal aid offices to see how they
cared for the legal problems arising in the course of their work.
Seventy-eight replies were received. It also sent questionnaires to
45 similar agencies in cities where there are legal aid offices, and 32
replies were received. The results of this painstaking inquiry are
sufficiently well summarized by the following paragraphs taken from
the committee’s report:
Upon examining the answers to the questionnaires it at once becomes appar­
ent that family welfare agencies as a whole do not realize the value and impor­
tance of legal aid w ork ; that, on the other hand, many legal aid organizations
do not have a proper appreciation of social work, nor do they feel any respon­
sibility toward assisting their clients who may be “ socially inadequate ” in the
correction of their social maladjustments; and that in many cases there is not
the proper cooperation between the two types of agencies.
Referring to the replies from social agencies where there are no organized
legal aid societies and confining ourselves to those in cities whose populations
are above 50,000, we find that 22 of the family welfare agencies reply that they
do not feel the need of an organized legal aid society, while only 8 reply that
they feel such a need.
It has been estimated that there is likely to be one legal aid client to every
100 of population each year. With the above in mind it would seem that either
those requiring legal aid do not go to the family welfare organization or that
family welfare workers do not always recognize legal problems when they
encounter them. Many of the organizations which feel no need of a legal aid
society have board members who are attorneys and hence, so they say, can
secure from that source all the legal assistance they require. While it may
be true that the social workers can secure legal advice from such a board
member when it is needed, still it seems doubtful that they would feel free tQ





refer to the attorney persons who needed legal aid only and would not other­
wise come to the attention of the welfare agency. In fact, one of the welfare
societies, in its reply to the question as to whether it felt the need of a legal aid
society, made the following comment: “ We do not doubt that there are families
who need free legal advice who do not come to us. People would hesitate to
come to us and yet really need advice. Many people would go to a legal aid
organization who would not apply to a family social work agency. Just as
people needing medical attention would go to a clinic who would not apply to
us.” Another agency says: “ The legal aid work, so far as the welfare league
is concerned, is taken care of satisfactorily. Probably the poor could get more
service for their personal cases if there was some way to get legal aid without
paying for the services of any attorney.”
There would seem to be proof of the statement that social workers do not
always recognize legal problems when they meet them in the significant fact
that of the 22 agencies referred to above as not feeling the need o f a legal aid
organization only 3 have a record of more than 10 instances in one month where
legal advice was required. Many o f these cities are commercial or manufac­
turing towns, and there must have been a large number of wage claimants and
persons entitled to workmen’s compensation who should have had free service
and were unable to obtain it.
We believe that it is true that except where there are conciliation courts the
greatest volume o f cases handled by legal aid societies will be found to be
wage claims, collections, and other cases involving contractual relations. Yet
an examination of the answers to our questionnaires by social agencies where
there are no legal aid societies will show that only 5 out of the 78 agencies
asked for more in the way of legal services than advice in cases involving
contractual relations.
The replies from the social agencies in cities where there are legal aid
societies also show that they do not always avail themselves of the services
o f the legal aid to the fullest extent. This is sometimes due to the inadequacy
o f the legal aid society, sometimes to the lack of cooperation between the two
agencies. The fault may lie with either or both organizations.
The answers to the questionnaire show that where the relations are con­
sidered satisfactory by the welfare agencies the number of cases referred to the
legal aid for advice or legal service is large, and where the relations are unsat­
isfactory because of the inadequate legal aid staff or because of the society’s
lack of sympathy with social problems the number of cases referred to the
legal aid society is very small. This shows that by failing to cooperate with the
family agencies the legal aid societies are cutting down their own usefulness.
It is interesting to note in this connection the answers of the legal aid socie­
ties to the question whether it is advisable to have a trained social worker on
the legal aid staff. Twelve legal aid societies answered in the affirmative and
12 in the negative. Five o f those answering in the negative are bureaus, of
public welfare departments.

The best hope for the final solution of the problem lies in the fact
that it is being attacked from both sides. In 1923 it was discussed
by legal aid and social workers at the national conference of social
work. As a result, the American Association for Organizing Family
Social Work appointed a committee on legal aid work, which early
in 1925 met at Chicago with representatives of the National Associa­
tion of Legal Aid Organizations. I f as much progress can be made
in the next three years as has been made in the past three years, the
legal aid and social agencies will be nearing the end of their quest.
Between the two groups a strong bond o f sympathy has already
grown up, the days of aloofness are over, in some cities an excellent
technique of cooperation has been developed, and all along the line
an earnest desire to press forward in a joint campaign is manifest.
While the questions raised in this chapter are perplexing they are not
insoluble, and if patience, perseverance, and free interchange of
opinion can accomplish it, they will be solved in the near future
through the combined intelligence of the legal aid organizations and
the social-service agencies.



The relationship between legal aid work and the legal profession
is simple and clear. The legal aid organizations are the agents
of the bar and they are accordingly entitled to receive from the
bar leadership and direction, moral and financial support. In the
main this relationship is understood and accepted to-day by both
parties and the *resulting obligations imposed on both parties are
being honored. There is no finer chapter in legal aid’ history, no
other development contains a brighter promise for the future, than
the record of what has been accomplished during the few years since
the war in cementing together the organized bar and the organized
legal aid work.
Because the practice of law is a profession and not a business,
every lawyer owes certain ethical obligations which are sanctioned
by long tradition and which find their modern expression in definite
canons of ethics. Each lawyer is a minister of justice, and before
he is permitted to practice he must take a solemn oath in open
court. This oath of admission to the bar, as set forth by the
American Bar Association, contains as its final clause these words:
“ I will never reject from any consideration personal to myself the
cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay any man’s cause for
lucre or malice. So help me God.”
By virtue of this promise reputable lawyers have at all times
rendered much professional service without hope or expectation of
any pecuniary fee or reward. It has been said that the first legal aid
work was done in the first law office established in America, and
doubtless that is true. Beginning with the last quarter of the
nineteenth century our great cities contained steadily increasing
numbers of persons who were legally defenseless and legally op­
pressed. The bar as a whole did nothing. This inaction was not
due to hard-hearted indifference but to the fact that no one appre­
ciated what was happening. As lawyers gradually became aware of
the serious shortcomings in the administration of justice they real­
ized that the conditions with which they had to contend were beyond
the power of any individual, and they began to undertake collective
action through the bar associations. It must be borne in mind that
the American Bar Association itself was not formed until 1878,
which is two years later than the establishment of the first legal aid
office in New York. While legal aid work was slowly developing
with the encouragement and support of a few public-spirited law­
yers, the bar associations were also growing in numbers, prestige, and
power. It is now recognized that the individual lawyer can best
render efficient public service by cooperating with his fellows and
by securing appropriate action through the bar associations. For
that reason the relationship between legal aid and the bar, if it was
to be a practical relationship productive of tangible results, had to
become a working alliance between organized legal aid work and
the organized bar.
The first conference of delegates from the State and local bar
associations of the United States was held at Saratoga Springs in
1917, and at that meeting the following resolution was adopted :
It is the sense of this conference that bar associations, State and local, should
be urged to foster the formation and efficient administration o f legal aid




societies for legal relief work for the worthy poor, with the active and sympa­
thetic cooperation o f such associations.

In 1920 the American Bar Association set aside one morning ses­
sion for a discussion of legal aid work, and also voted to create a
special committee on legal aid work. This special committee recom­
mended that the American Bar Association should amend its consti­
tution in order to provide a standing committee on legal aid work,
and said:
Your committee’s reasons for these alternative recommendations may be
summarized as follow s:
1. There is a direct responsibility, both civic and professional, on members
o f the bar to see to it that no person with a righteous cause is unable to have
his day in court because of his inabiUty to pay for the services o f counsel.
2. This responsibility is best met by members o f the bar acting, not as indi­
viduals, but in their collective capacity and through their recognized associa­
3. Legal aid and advice to poor persons are most efficiently and eco­
nomically secured, at least in the larger cities, through the existing agencies
specially created and adapted for this purpose, called legal aid organizations.
4. There should be, therefore, a direct relationship between the American
Bar Association and legal aid work in its national aspects and as a national
5. This relationship is o f a permanent and continuing nature and should be
recognized as such by the creation o f a standing or annual committee, which
should each year report to the association as to the progress, the needs, the
advantages, and the shortcomings of legal aid work in the United States.

At its 1921 meeting the association by unanimous vote did so
amend its constitution, and thus legal aid work became one of the
recognized continuing professional responsibilities of the bar in
the United States. Pursuant to the recommendation of its standing
committee, the American Bar Association in 1922 adopted the
following resolution:
The association requests the officers o f the section o f conference o f bar
association delegates to bring the subject of legal aid work before the mem­
bers o f the section as soon as may be, to the end that every State and local
bar association may be encouraged to appoint a standing committee on legal
aid work.

The State bar associations in California, Connecticut, Illinois,
Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have created
legal aid committees. How <piick the bar has been to extend its
cooperation and how clearly it has grasped the true nature of the
relationship may be seen by examining what three or four of the
State associations have done.
The New York State Bar Association appointed a special com­
mittee on legal aid societies, which filed a most admirable report on
January 16, 1920. It sent questionnaires to the 61 bar associations
in the State and found “ in most of these communities there was
little interest in legal aid work and probably no organized legal aid
This excellent report covers the ground so perfectly that certain
parts of it deserve reproduction here:
The need and opportunity for legal aid work is apparently more pressing in
the larger cities, but we believe that there is ample opportunity for bar associa­
tions to make themselves useful in this direction even in the smaUer communi­
ties. In smaller communities a separate organization may not be justified,
and the work may well be carried on by the bar association. In the larger
cities, where established agencies exist, the bar association should enter into
active cooperation.



It appears that the financial support of legal aid work is wholly inadequate
for the needs of the community, and that our profession is not even meeting
its fair share of this.
Justice at prohibitive cost, as is the case with the poor, is not justice.
Free government is in peril when justice is not administered so as to sus­
tain belief in its easy availability and fairness. Any State or society which
does not look to the enforcement of the law and the protection of rights for
the poor and weak and friendless is wanting in that keystone of the arch upon
which a stable society and government rests. Where this essential is lacking
you shake the faith of the people in government and bring in question the
fundamental fairness of our institutions. Disrespect for law and the spirit of
resistance and unrest, which to-day excite the apprehension of every thinking
man, are the natural harvest of inadequate facilities to secure the rights of
all, even though they be of small pecuniary magnitude.
For our profession to meet this issue and make a substantial contribution
to the support and stability of our institutions, which in these days is the
greatest contribution anyone can make, is an alluring achievement.

In 1922 the committee on legal aid societies of the New York State
Bar Association filed its second report. It stated:
In the opinion of your committee the work of providing legal relief to the
poor is primarily the duty o f the bar as a whole, and instead of officers of
legal aid societies being required, as they now are, to appeal constantly in
every quarter for funds to meet legal expenses, local bar associations should
take it upon themselves first to see that the work is adequately performed, and
then that the cost is fully met.

It called attention to the following resolution which had been
adopted by the State association:
Resolved, That the State bar association and all local bar associations should
assume greater responsibility for the maintenance and conduct o f legal aid
work, and to that end should actively seek support for established legal aid
organizations, and in communities where no such organizations exist should
become directly responsible for the systematic conduct o f such work.

The Connecticut State Bar Association discussed legal aid work
at its 1920 annual meeting and appointed a committee in 1921, which
has been continued from year to year. Its activities have been
summarized by its chairman in the following letter:
Our committee has a very definite program outlined for it by the bar asso­
ciation. It has been the same program for the last four years. It originally
consisted in the presentation to the legislature and the attempt to secure the
passage of three bUls. The first was to put on a formal basis the pubUc
defender. This bill received favorable action in 1921. We now have a public
defender in each county, appointed by the judges o f the superior court. The
second bill provides for the establishment o f smaU claims courts. We thought
we had this bill passed last year, but we were fooled. We have been in­
structed to present it at the next legislature. The third bill provides for the
creation, in each of the counties o f the State, of a legal aid director, who will
handle civil cases for poor people. I f this biU should be passed, presumably
the office of the public defender and the legal aid director will be filled by
the same persons. We are instructed to present this bill to the next legislature.

The admirable work of the Illinois Bar Association in devising
the- so-called Illinois plan for extending legal aid work in the
smaller cities has already been described. This plan was formu­
lated in 1921; it was officially approved at the 1922 meeting of the
association, and in 1924 a committee on legal aid work was appointed.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association considered the subject in 1922
and 1923, and in the latter year authorized the creation of a legal
aid committee. The report of this committee is especially valuable,
because it took the thought expressed in the 1920 report of the New
York State Bar Association committee as to the duty of the bar in

1 02



smaller communities and translated it into a definite recommenda­
tion, which was approved by the association. The committee’s
recommendations were as follows:
1. That every bar association in the State of Pennsylvania be requested and
encouraged to appoint a standing committee on legal aid work.
2. That this association and aU local bar associations should assume greater
responsibility for the maintenance and conduct of legal aid work, and to that
end should actively seek support for established legal aid organizations and,
in communities where no such organization exists, should become directly
responsible for the systematic conduct of such work.
3. That in the smaller communities where a separate legal aid organization
may not be justified, the work be carried on by the bar association. That in
the larger cities bar associations should actively cooperate in the establish­
ment, maintenance, and supervision of such organizations.

The legal aid committee of the Michigan Bar Association, ap­
pointed in 1923, has recommended legislation providing for the es­
tablishment of public legal aid bureaus throughout the State. In
its 1924 report it asked “ approval and support of legislation which
would permit cities in Michigan of over 25,000 population to estab­
lish ana maintain an office of legal aid as a department of municipal
government, and suggests that the committee on legislation and law
reform be requested to prepare and present to the association for
consideration whatever bill may be necessary to grant such au­
So many of the local or city bar associations have taken action in
furtherance of legal aid work that any detailed description of their
activities is impossible within the limits of this bulletin. The fol­
lowing list of cities in which bar associations and groups of lawyers
have rendered valuable service is sufficiently indicative of the wide­
spread interest that is now manifested in all sections of the country:
California.— San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach.
Colorado.— Denver.
Connecticut.—Hartford, Bridgeport.
District o f Columbia.— Washington.
IUinois.— Chicago and in the smaller cities under the state-wide plan de­
scribed herein.
Indiana.— Indianapolis.
Kentucky.— Louisville.
Louisiana.— New Orleans.
Maine.— Portland.
Massachusetts.— Boston, Worcester.
Michigan.— Detroit, Grand Bapids, Lansing, Pontiac.
Missouri.— St. Louis.
New Jersey.— Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken.
New York.— New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany.
Ohio.— Cleveland, Cincinnati.
Oregon.— Portland.
Pennsylvania.— Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, Reading, Scranton,
Rhode Island.—Providence.
Texas.— Dallas.
Virginia.— Richmond.
Wisconsin.— Milwaukee.

In the local field the bar associations have an opportunity to give
extremely practical assistance. One or two illustrations must suffice
to show what the bar associations are doing along these lines.



In 1921 the New York County Lawyers’ Association adopted and
sent to every member a resolution commending legal aid work and
asking members of the bar to support it. In 1923 this association
appointed a special committee to examine the work of the Legal
Aid Society of New York, and the association at its own expense
sent out a copy of this report to all its members urging them to be­
come subscribers to the legal aid society. The New York City Bar
Association appointed a special committee on legal aid work in 1919
that filed a report calling upon the bar to give more generous support
to the legal aid organizations in the city. In 1923 the executive
committee sent to every member a letter stating “ Legal aid is pri­
marily the obligation of the legal profession,” pointing out that com­
paratively few lawyers actually support the work and urging more
lawyers to become contributing members of the legal aid society.
In Chicago the bar association has assumed the responsibility for
raising one-half of the budget of the legal aid bureau. In Philadel­
phia, where the bureau is supported by municipal appropriation,
the law association maintains a committee to investigate and study
the work. In Detroit the bar association has assumed full responsi­
bility for the establishment and conduct of the local legal aid bureau.
The responsibility of the organized bar for legal aid work may be
analyzed into four major undertakings:
First. In cities where a legal aid organization is needed and none
exists the bar should take the lead in its establishment. In Chapter
X Y I we have pointed out the class of cities which presumably re­
quire a definite legal aid office with a salaried attorney if the work is
to be adequately done.
Second. In cities where legal aid organizations and public de­
fenders already exist the bar’s obligation is essentially of a paternal
nature. It should support the work through its own financial con­
tributions. There is no reason why the entire expense should fall
on lawyers, but there is every reason why the members of the pro­
fession should give their full share before other citizens in the com­
munity are asked for subscriptions. Equally important is the task
of leadership. It is natural that the majority on a board of directors
or other governing board should be lawyers, but in addition the bar
association, through an appropriate committee, should maintain an
independent supervision that may be invaluable in times of emer­
gency and is of especial importance in connection with the municipal
legal aid bureaus. Such a committee should cooperate in the formu­
lation of the general policies of the work, it should pass on those
borderline cases and classes of cases, noted in Chapter X IY , where
the duty and function of the legal aid office is in doubt, and it should
provide a list of attorneys to whom the legal aid office may refer
clients whose cases for one reason or another it is unable to accept.
In the smaller cities, the bar itself should perform whatever legal
aid work is necessary. Where the population is 25,000 or less not
more than a hundred or so cases are likely to arise each year. No
formal organization is required to carry so light a load. By divid­
ing these cases among the members of the bar under some simple
system of assignment the burden imposed on each individual lawyer
does not interfere with his private practice, and yet under such a
plan no poor person need be deprived of his rights because of his
inability to pay for legal services.




Finally, the bar must be relied on to take the leading part in
shaping and guiding the future developments in this general field
along sound and constructive lines. The fundamental idea ex­
pressed in the legal aid organizations has passed the experimental
stage. The necessity and importance of their service have won for
them the support of such eminent members of the profession as Mr.
Chief Justice Taft, former Secretary of State Mr. Hughes, Hon.
Elihu Root, Senator Pepper, Dean Roscoe Pound, and Dean John H.
Wigmore. President Coolidge, while Governor of Massachusetts,
wrote to the Boston Legal Aid Society under date of November 17,
Your society in furnishing legal assistance to the man who can not well
afford to pay provides him with the advantages of his richer brothers in his
appearance before the court This service upholds the honor and dignity o f
the law in the eyes o f the poor and the ignorant and thus supports the efforts
o f the Government to protect each citizen in all of the rights and privileges
which the law guarantees to him. Your society has always been, though per­
haps quiet and unobtrusive, a force in the community that made for the pres­
ervation of law and order. The future presents to the society an opportunity
to combat among the people the spread of seductive foreign doctrines tending
to undermine our institutions. I know the society will continue to receive
widespread public support in order that its efforts may not diminish.

Every bar association has as its primary object the advancement
of the administration of justice. The legal aid organizations need
and are entitled to receive a full measure of bar-association support,
because they constitute an essential feature in any plan for adapting
our legal institutions to the requirements of our present industrial
and urban communities. The legal aid societies and bureaus are
not an end in themselves. They are the means through which the
most formidable barrier in the path of the impecunious citizen who
needs, legal redress or protection may be removed.
All the chapters of this bulletin have been designed to show that
already we have nearly enough experience to construct a definite,
comprehensive, and thorough-going plan that will serve beyond any
reasonable doubt to overcome the difficulties of delays, court costs,
and the expense of counsel and thus to make the laws actively effec­
tive in behalf of all persons. The plan calls for some simplification
of procedure, it requires the adoption of an adequate in forma
pauperis statute, it relies on the small claims courts to provide for
the summary adjudication of the smaller controversies and on the
industrial accident commissions to safeguard the rights of injured
workmen through efficient administration of the compensation acts.
In the field of claims for unpaid wages it contemplates more
stringent legislation, modeled on the Massachusetts plan, enforced
through the office oi a labor commissioner. To make certain that
indigent persons who are accused of serious crimes have adequate
representation, it advocates the public defenders as slightly more
efficient and economical than the alternative system of paid assigned
counsel. To provide the necessary services of attorneys in civil
cases it proposes that in the smaller communities the simple arrange­
ment devised by the Illinois State Bar Association should be ap­
plied, that in tne great cities where the cases needing attention are
numbered by the thousands a definitely organized legal aid office,
whether public or private, should be established and maintained,
and that as a final resort every court should have express power to



assign any member of the bar in a proper case and to fix his re­
The task for the future is to integrate these separate remedial
measures and remedial agencies into one harmonious whole, to co­
ordinate them, to urge their adoption by the legislatures of the
several States, and then to maintain a continuing study of their
operation in actual practice, so that such modifications and amend­
ments as may be proved necessary or desirable in the light of further
experience can promptly be made.
To the performance of this task the bar must bring its trained
faculty of critical analysis, its intimate knowledge of the constitu­
tional principles on which our legal institutions are based, and its
highest vision. While the responsibility for leadership may fairly
rest on the shoulders of the bar, its resources and its power are
limited, and therefore every other possible aid must be enlisted.
From the National Association of Legal Aid Organizations should
come whatever expert information concerning technical details and
routine may be required. From the social service agencies which
now exist in every city, whether large or small, and which occupy
such a strategic position in their relation to this whole problem, there
may be expected an increasing spirit of cordial helpfulness. Above
all, if progress is to be had, there must be obtained a genuine com­
munity interest and the moral support of an enlightened public
opinion. This task can not be performed in a day, it may not be
completed within our generation, but every advance that is made
brings us one step nearer to a practical realization of our American
ideal that through the orderly administration of justice all citizens
. shall receive the equal protection of the laws.

This draft was submitted to the American Bar Association by its committee
on legal aid work on July 10, 1924, as appears in the 1924 report of the
American Bar Association, Vol. X LIX . This is a first draft and is subject to

n t r o d u c t io n

The background o f this draft for a statute is explained by the article
entitled “ Poverty and civil litigation ” in 36 Harv. L. Rev. 361. In the United
States this article has been reprinted by the Legal Aid Review, volume 21,
No. 2 (April, 1923) ; reprinted in abbreviated form by the Journal o f the
American Judicature Society, volume 6, No. 6 (April, 1923), page 179; and
also by the Michigan State Bar Journal, volume 2, No. 7 (May, 1923), page
202; and reviewed in the American Bar Association Journal, volume 9, No. 7
(July, 1923), page 457, by Prof. Austin Wakeman Scott. In England the entire
text has been reprinted in 156 Law Times, pages 345, 368; and the article has
been reviewed in 67 Solicitors’ Journal, 419, and by his honor, Judge Parry,
in the Evening Standard (London) for April 16, 1923.
The article points out that the United States possesses a great advantage
over England because of the existence of legal aid societies supplying competent
lawyers to work for the poor. On the other hand, this country is at a great
disadvantage as compared with England because we lack a uniform, intel­
ligent, and comprehensive scheme for relieving poor litigants of the burdens
imposed by costs or fees. No such scheme can succeed unless it is carefully
prepared. Without adequate supervision unworthy claimants are apt to abuse
privileges o f this sort. Such abuse renders access to the courts far more
difficult for poor people who deserve to have their cases heard. Indeed it is
because of the failure to reject undeserving claims more than for any other
single reason that English efforts to do justice to penniless civil litigants prior
to 1914 were nearly all failures. The draft statute to which this commentary
is annexed represents an effort to carry over the good points of the English
practice to American soil with proper modifications and additions to allow for
the change in environment



it ig a n t ’ s

Statu te

S e c t i o n 1. Any person whether a resident or nonresident, citizen or alien,
may be admitted to participate as a poor litigant in any cause, civil or criminal,
pending or proposed, before any court of original or appellate jurisdiction,
subject to the provisions hereinafter set forth.
T h is b roa d defin in g se ctio n is n ecessary. A m e rica n co u rts in th e p a st h a ve been hesi­
ta n t a b ou t ex e rcisin g th e ir p ow ers t o a ss ist p o o r litig a n ts . T h e y n eed e n co u ra g e m e n t b y
th e le g is la tiv e a ssu ra n ce th a t n o d is tin ctio n is to be d ra w n betw een th e v a rio u s cla sses
o f litig a n ts in eith er n isi p riu s o r a p p ella te cou rts.
S e c . 2. Wherever used in this act (chapter, title)—
A. The term “ participation ” shall mean and include the prosecution or
defense of any cause, or any intervention or joinder whatever therein, whether
directly in person or indirectly through a representative party.
B. The term “ representative party” shall mean and include any guardian,
administrator, executor, trustee, or other person duly authorized to represent
in legal proceedings the personal or financial interests of a poor litigant; but
said term shall not mean or include a corporation, association, or' trust in
which a poor litigant has an interest only as stockholder or creditor.




C. The term “ cause” shall mean and include any and every proceeding of
whatever name or nature before a court, judge, justice, or judicial magistrate.
D. The term “ final judgment ” shall mean and include any and every judg­
ment, decree, or order in whatever form which terminates any cause or any
separable portion o f any cause.
T o s im p lify th e p h ra seolog y o f th e sta tu te certa in term s a re giv en fixed m ean in gs by
th is section . I t w ill he ob served th a t h ere as in th e p re ce d in g se ctio n th e e ffo rt is t o la y
d ow n a ll d efin ition s o n th e b roa d est lines con sisten t w ith cla rity . In p a rtic u la r , i t w ill
be ob served th a t th e a c t is d irected to a ss ist a p o o r p erson w h o has an u ltim a te in te re s t
in le g a l p roceed in g s. H e re to fo re u n d er m an y p o o r litig a n ts ’ sta tu te s th e tru s te e o r
g u a rd ia n h a s ha d t o p ro v e th a t h e h im se lf is w ith o u t m ean s t o ca rry on litig a tio n . I t is
u n ju s t th u s t o m ake th e p o o r b en eficia ry o r w a rd depend u p on th e good -h earted n ess o f
the rep resen ta tiv e p a rty . I t a lso seem s d istin ctly u n fa ir to la y on th e la tte r a t le a st a
m ora l burd en o f a d v a n cin g th e exp en se o f litig a tio n fro m h is ow n p ocket. O f co u rse i t
is n o t con tem p la ted th a t th e p o o r b en eficia ry o f a rich tru s t fu n d sh ou ld h a ve h is cau se
litig a te d free. I n th a t ca se th e p u b lic cou n sellor w ou ld u n d ou b ted ly find th a t h e w a s
n o t d e a lin g w ith a tru e in s ta n ce o f p o v e rty . I t is a lso rea lized th a t th is cla u se B o f
th e se ctio n ca n n o t be ca st in u n iv e rs a lly a ccep ta b le p h ra se o lo g y . In N ew Y o rk , fo r
exa m p le, th e en u m eration o f “ rep res en ta tiv e p a rties ” w o u ld be som ew h a t d ifferen t.
S e c . 3. The term “ poor litigant” as used in this act (chapter, title) shall
mean any applicant found by the public counsellor hereafter defined:
A. Not to be worth a sum exceeding $500, exclusive o f his rights in respect
of such cause, and also exclusive of property exempt from execution and from
being reached or applied upon a creditor's b ill; and
B. Not to be receiving or reasonably to be expected to receive an income
averaging more than $25 per week;
And also, except in respect of criminal proceedings wherein the applicant is,
or is about to become, a defendant;
C. To have reasonable grounds for participation in the cause in question.
In case participation in a cause is sought not directly but through a repre­
sentative party, only the beneficially interested party shall be required to
establish his status as a poor litigant.
T h is section ru n s a lo n g th e gen era l lin es o f th e p resen t E n g lish p o o r p e rso n s rules.
T h e m axim u m a m ou n ts ©f p ro p e rty and in com e h a v e been ra ised beca u se o f th e h igh er
p rice lev el in th e U nited S ta tes. I t w ill be ob served t h a t th e s e ctio n assum es e ve ry p o o r
p erson ch arged w ith crim e to h a ve rea son a ble g rou n d s f o r d e fe n d in g h im se lf. B u t in
m a n y c iv il p roceed in g s th e p u b lic co u n se llo r w ill co n clu d e th e p o o r p erson does n o t h a ve
an ad equ ate rea son fo r p a rtic ip a tio n . E ven w h ere th e Door p e rso n ’ s cla im is th e o re tica lly
p e r fe c t th e p u b lic co u n se llo r m ay so con clu d e i f the c o s t o f e n fo r cin g th e cla im w o u ld be
g r o ss lv d isp ro p o r tio n a te to th e recov ery . T h e term “ p u b lic cou n se llo r ” is u sed to d esig­
n a te th e a d m in is tra tiv e officer in ch arge o f p o o r p erson s’ p roceed in g s beca u se i t m akes a
g ood c a tch w o rd a n d a fa ir p a ra llel fo r th e n o w fa m ilia r p u b lic d e fe n d e r. T h e q uick
su ccess o f a n y system lik e th is depends v e r y la rg e ly u p on th e se le ctio n o f d ign ified a n d
a t th e sam e tim e a tt r a c t iv e title s fo r th ose w h o a d m in iste r it.

S ec . 4. For special and unusual reasons peculiar to the situation of any
applicant the public counsellor may in his discretion find that such applicant
is a poor litigant although he does not comply with the requirements of the
preceding section. The public counsellor may in any case refuse to find that
the applicant is a poor litigant, notwithstanding the fact that he complies or
appears to comply with the relevant requirements of said preceding section.
T h is s ection is in ten d ed to c o v e r u n usu al situ a tion s. O ne p a rtic u la r rea son f o r re fu s­
in g t o find an a p p lica n t a p o o r litig a n t d esp ite h is com p lia n ce w ith th e p re ce d in g require­
m en ts w ou ld b e th e existen ce o f a sm a ll cla im s c o u r t o r o th e r s im ila r trib u n a l w h ere he
co u ld figh t h is case f o r h im self.
S e c . 5. With respect to any cause the term “ public counsellor” as used in
this act (chapter, title) shall mean the district (county) attorney for the
time being within whose district (county) the cause may lawfully be, and is
being or is proposed to be, tried or presetted. With respect to any cause
within the jurisdiction of (any inferior or probate court; name them) the
term “ public counsellor” shall also include the clerk or other corresponding
officer for the time being o f the court having jurisdiction and before which said
cause is being or is proposed to be tried or presented. Any officer defined as a
public counsellor may delegate to an assistant or assistants all or any part or
parts of his powers, discretion, and duties in such capacity. The term “ public
counsellor” shall also include a master duly authorized and directed under
section 8 of this act (chapter, title).
T h e rea son f o r d esig n a tin g th e clerk s o f in fe r io r cou rts a s p u b lic co u n se llo rs i s obvious.
T h e d is t r ic t o r co u n ty a tto rn e y s a re so d esig n a ted b ecause th e ir office is u n iv ersal o r
a lm o s t u n iv ersa l th ro u g h o u t th e U n ited S tates. T h e in cu m b en ts d isch a rg e fu n ctio n s
w h ich ren d er th eir co n n e ctio n w ith th e p resen t system th o ro u g h ly rea son a ble. T h e p re-

56861°—26----- 8



lim in a ry in v e s tig a tio n o f p o o r m en’ s causes o u g h t n o t to be, a s i t h a s been m ade in th e
p a st, a tim e -w a s tin g m a tte r fo r ju d g e s . T h e q u estion s ra ise d a re n o t d ir e c tly ju d ic ia l
ones. T h e y ca n a n d sh ou ld be hand led by e x e cu tiv e officia ls. T h e d ra ftsm a n has a ssu m ed
t h a t b o th d is t r ic t o r co u n ty a tto rn e y s an d clerk s o f c o u r t w ill o ft e n find i t p ro p e r a n d
c o n v e n ie n t t o d esig n a te s u b ord in a tes as p u b lic cou n sello rs. T h is has been th e p ra ctice
w it h re s p e ct to th ose sm a ll cla im s cou rts w h ich a re d iv isio n s o f la rg e r ge n e ra l co u rts.
O ne o f th e a ss ista n t clerk s h a s been p u t in ch a rg e o f th e sm a ll cla im s b u sin ess a n d th u s
g iv e n a p a r tic u la r su b d iv ision o f w ork fo r w h ich h e is re sp o n sib le a n d b y t h e s u cce s sfu l
a d m in is tr a tio n o f w h ic h b e can m ake h is m ark.

Sec. 6. The public counsellor shall on request from any intending applicant
furnish him with a form of application and shall advise and assist him in
completing or filling out such form. In case participation in a cause is
sought not directly but through a representative party, the public counsellor
may permit such representative party to make out and file the application.
In th e p a st m u ch tim e h a s been w a sted b y d isp u tes a s t o w h e th e r a p o o r p e rso n has
fille d o u t e x a ctly th e r ig h t fo r m o f a p p lica tio n f o r re lie f. T h ese d isp u te s a re sin g u la rly
fo o t le s s a n d it is th e o b je c t o f th e d r a ft s ta tu te to p re v e n t them o n c e a n d f o r a ll b y
g iv in g t h e p u b lic c o u n se llo r e n tire co n tr o l o v e r d eta ils o f fo rm .
In gen era l, i t is b elieved
t h a t th e a p p lica tio n s h ou ld in clu d e a sufficient d e sc rip tio n o f th e ca u s e a n d th e p a rtie s
co n ce rn e d th erein a n d a lso i f p ossib le th e nam es a n d a d d resses o f p erson s t o w h om
r e fe re n ce ca n be m a d e as t o th e a p p lica n t’ s circu m sta n ce s a n d ch a r a c te r . W h e re le g a l
a id o r g a n iz a tio n s e x is t p o o r p erson s m ay g o t o th em fo r a d v ice a n d a ss ista n ce in fillin g
o u t th e fo rm s o f a p p lica tio n .

Sec. 7. In passing upon any application the public counsellor may make
or cause an assistant to make such investigation as he deems advisable. He
may in his discretion refer the application to any available legal aid society
or other like organization, or he may appoint any attorney at law as a re­
porting attorney, to make such investigation and report thereon. Unless and
except so far as otherwise ordered by the public counsellor in charge, the
report, any documents or information obtained for the purposes of the report,
and any documents or information furnished in connection with the applica­
tion shall be privileged from disclosure in any cause and shall not be dis­
closed to any party or other person.
I t h a s been deem ed u n w ise t o em bod y in th e s ta tu te th e e x a c t step s o f in v e stig a tio n .
T h ese step s m a y in d eed v a r y g r e a tly fro m ca se t o case. C e rta in ly e v e r y in v e s tig a tio n
o u g h t i f p oss ib le t o in clu d e a p erson a l in te rv ie w w ith th e a p p lica n t. B e y o n d t h a t the
w o r k o f th e re p o rtin g a tto rn e y sh ou ld depend u p on his ow n in it ia t iv e a s w e ll a s d ire ctio n s
f r o m t h e p u b lic cou n sellor.

Sec. 8. All findings, decisions, and orders o f the public counsellor as to mat­
ters committed to him by this act (chapter, title) shall be final and binding
upon all persons unless and until modified or revoked by him, and shall not be
subject to review by appeal or otherwise, except that any applicant aggrieved
by the public counsellor’s refusal to find that he is a poor litigant may apply
to a judge (justice) of the (principal civil court in the county) who may, if
he deems it advisable, appoint a special master to inquire into the matter and
find whether the applicant is a poor litigant. The finding by such master shall
have the same effect as a similar finding by the public counsellor, and if the
finding be that the applicant is a poor litigant any judge (justice) o f said
court may authorize and direct the master thereafter to be, and exercise and
perform all the powers, discretion, and duties of, public counsellor as to the
applicant’s participation in the particular cause or causes, whether in a lower
or an appellate court.
R a r e ly i f ever sh ou ld th e re b e a n ap p eal fr o m t h e d e cis io n o f a p u b lic co u n se llo r. H o w ­
ev er, in ex trem e ca ses a n a ven u e f o r ca rr y in g th e m a tte r t o a h ig h e r trib u n a l sh ou ld be
l e ft op en . I f an a p p lica n tio n is th u s ca rried up it sh ou ld n o t a lw a y s be re m itte d t o t h e
m e rcie s o f a n u n sy m p a th e tic p u b lic cou n sellor. F o r t h a t rea son co n tin u e d c o n tr o l b y th e
s p e c ia l m a ster is m ade p ossib le.

Sec. 9. The public counsellor may at any time revoke his finding that any
applicant is a poor litigant, and with respect to proceedings after such revoca­
tion such applicant shall stand as if the finding had not been made. Notwith­
standing the finding that any applicant is a poor litigant, the public counsellor
may at any time or times impose such terms as he deems desirable upon the
applicant’s participation in the cause. Neither a finding by the public coun­
sellor that an applicant is a poor litigant nor any imposition of terms in con­
nection therewith shall have any force or effect except in the particular cause
and in the particular court with respect to which it is made.
I n th is se ctio n th e e ffo rt is t o len d th orou g h e la s t ic ity t o th e tre a tm e n t o f th e s itu a tio n .
A p p e a ls fr o m a d v erse d e cis io n s b y lo w e r co u rts sh ou ld be p o ssib le b u t ra re . H e n ce th e
p r o v is io n r e q u irin g a n e w fin d in g b y t h e p u b lic cou n sello r.



S e c . 10. I f the public counsellor finds that the applicant is a poor litigant,
he shall assign to the applicant an attorney or attorneys, hereinafter re­
ferred to as the conducting attorney or attorneys, to assist him in the con­
duct of the proceedings.
A ss ig n m en ts un d er th is se ctio n w ou ld n orm a lly b e m a d e fro m th e sta ff o f a le g a l a id
o rg a n iza tio n w h ere such an o rg a n iza tio n is a va ila b le. O th erw ise i t o u g h t t o be ea sy
enou gh f o r th e p u b lic cou n sellor to select com p eten t c o n d u ctin g a tto rn e y s in v ie w o f the
fa c t th a t rea son a ble com p en sa tion is gu aran teed .
S e c . 11. A conducting attorney assigned by the public counsellor shall have
the ordinary duties of an attorney at law to his client and may conduct the
cause in the ordinary way with the following exceptions:
A. No poor litigant nor any conducting attorney assigned to such poor
litigant under this act shall withdraw from, discontinue, default, settle, or
compromise the cause without leave o f court.
B. It shall not be lawful for any poor litigant to discharge any conducting
attorney assigned hereunder or make claim against him for breach of duty,
without written consent of the public counsellor in charge.
No conducting attorney assigned hereunder shall be at liberty to dis­
continue his assistance unless he satisfies the public counsellor or the court
before which the cause is pending or is to be presented that he has some
reasonable ground for so discontinuing.
D. Every conducting attorney assigned hereunder shall send annually to
the public counsellor, in such form and at such date as the latter shall pro­
vide, a report showing the progress and result of all causes assigned to h im
for conduct.
E. Should the conducting attorney or the poor litigant discover at any time
that the litigant is possessed o f means beyond those previously disclosed he
shall report the matter at once to the public counsellor.
T h e p ro v is io n s o f th is s e ctio n need litt le ex p la n a tion . A m o n g th e a p p lica n ts f o r p o o r
p erson s' re lie f th ere a re b ound to b e m an y a ffected t o som e degree b y litig io u s m an ia and
m an y o th e rs w h ose n a tu re o r exp erien ce h a s ren dered them p e cu lia rly su sp iciou s. A lso, o f
cou rse, th ere w ill be p erson s w h ose cod e o f m ora ls is n o t high. N one o f th e ten d en cies
re s u ltin g fr o m th ese ch a r a c te r is tic s sh ou ld be w ith o u t a ch eck a n d it is th e d ra ftsm a n ’ s
h op e th a t s ection 11 su p p lies th e n ecessary ch ecks.
S e c . 12. Every person appointed or assigned as a public counsellor, special
master, reporting attorney, or conducting attorney hereunder shall have a
duty to serve in such capacity. A person appointed or assigned as special
master, reporting attorney, or conducting attorney may, however, be relieved
from this duty upon his giving reasons satisfactory to the public counsellor
or the judge (justice) appointing or assigning him; and any person serving
in any of these capacities shall receive a reasonable fee, the amount and time
or times of payment to be fixed for a reporting or conducting attorney by the
public counsellor in charge, and for a special master by a judge (justice) of
the appointing court: Provided, however, that no person in receipt of a salary
as a public official shall be further paid for such services unless and except
to the extent that the court having jurisdiction over the cause shall otherwise
T h e rea son s fo r th e ex ce p tio n s in th is section a re ob v io u s enou gh. A cle rk o f co u rt o r
a d is t r ic t o r cou n ty a tto rn e y w o r k in g f o r th e p u b lic u p on a re g u la r sa la ry m a y w e ll be
ca lled u p on to ren d er fu r th e r services o f th e kind requ ired by th is a c t w ith o u t a d d itio n a l
com p en sa tion .
S e c . 13. A person found by the public counsellor to be a poor litigant shall
not be required to give security for court costs or fees and shall not be per­
sonally liable for costs or fees incurred in his cause, except as otherwise pro­
vided by terms imposed by the public counsellor or by the court which enters
the final judgment in the cause. In cases where the public counsellor or such
court shall find there was substantial misrepresentation or mistake in the
information given by the applicant to the public counsellor or the reporting
attorney and also in cases where the financial condition of the poor litigant
has improved prior to final judgment such terms may require the poor litigant
to pay all or any part o f the costs, fees, and expenses previously paid or
U nder th is s ection i t is p oss ib le f o r th e p u b lic co u n se llo r t o m ak e p r a c t ic a lly a n y kind
o f th o ro u g h g o in g o r p a rt-w a y a rra n g em en t w ith reg a rd to th e a ssu m p tio n o f fe e s an d
expen ses, a c c o r d in g t o w h a t b est fits th e ca se in hand.

Sec. 14. All fees and compensation provided for by section 12 shall be payable
from the poor litigants’ fund hereinafter defined. All other necessary fees and



expenses for participation in the cause shall be approved by the public coun­
sellor from time to time and shall be payable during the course o f the litiga­
tion from said poor litigants’ fund on his warrant or authorization. The public
counsellor may grant the conducting attorney an appropriation from said fund
for necessary fees and expenses. The conducting attorney shall render to the
public counsellor from time to time such statement of fees and ex p o se s as the
latter may require. No party opposing any poor litigant shall be entitled to any
payment from the poor litigants’ fund on account of his costs or expenses.
In m ost ca ses w h ere litig a t io n o f a n y su b sta n tia l c o m p lic a tio n is n e ce ssa ry i t w ill
p ro b a b ly be a d v isa b le to giv e th e co n d u ctin g a tto rn e y a ce rta in rea son a ble a llo w a n ce fo r
cu rre n t exp en ses o f th e cause. T h is an d th e o th e r fin a n cia l se ctio n s m ay su gg e st th a t
th e op e ra tio n o f a r e lie f sch em e u n d er th e p rop os ed sta tu te w o u ld d ra in th e p u b lic tre a s ­
u ry. L eg a l a id ex p erien ce h a p p ily in d ica te s th e c o n tr a r y . W h e re efficient p re lim in a ry
in v e stig a tio n w eed s o u t u n d eserv in g o r h op eless causes th e re ta in e d a n d p ro se cu te d
ca u ses o u g h t t o a n d w ill p rod u ce retu rn s sufficien t to keep th e w h o le sch em e in o p e ra tio n
b y m ean s o f a r e v o lv in g fu n d n e c e ss ita tin g o n ly ra re a n d sm a ll p u b lic a p p ro p ria tio n s .
B eca u se o f th e p re lim in a r y in v e stig a tio n o f a ll causes it seem s f a ir e n o u g h n o t to a llo w
co s ts t o a p o o r litig a n t ’ s o p p on en t. I f th e op p o n e n t h a s a d e se rv in g ca s e i t is p e r fe c t ly
p oss ib le f o r him t o p resen t i t t o th e p u b lic co u n se lo r in th e firs t in s ta n c e a s a rea son
f o r re fu sin g t o a d m it th e a p p lica n t as a p o o r litig a n t.

S ec . 15. In each county the amount appropriated for poor litigants authorized
to apply therein shall be held as a revolving fund entitled the poor litigants’
fund. Gifts may be received and added to the fund, and such gifts may be
made generally to the fund or limited to particular purposes.
T h is is little m ore th a n a dum m y section . In its a p p lica tio n to th e fin a n cia l m a ch in e ry
o f ea ch S ta te it w ill h a ve to be v a rie d c e r ta in ly in fo rm , p o ss ib ly in su b sta n ce . I t seem s
w is e st t o la y u p on lo c a l g ov ern m en ta l u n its th e d u ty o f g re a s in g th e fina n cia l w h e e ls o f
th is p o o r r e lie f system . L e t ea ch co u n ty fe e l th e re p ro a ch o f b ein g a b a d p la ce f o r p o o r
litig a n ts o r e n jo y th e rep u ta tion o f b ein g a g o o d one. A s in d ica te d in th e co m m e n ta ry
o n th e p reced in g section , th e u ltim a te exp en se to th e p u b lic sh ou ld be lig h t. I t is m ore
th a n lik e ly th a t s u b sta n tia l p riv a te c o n tr ib u tio n s w ou ld be m ad e to w a rd fin a n cin g th e
p la n h ere p rop osed .
T h is w ou ld su rely ‘ b e tru e in such ca se s a s th e n o to r io u s S acoV a n z e tti p ros ecu tion in M a ssa ch u setts, w h ere m an y th ou sa n d s o f d o lla r s h a v e been co n ­
trib u te d to w a rd th e d efen se fu n d .

S ec . 16. A ll m oney recovered by a poor litiga nt sh all be paid in the first
in stan ce to the public counsellor, w ho sh a ll distribute such m oney as fo llo w s :
A . H e shall first reim burse the poor litigan ts’ fund fo r a ll am ounts expended
fo r fees, com pensation, and expenses in the conduct o f the poor litiga n t’s

B. Out o f the remaining money covered he shall make such, if any, addi­
tional payment into the poor litigants’ fund as the court which enters the
final judgment in the cause may direct This sum shall be such as to place
the reasonable cost o f the poor litigant’s participation in the cause upon a
parity with the reasonable cost to a person not a poor litigant Direction of
such additional payment shall be entirely discretionary.
He shall pay over to the poor litigant the net remainder o f the money
In cases where the recovery consist o f property other than money no final
judgment shall be entered until the payment of items A and B set forth above
is made or secured to the reasonable satisfaction o f the court or the public
T h e litig a tio n o f p o o r p erson s s o fa r a s i t is s u ccessfu l o u g h t n o t t o be ca rr ie d o n a t
p re fe re n tia l ra tes. T h is is a b roa d gen era l p ro p o s itio n t o w h ich th e re w ill d o u b tle ss be
e x cep tion s .
B u t on th e w h o le th e p o o r m an o u g h t to p a y as m u ch f o r w in n in g h is su it
a s d oes a n y o t h e r m em ber o f th e com m u n ity.
W h ere a re c o v e ry con sists o f p ro p e rty o th e r th a n m on ey i t w o u ld be p o ssib le t o im p ose
a lien fo r th e b etter en fo r ce m e n t o f th e p ro v is io n s o f th is se ctio n . T h is , h o w e v e r, w o u ld
fu r th e r ta n g le title s o f rea l a n d p erson a l p ro p e rty .
I t is believ ed th a t th e p r o v is io n s
re g a r d in g su sp en sion o f fin a l ju d g m e n t w ill a d eq u a tely s o lv e m ost difficu lties.

S ec . 17. No person shall take or agree to take or seek to obtain from any
poor litigant any payment, fee, profit, or reward either for reporting, for
the conduct of the proceedings, or for out-of-pocket expenses, and so doing
shall be a contempt o f the court in which the cause is pending or proposed
to be instituted. I f any such payment, fee, profit, or reward shall be made,
given, or promised the application or the finding, as the case may be, may be
dismissed or revoked, in which case the applicant or poor litigant shall not
afterwards be admitted into the same cause or any other proceedings as a
poor litigant unless otherwise ordered.
T h e n ecessity o f t h is s e ctio n i s ob viou s. E ven i f i t w e r e n o t s o cle a r u p o n its fa ce , E n g ­
lish exp erien ce sh ow s th a t su ch a p r o v is io n m u st be p a rt o f a n y s ta tu te o r ru les a im ed
to a ss ist p en n iless m en in co u rt. We a re d ea lin g w ith a cla ss o f p eop le p e cu lia rly lik e ly
t o be v ic tim iz e d a n d p e cu lia rly s u b je ct t o th e b e lie f th a t a n y th in g in th e w o r ld m a y be
o b ta in ed b y a ju d ic io u s b ribe.



S ec . 18. E ach district (cou n ty) attorney shall annually on or before the
------- day o f ------------- prepare and fu rn ish the governor w ith a w ritten report
respecting poor litiga n t’s proceedings in his district (c o u n ty ), covering such
m atters as the governor m ay prescribe.
T h is needs n o com m en t.

S ec . 19. E xcept as expressly provided otherw ise by this act (chapter, title )
the cause o f poor litigants sh all be conducted in the same m anner as ordinary
litigated causes. W h erever the foregoing provisions for rem ission o f costs, fees,
or security, or fo r assignm ent o f attorneys, apply they shall supersede existing
provisions fo r the same purposes.
T h is section resem bles th e p reced in g section 15 in th a t i t w ill h a ve to be re c a s t in ord er
to fit v a ry in g lo c a l situ a tion s.

S ec . 20. Nothing herein contained sh all prevent any court fro m exercising
its rule-m aking power consistently w ith the provisions o f this act (chapter,
title ) fo r speeding the causes o f the poor.
I t seem s h ig h ly d esira b le to p reserve a n d en cou ra ge th e use o f the ju d ic ia l ru le-m a k in g
p ow er. T h e se ctio n in serted in th e d r a ft, lik e th e d r a ft se ctio n 15 a bov e, w ill p ro b a b ly
h a ve to be re cu t f o r lo ca l a p p lica tio n . In a nu m ber o f ju r is d ic tio n s w h ere th e ru lem ak in g p ow er has been red u ced p r a c tic a lly to the v a n is h in g p o in t th is s e ctio n m ay h ave
n o su b sta n tia l u t ilit y a n d sh ou ld th e re fo re be om itted .

S e c t i o n 43. The justices, or a majority o f them, o f all the district courts, ex­
cept the municipal court of the city of Boston, shall from time to time make and
promulgate uniform rules regulating the time for the entry writs, processes
and appearances, the filing of answers and for holding trials in civil actions,
and the practice and manner of conducting business in cases which are not
expressly provided for by law, including juvenile proceedings and those relat­
ing to wayward, delinquent, and neglected children.
Sm all

Cl a im


P rocedure

S e c . 21. The justices, or a majority of them, of all the district courts, except
the municipal court of the city of Boston, shall make uniform rules applicable
to said courts, and the justices of the municipal court of the city of Boston
shall make rules applicable to that court, providing for a simple, informal,
and inexpensive procedure, hereinafter called the procedure, for the determi­
nation, according to the rules of substantive law, of claims in the nature of
contract or tort, other than slander and libel, in which the plaintiff does not
claim as debt or damages more than $35, and for a review o f judgments upon
such claims when justice so requires. The procedure shall not be exclusive,
but shall be alternative to the formal procedure for causes begun by writ.

- S ec . 22. T h e procedure sh all include the beginning o f actions w ith an entry
fe e o f $1 but w ith ou t w rit, and w ith ou t requirement, except by special order
o f court, o f other pleading than a statem ent to the clerk or an assistan t clerk,
w ho sh all reduce the sam e to concise w ritten fo rm in a docket kept fo r the
purpose. T h e procedure sh all include notice by registered m ail instead o f the
m ode o f service heretofore required, and shall include provisions fo r early
hearing. T h e procedure m ay include the m odification o f a n y or a ll rules o f
pleading and practice, anythin g contained in other chapters, sections or acts
notw ithstanding, and m ay include a stay o f the entry o f jud gm ent or o f the
issue o f execution. T h e rules fo r the procedure m ay provide fo r the elim ina­
tion o f an y or a ll fees and costs, and th at costs sh all be in the discretion o f
the court. In causes begun under the procedure, the court m ay on application
fo r cause show n issue w rits o f attachm ent o f property or person a s in causes
begun by w rit.
S e c . 23. A plaintiff beginning a cause under the procedure shall be deemed
to have waived a trial by jury and any right of appeal to the superior court
and any right to a report to an appellate division; but if said cause shall be
removed to the superior court as hereinafter provided, the plaintiff shall have
the same right to claim a trial by jury as if the cause had been begun in the
superior court. No other party to a cause under the procedure shall be entitled
to an appeal or report. In lieu thereof, any such party may, prior to the day
upon which he is notified to appear, file in the court where the cause is pending
a claim of trial by jury, and his affidavit that there are questions of fact in
the cause requiring trial, with specifications thereof, and that such trial is
intended in good faith, together with the sum of $3 for the entry of the cause
in the superior court; and thereupon the clerk shall forthwith transmit such
original papers or attested copies thereof as the rules for the procedure may
provide, and the superior court may try the cause as transmitted or may re­
quire pleadings as in a cause begun by writ, but the cause may be marked for
trial on the list o f causes advanced for speedy trial by jury. Section 105 of
chapter 231 shall apply in all district courts in causes begun under the pro­
S e c . 24. The court may, in its discretion, transfer a cause begun under the
procedure to the regular civil docket for formal hearing and determination as
though it had been begun by writ and may impose terms upon such transfer.




Sec. 25. In any cause begun by writ which might have been begun under the
procedure, the rules for the procedure may provide, or the court may by
special order direct, that the costs to be recovered by the plaintiff, if he pre­
vails, shall be eliminated in whole or in part
N o t e .— T h e re fe re n ce in se ctio n 23 to G en era l L a w s, ch a p te r 2 31 , se ctio n 1 05 , re la te s
t o th e r ig h t o f a p a r ty cla im in g rem ova l, in an a ctio n by o r a g a in s t a nu m ber o f p a rtie s,
in w h ich sep a ra te ju d g m en ts a re a u th oriz ed by G en eral L a w s, ch a p te r 231, s e ctio n s 2, 4,
t o s p e c ify in h is cla im o f ju r y t r ia l th e p a rties as t o w h om su ch t r ia l is cla im ed , w h ereb y
th e ca se m ay be rem oved a s t o such p a rties b u t th e d is t r ic t co u rt w ill re ta in ju r is d ic t io n
as t o th e rem a in d er. T h ere is n o exp ress p r o v is io n f o r re m o v a l by on e o f a nu m ber o f
p u rely j o in t d e fe n d a n t s ; p rob a b ly , a s in a p p ea ls (G en e ra l L a w s, ch. 231, sec. 9 7 ) , th e
w h ole ca s e is rem oved .

R ules fob Small Claims P rocedure
R ule 1. The plaintiff, or his attorney, shall state the nature and amount of
his claim to the clerk, who, after due inquiry, shall cause the claim to be
reduced to writing in the docket, in concise, untechnical form, and to be signed
by the plaintiff or attorney. The signature shall be deemed the beginning of
the action. I f the claim involves more than three items, the plaintiff or at­
torney shall deliver to the clerk a fair list of such items, numbered con­
secutively. I f the clerk deems the statement of claim insufficient to make a
prima facie case, the court, at the request of the plaintiff or attorney, shall
decide whether such claim shall be received.

F o r th e m ean in g o f “ a tto rn e y ” a n d “ d o ck e t,” see ru le 12.
In u s in g th e p rin ted d ock et ca rd s p rep a red b y t h e co m m itte e on la w and p roced u re,
th e m ain ca rd fo r th e record o f the case s h ou ld be nu m bered in th e u p p e r rig h t co rn e r.
W h ere th ere a re t w o d efen d a n ts, a secon d p rin ted d o ck e t ca rd b ea rin g th e sam e nu m ber
w ith “ A ” a d d ed sh ou ld be used to re c o rd th e nam e a n d ad d resses o f, a n d th e n o tice to ,
th e secon d d e fe n d a n t. A th ird d e fen d a n t m ay be trea te d in * a sim ila r w a y . T w o p la in ­
tiffs w ith a com m on p la ce o f b usin ess m ay be record ed o n the m ain d o ck e t c a r d ; a s econ d
ca rd “ A ” m ay be used fo r o th er p la in tiffs.
( c ) T h e a m ou n t cla im ed should be s ta ted in u n liq u id a ted cla im s as w e ll a s o th e rs, f o r
ju r is d ic tio n a l p u rp oses, a lth ou gh th e c o u r t m ust assess dam ages even a fte r d e fa u lt.
( d ) T h e lis t o f item s d eliv ered to th e clerk has s e v e ra l uses.
W h e th e r in co r p o ra te d
in to th e cla im , a n d th e re fo re in to th e d o ck e t an d record , by re feren ce, o r n o t, i t serves t o
s h ow to th e d e fe n d a n t, upon in q u iry o f th e clerk, th e d e ta ils o f th e claim a g a in s t h i m ;
an d i t a ssists th e co u rt, a t th e hea rin g , in a rriv in g a t th e fa c ts . I t m ay fu r n ish th e
m eans o f a m en d in g th e cla im , i f am en d m en t should be needed.
W h ere th e lis t o f item s is sh ort, th e clerk m ay rep ro d u ce it in su b sta n ce in th e claim
w r itte n o n th e d o ck e t ca rd , thus a v o id in g th e p erm a n en t p re se rv a tio n o f a sep a ra te l i s t ;
to file n o th in g p erm a n en tly excep t th e d ock et ca rd , is an id e a l to be a tta in e d w h en p ra c­
tica b le. L o n g e r lis ts o f item s, w h en it is deem ed n ecessa ry to h a v e them b e co m e p a rt o f
th e cla im , m ay be in co r p o ra te d th erein by referen ce, u n d er ru le 12, a s, e. g ., “ See lis t
o f item s filed .”
( e ) T h e cla im sh ou ld be red u ced t o w r itin g in th e d o ck e t in a fo r m sufficient to a p p rise
th e d efe n d a n t o f its n a tu re, to fu rn ish th e b asis o f an in te llig ib le ju d g m e n t, to p reclu de
a n y fu r th e r s u it u p on t h a t cla im , and , w h en p ra ctica b le , to sh ow w h e th e r th e cla im is
w ith in th e cla ss o f cla im s fo r la b o r o r n ecessa ries u p on w h ich eq u ita b le p ro ce s s m ay be
based. M ore th a n th a t is un n ecessa ry .
T h e fo llo w in g are s u gg estion s fo r s ta tin g c l a i m s :
“ C la i m : D efe n d a n t ow es p la in tiff $ 27 .83 f o r g rocerie s and h o u seh old g o o d s, so ld him
b etw een O ctob er 16, 1920, and D ecem b er 28, 1920, in clu s iv e .”
[ I f th e lis t o f item s is t o
be m ad e a p a r t o f th e cla im , ad d “ See lis t o f item s filed .” ]
“ C la im : D efen d a n t o w es p la in tiff fo r re n t o f a p a rtm e n t 10 A lls to n S treet, B o sto n , f o r
m on th en d in g O ctob er 31, 1920, $50, less $30 p a i d ; b a la n ce due, $20. In te re s t o n sam e.
N ovem b er 1, 1920, t o J a n u a ry 1, 1921, $0.2 0. T o ta l cla im , $ 2 0 .2 0 .”
“ C la im : D efen d a n t, on o r a b ou t D ecem ber 13, 1920, a ssa u lted a n d b e a t p l a i n t i f f ; d am ­
a ges cla im ed . $ 3 5 .”
“ C la im : D efen d a n t, on o r a b ou t D ecem b er 28, 192 0 , co n v e rte d p la in tiff’ s clo ck , va lu e
$ 10 , a n d desk, v a lu e $20. T o t a l cla im , $ 30 .”


R ule 2. The plaintiff or attorney shall also state to the clerk, the plaintiff’s
and the defendant’s place of residence, usual place o f business and place of
employment, or such thereof as the clerk may deem necessary, including the
street and number, if any; and the clerk shall note the same in the docket.
The clerk shall give to the person signing the claim a memorandum o f the time
and place set for the hearing. Summonses for witnesses, if requested, will be
issued by the clerk, without fee.
F o r th e m ean in g o f “ a tto rn e y ,” see ru le 12.
(h ) T h e d e fe n d a n t’ s p la ce o f resid en ce o r usu a l p la c e o f bu sin ess, a n d in som e ca ses
th e p la in tiff’ s p la ce o f resid en ce o r usual p la ce o f busin ess, m u st be s h o w n t o d eterm in e
th e ven ue. (G e n e ra l L a w s, ch . 223, sec. 2 .)



( c ) M o s t d e fe n d a n ts h a v e n o “ p la ce o f b u s in e ss ." H a n le y v . E a s te rn S tea m sh ip C or­
p o r a tio n (2 2 1 M a ss. 1 2 5 ). O ften a n o tice a t th e p la c e o f em p lo y m e n t w o u ld be w h o lly
effectiv e. T h e clerk sh ou ld use d isc re tio n as t o th e a d d ress t o w h ic h he send s th e n o tice ,
an d i f he is in d ou b t sh ou ld send n otices t o m ore th a n o n e ad d ress.
{ d ) T h e m em oran d u m g iv e n t o th e p erson s ig n in g th e cla im sh o u ld s ta te t h a t i f th e
cla im is s u p p orted b y w itn esses, b ook s o f a cco u n t, o r d o cu m e n ts th e y s h o u ld b e p ro d u ce d
a t th e h e a r in g ; and a ls o th a t in ca se o f a n u n liq u id a ted cla im th e a m o u n t o f da m a g e
m u st be p rov ed b y th e p la in tiff a t th e h ea rin g w h eth er th e d e fe n d a n t d e fe n d s o r n o t.

B uie 3. The clerk shall mail to the defendant, at one or more o f the ad­
dresses supplied by the plaintiff, as the clerk may deem necessary or proper,
by registered mail, return receipt requested, the expense being prepaid by the
plaintiff, a notice signed by the clerk, bearing the seal o f the court and bear­
ing teste like a writ, which, after setting forth the name of the court, shall
read substantially as follow s:—
“ To (here insert name of defendant)
“ (Here insert name of plaintiff) asks judgment in this court against you
for (here insert the amount claimed in dollars and cents) upon the following
claim (here insert the nature o f the claim as it appears on the docket; but
no list of items need be included.)
“ The court will give a hearing upon this claim at (here insert the location
of the courthouse and the room therein, as may be necessary) at (here insert
the hour) o’clock in the (here insert “ forenoon” or “ afternoon” as the case
may be) en (here insert the date, including the day o f the week, as may be
prescribed by general or special order o f the court.)
“ I f you deny the claim, in whole or in part, you must, not later than (here
insert the date, including the day of the week, o f the second day before the
day set for the hearing), personally or by attorney state to the clerk, orally
or in writing, your full and specific defense to said claim, and you must also
appear at the hearing. Unless you do both, judgment may be entered against
you by default. I f your defense is supported by witnesses, account books,
receipts or other documents, you should produce them at the hearing. Sum­
monses for witnesses, if requested, will be issued by the clerk, without fee.
“ I f you admit the claim, but desire time to pay, you must, not later than
(here insert the date including the day o f the week, o f the second day before
the day set for the hearing), personally or by attorney state to the clerk,
orally or in writing, that you desire time to pay, and you must also appear
at the hearing and show your reasons for desiring time to pay.”
The clerk shall note in the docket the mailing date and address, the date
of delivery shown by the return receipt and the name o f the addressee or
agent signing the receipt
Notice shall be valid although refused by the defendant and therefore not
I f the notice is returned undelivered, without refusal by the defendant,
or if in any other way it appears that notice has not reached the defendant,
the clerk shall issue, at the expense o f the plaintiff, such other or further
notice as the court may order.
NOT® T O R U L E 3
( a ) T h e co u r t s h o u ld e sta b lish h ea rin g d a y s b y g en e ra l o rd e r, so t h a t th e cle rk m ay
s e t th e hea rin g.
( b ) T h e clerk Is e x p ected t o use a ll rea son a b le m ean s o f m a k in g th e n o tic e effe ctive .
I n ca ses o f d ou b t n o t ic e sh ou ld b e sen t t o m ore th a n o n e a d d ress.
T h e d o ck e t ca rd s
p rep a red b y th e com m ittee o n la w a n d p roced u re p ro v id e a n e a sy m e th o d o f re c o rd in g
th e a d d ress t o w h ich ea ch n o t ic e is sen t a n d th e resu lt.
I f t h e u su a l n o tice b y re g iste re d m a il fa ils , th e c o u r t m a y o r d e r s e rv ice o f a n o tic e b y
reg istered m ail d eliv era b le t o a d d ressee o n ly o r b y a sh e riff o r co n sta b le .
( c ) R e tu rn receip ts a re n o t p a rt o f th e record .
(R u le 1 2 .)
T h e m a te ria l fa c t s s h o w n
b y th em a re to b e n o te d o n t h e d o ck e t ca rd .
I f th e clerk d e sire s to keep t h e retu rn
re c e ip ts th e y m a y b e n u m b ered t o corresp on d w it h th e ca se s a n d k e p t in a n y ca rd tr a y
o r elsew here.

K ule 4. A defendant, unless the court shall otherwise order, shall be de­
faulted unless he shall, personally or by attorney, not later than the second
day before the day set for the hearing, state to the clerk, orally or in writing,
his defense to the claim. A court sitting in more than one city or town may
prescribe by general order other times for stating defenses, and may vary
the form o f notice to the defendant accordingly. The clerk shall enter the
substance of the defense in the docket, and the docket entry shall be deemed
the answer. The answer shall state fully and specifically, but in concise
and untechnical form, what parts of the claim are contested, and the grounds



of such contest. Demurrers, dilatory pleas and the answer of general denial
are prohibited. No case shall be deemed ripe for judgment before the time
set for the hearing.
( a ) W h ile th e E n g lish co u n ty co u rts u su a lly req u ire n o a n sw er, i t is f e lt to b e u n ju s t
t o req u ire p la in tiffs to a tten d h ea rin g s p rep a red to tr y cla im s th a t w ill o fte n p ro v e to be
u n d efen d ed . T h e d efen se m ay be sta ted o r a lly t o th e clerk or m ailed in season to rea ch
th e clerk on th e specified d a y b y th e d efen d a n t o r a tto rn e y , so th e req u irem en t w ill n o t
be burd en som e. F o r the m ean in g o f “ a tto rn e y ,” see ru le 12.
(b ) D em u rrers and o th e r te ch n ic a l in cid e n ts o r resu lts o f im p e r fe ct p le a d in g h a ve been
in te n tio n a lly a void ed . T h e cr e a tio n o f te ch n ic a l q u estion s o f p le a d in g w o u ld be u n d e sir­
a ble. Y et it is desirab le t h a t cla im s a n d a n sw ers sh ou ld g iv e a m p le n o tice o f th e rea l
cla im o r d efense.
A p a rty w h o does n o t m ake th e f a ir d isclosu re requ ired by these ru les risks th e im p o si­
tion o f d isc re tio n a r y co s ts u n d er ru le 9, a n d t h a t lia b ility seem s sufficient.
( c ) S u gg estion s o f a n sw ers a r e :
“ A n s w e r . D efen d a n t p a id $17 o n cla im a n d ow es th e b a la n ce .”
“ A n s w e r . D efe n d a n t ow es fo r th e co a t, b u t th e h a t w as n e v e r d eliv ered t o h im .”
“ A n s w e r . T h e p a rt o f cla im a ccr u in g b e fo re J a n u a ry 1, 1 915, barred b y sta tu te o f lim i­
ta tio n . T h e la te r p a rt co n tr a c te d b y w ife w ith o u t a u th o r ity .”
“ A n s w e r . D efen d a n t stru ck p la in tiff in s elf-d efen s e.”
“ A n s w e r . P la in tiff a greed t o d o w h o le jo b f o r $15. D id n o t d o w ork m a n lik e jo b . D id
n o t use p rop er p a in t.”
“ A n s w e r . D efen d a n t ow es item s 1 an d 3. Item 2 w a s n o t u p to sam ple, a n d w a s n o t
m erch an ta b le, and w a s retu rn ed b y d efen d a n t. Item 4 w a s n e v e r ord e re d a n d w as
retu rn ed b y d efen d a n t.”
[T h is a n s w er is a d a p ted to a ca se w h e re a lis t o f ite m s is in co r­
p ora ted in t o th e cla im .]

R ule 5. The defendant, within the time for answer, may, in the manner
provided by rules 1 and 2, claim any set-off or counterclaim within the juris­
diction of the court in civil cases. Upon the making of such claim by the
defendant, the clerk shall give a notice to the plaintiff, at the expense of the
defendant, similar to that provided by rule 3, and shall postpone the hearing
of the original claim until the time set for hearing the defendant’s claim, and
shall notify the parties accordingly. The defendant’s claim shall be answered
within the time and in the manner provided by rule 4, and the penalties upon
defendants provided by said rule shall apply to plaintiffs in respect to claims
by a defendant. The original claim, and the claim of set-off or counterclaim,
shall be deemed one case.

( a ) I f th e p la in tiff ch ooses to a d o p t th is p roced u re it is su b m itted th a t he a d o p ts i t
s u b je ct to its ru les fo r set-off an d cou n tercla im . See A ld r ic h v . E . W . B la tc h fo r d & Co.
(1 7 5 M ass. 3 6 9 ). T h e d efen d a n t, seekin g to a v a il h im se lf o f th is se t-off ra th e r th a n a
s et-off o f ju d g m en ts w h ich th e co u rts h a v e in h eren t p ow e r t o a llo w (F ra n k s v . E d in berg,
185 M ass. 4 9 ) , ca n have, it is su b m itted , n o cause to com p la in i f the re s u lt hap p en s to be
u n fa v ora b le.
(b ) A set-off o r cou n tercla im m ay be record ed u p on a p rin te d d o ck e t ca rd b e a rin g th e
n u m b er o f th e case w ith “ B ” ad d ed.
R u l e 6 . The court may at any time allow any claim or answer to be amended.
Interrogatories shall not be filed, nor depositions taken, except by leave of
( a ) A m en d m en ts m ay b e m ad e w ith o u t a n y w r itte n m o tio n , and th e a m en d m en t m ay
be n o te d on th e b ack o f th e d ock et ca rd .
(b ) In te rro g a to r ie s a n d d ep osition s, i f a llow ed , w o u ld d e la y ca ses in te n d e d to be
sp eed ily heard .

Rule 7. Witnesses shall be sworn; but the court shall conduct the hearing
in such order and form and with such methods of proof as it deems best suited
to discover the facts and to determine the justice of the case. I f the plaintiff
does not appear at any time set for hearing, the court may dismiss the claim
for want of prosecution, or enter a finding on the merits for the defendant, or
make such other disposition as may be proper.

S ee C om . v . R o se n b la tt (2 1 9 M ass. 1 9 7 ).
(b ) U nd er sm all cla im s p roced u re th e ju d g e is an in v e stig a to r , n o t m erely an umpire..
H e, ra th e r th a n cou n sel o r p a rties, is in a ctiv e ch a rge o f th e p ro ce e d in g s. T o a llo w
h ea rin g s to be d elay ed o r p ostp on ed on a cco u n t o f en gagem en ts o f cou n sel is c o n tr a r y to
th e s p ir it o f th e sta tu te a n d su b versive o f th e p roced u re.
( c ) L a ym en p resen tin g th e ir ow n ca ses ca n n o t be e x p e cte d to co m p ly w ith a ll th e
te ch n ic a l ru les o f evid en ce an d tria ls th a t th e d esire to p re v e n t p re ju d ice in ju r y tria ls
has d evelop ed . “ T h e g rea test a n d m o st rem a rka b le o ffsh o o t o f th e ju r y w a s th a t b od y
o f e x clu d in g ru les w h ich ch iefly co n s titu te th e E n g lish ‘ la w o f e v id e n c e /
* *
S h a rp ly and t e ch n ic a lly used, th ese ru le s enable a m an to g o f a r in w o r r y in g a n in e x ­
(a )



p erien ced o r Ill-p rep a red a d v e rs a ry an d in s u p p o rtin g a w o r th le s s ca se.”
(T h a y e r , P re ­
lim in a ry T re a tise o n E vid en ce, 180, 5 2 8 .)
O n ly t h e e sse n tia l p rin c ip le s o f ju s t ic e in
p roced u re a re u s e fu l t o a ju d ic ia l in v e stig a to r w ith o u t a ju r y .
(d )
W h ere th e p la in tiff w ith o u t cause fa ils t o p ro s e cu te h is cla im i t is b eliev ed th a t
th e c o u r t sh ou ld h a v e p o w e r t o en ter a ju d g m e n t on th e m e rits an d en d th e co n tr o v e rs y .
(S e e C arp en ter, e tc., v . N . Y ., N . H . & H . R . R . C o., 184 M ass. 9 8 ; K y le v . R e y n o ls, 211
M a ss. 1 1 0 .)
T h is p o w e r sh ou ld n o t be e x ercised , h ow ever, e x c e p t t o p re v e n t op p re ssio n .

B tjle 8. No process o f mesne attachment shall issue under this procedure,
except upon the order o f the court. Such order shall state the amount of the
attachment and the property or credits to be attached. The form o f the process
shall be substantially that required for supplementary process in ordinary civil
B tjle 9. The actual cash disbursements of the prevailing party for entry
fee, mailing fees, witness fees and officers’ fees shall be allowed as costs.
No other costs shall be allowed either party, except by special order of the
court. The court shall have power in its discretion to award costs, in a sum
fixed by the court, not exceeding $25 (exclusive of such cash disbursements,
or in addition thereto) against any party, whether the prevailing party or
not, who has set up a frivolous or vexatious claim or defense, or has made
an unfair, insufficient or misleading answer, or has otherwise sought to
hamper a party or the court in securing a speedy determination o f the claim
upon its merits; and to enter judgment and issue execution therefor, or set
off such costs against damages or costs, as justice may require.

T h e d isc re tio n a r y p o w e r t o a w a rd co s ts w ill ten d t o m ake ju s t ic e sp e e d y a n d efficien t
an d t o p re v e n t in te n tio n a l d e la y a n d trick e ry . W h ere th e d isc re tio n a r y c o s t s g o a g a in st
t h e lo s in g p a rty th e y w ill be in clu d ed in th e ju d g m en t. W h e re th e y g o a g a in s t th e p re­
v a ilin g p a rty th e y m ay be se t off o r m ad e th e s u b je ct o f a sep a ra te ju d g m e n t a n d e xecu ­
t io n — n o t a n o v e lty in o u r la w .
(G en era l L a w s, ch . 2 61 , secs. 3, 2 2 ; W ix o n v . M a rcu s,
174 M ass. 6 7 .)

B ulb 10. The court may order that the judgment shall be paid to the pre­
vailing party, or, if it so order, into court for the use of the prevailing party,
at a certain date or by specified installments, and may stay the issue o f execu­
tion and other supplementary process during compliance with such order.
Such stay "shall at all times be subject to being modified or vacated.

A ft e r t h e h e a rin g o n th e m erits, o r a fte r d e fa u lt on th e m e rits, t h e c o u r t m ay , a t th e
tim e se t fo r th e h ea rin g , co n sid e r th e q u estion o f s ta y o f e x e cu tio n . O fte n th e w h o le
d efen se, in o rd in a ry c iv il a ctio n s, is ca u sed b y a d esire t o secu re a s ta y o f e x e c u t io n ;
i f s u ch s ta y is a u th o riz e d it w ill ten d t o s ecu re speed y ju s t ic e w it h o u t o p p re s sio n . T h e
c o u r t n eed n o t fe e l b ou n d t o co n sid e r a s ta y a sked b y a d e fa u lte d d e fe n d a n t w h o ha s n o t
a sk ed f o r a s ta y a cco r d in g t o th e term s o f th e n o tic e t o h im .
(R u le 3 .)

B ule 11. The court may at any time upon motion, and after such notice,
by mail or otherwise, as it may order, for cause shown vacate any judgment
entered under this procedure, for want of actual notice to a party, for error,
or for any other cause that the court may deem sufficient, and may stay or
supersede execution. The court may also order the repayment of anything
collected under such judgment, and may enter judgment and issue execution
therefor; but no order shall affect the title of any bona fide holder for value
under said judgment. Costs in an amount fixed by the court not exceeding
$25 may be awarded, in the discretion of the court, for or against either party
to a motion to vacate judgment, and judgment may be entered and execution
may be issued therefor, and any action by the court may be made conditional
upon the payment o f such costs or the performance of any other proper con­
NOT® T O R U LE 11

T h e v a c a t io n o f ju d g m e n t “ on m o tio n ,” i. e., b y a p p lica tio n in t h e sam e ca se, is m uch
m ore sim p le th a n e x is tin g m eth od s. No w r itin g is req u ired , o n ly a n e n try in th e d o ck e t.
(R u le 1 2 .)
P ro c e e d in g s u p on su ch a m o tio n m ay b e re co rd e d u p o n a n u n p rin te d d o ck e t
ca rd b e a r in g th e n u m b er o f th e ca se w ith “ C ” added.
T h is ru le co v e rs th e ca ses w ith in th e s cop e o f m otio n s a n d p e titio n s t o v a c a t e ju d g ­
m en t a n d w r its a n d b ills o f rev iew .
(S ee G en era l L a w s, ch . 2 5 0 .)
W h ile b ro a d a n d
s im p le, t h e p ro v is io n f o r d is c re tio n a r y c o s ts w ill p re v e n t it s abuse.
T h is ru le d oes n o t p re v e n t th e co u rt fr o m c o r r e c tin g its re co rd , o f its o w n m o tio n ,
u n d er its in h e r e n t p o w e r, t o c o n fo rm t o th e tru th .
(K a r r ic k v . W e tm o re , 2 1 0 M ass. 5 7 8 ;
H a th a w a y v . C o n g re g a tio n O hab S halom , 216 M ass. 5 3 9 ; W a u ca n tu ck M ills v . M agee
C a rp et C o., 2 2 5 M ass. 3 1 ; W e tm ore v . K a rr ic k , 2 0 5 U . S. 1 4 1 .)

B ule 12. The docket shall consist of cards, envelopes, or folders, and such
other documents as may be incorporated therein by reference. Nothing shall



be deemed part o f the record except the docket entries. Any written papers
delivered to the clerk shall be merely authority for the clerk to enter the
substance thereof on the docket and such papers need not be filed or preserved.
The word “ clerk ” in these rules shall include an assistant clerk. The word
“ attorney ” in these rules shall mean an attorney at law, a person specially
authorized in writing to prosecute or defend the claim, one of a number of
partners or joint plaintiffs acting for all, or an officer, manager, or local
manager o f a corporation acting for it. Notice to such attorney for a party
shall be equivalent to notice to such party.

( a ) T h e a ccu m u la tio n o f a m ass o f cla im s, a n sw ers, m o tio n s, le tte rs a n d o th e r p a p ers,
d ra w n b y th e p a rties, w ou ld be a n u isa n ce. E ven th e re tu rn re ce ip t does n o t becom e
p a rt o f th e d ock et o r record . A lis t o f item s b ecom es p a rt o f th e d o ck e t an d re c o rd o n ly
w h en in co r p o ra te d in t o th e cla im b y referen ce, as, e. g., “ S ee lis t o f ite m s filed .”
file n o th in g p erm a n en tly ex cep t a sin gle d ock et ca rd is a n id e a l to be a tta in e d w h en
p ra ctica b le.
(b ) T h e u s e o f th e 5 b y 8 p rin ted d ock et ca rd s p rep a re d b y th e co m m itte e o n la w and
p roced u re a n d p rin te d b y th e L ib ra ry B ureau, 43 F ed era l S treet, B o sto n , is recom m end ed .
T h ese ca rd s a re p rin te d fro m p la te s ow n ed b y th e A s s o cia tio n o f J u stice s o f D is tr ic t
C ou rts. T h e nam e o f th e p a rtic u la r co u rt o rd e rin g ca rd s is p rin te d in th e m argin .
F ilin g en v elop es, 5 b y 8, t o be nu m bered lik e th e d ock e t ca rd s, fo r th e te m p o ra ry o r
p erm a n en t filin g o f lis ts o f item s, etc., a re a lso u sefu l. F ilin g d e v ice s f o r su ch ca rd s
a n d en v elop es a re re a d ily procu ra ble.
( c ) In sm a ll co u rts th e d ock et ca rd s them selves, filed w ith a n y a cco m p a n y in g e n v e lo p e s
by th e nam es o f th e d efen d a n ts, m ay co n s titu te a sufficient in d ex. In la rg e r co u rts th e
d ock et ca rd s a n d a n y a cco m p a n y in g en v elop es w o u ld b e tte r be filed a n d n u m b ered c h ro n o ­
lo g ica lly , w ith a ca rd in d ex fo r p la in tiffs a n d d efen d a n ts.

R ule 13. The venue shall be the same as in ordinary civil actions. Rules o f
practice in ordinary civil actions, which are applicable to this procedure and
not inconsistent with these rules, shall apply to cases under this procedure.
R ule 14. Upon removal of a cause to the superior court, the original docket
entries, or, in case o f removal by some of several defendants, an attested copy
thereof, shall be transmitted to the clerk of the superior court.
R ule 15. In actions of contract or tort, other than slander and libel, here­
after begun by writ, in which the recovery o f debt or damages does not exceed
$35, no costs other than the taxable cash disbursements shall be recovered by
the plaintiff, except by special order of the court for cause shown.

The figures have been secured from the reports o f such organizations as
publish reports and by direct correspondence with other organizations. In
a few instances where exact figures were not available reliable approximations
furnished by responsible officials have been used. The detailed statistics begin
with the year 1905 and continue through 1923. For the few organizations that
existed prior to 1905, only the total figure to 1905 is stated. The detailed
annual figures for such organizations can be found in the tables appended to
“ Justice and the Poor,” published by the Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement o f Teaching, copies o f which may be obtained by request
addressed to the foundation at 522 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Where the
fiscal year of an organization does not coincide with the calendar year, the figure
has been placed in the column opposite the later calendar year; thus a figure
for a fiscal year o f 1922-23 has been placed in the column opposite the cal­
endar year 1923.
The first three tables, giving figures for separate organizations, include only
those organizations for which we have data extending over a considerable
number o f years. These are followed by a summary table which includes
figures for all organizations combined, so far as data are available.


Y ear

B a lti­
B o s to n
m ore

T o t a l _____________

3 60
2 75
2 74
4 ,3 3 2

1 ,4 0 5
1 ,0 8 5
1 ,1 0 7
1 ,1 7 5
1 ,1 1 4
1 ,0 4 1
1 ,1 5 4
1 ,3 5 2
2, 229
2 ,6 0 8
4 ,1 9 6
5 ,1 7 8
4, 770
4, 646
5 ,2 3 3
6 ,7 3 2
, 742

5 4 ,1 3 4


1 ,4 7 1
1 ,3 5 8
1, 478

1 ,3 8 4
1, 257
1 ,5 1 6
2 ,0 8 9
2 ,0 1 9
2 ,4 1 7
2 ,0 4 7
2 ,8 1 5
3 ,1 8 6
3 ,4 1 6

1 0 6 ,0 1 7
2 ,9 2 9
4 ,9 6 5
4 ,9 9 0
6 ,1 6 9
5 ,1 0 2
, 282
8 ,4 4 2
1 3 ,9 0 4
15, 409
1 6 ,1 2 1
1 0 ,6 7 4
1 0 ,6 9 7
1 2 ,9 5 1
1 1 ,2 6 5
8 ,2 9 3
, 432
1 2 ,4 9 1
14, 254
1 6 ,2 2 7

3 ,1 2 4
3, 515
4 ,1 6 7
4 ,7 4 7
2 ,5 3 7
4 ,6 8 5

23, 742

295, 604


C in ­
cin ­
n a ti

D e­
tro it


1 ,6 9 8
1, 762
1 ,4 4 6
1 ,1 0 7
1 ,0 1 6

, 208
1 ,1 5 8
1 ,3 8 2
1, 533
2 ,4 3 5
3 ,9 2 5
5, 805
4 ,9 4 6
, 580
6 ,6 2 4
6 ,7 8 1
7 ,2 8 6
7 ,4 0 9
7 ,1 5 5
5 ,9 4 8

2 ,3 6 4
3 ,1 1 2
5, 450
2 ,8 0 3

34, 750

1 4 ,8 2 4

7 2 ,1 4 4

1 5 ,9 0 4


D u­
lu th

K an­
C ity

M il­
w au­

M in ­
o li s
L egal
A id

N ew
O r­
le a n s

1 ,1 7 9
1 ,5 0 9



2 ,2 9 4
4, 564
5 ,6 2 9
4, 571
2 ,4 1 8
2, 502
2, 287
2, 4 24
2 ,8 4 0
2 ,9 5 8

2 ,3 1 3
5, 406
5, 354
, 573
5 .2 7 0
5 .2 7 0
5 ,2 3 8
6 ,6 4 9
5, 092
4, 8 96
4, 013
4 ,1 6 3

3 3 ,0 9 4

6 , 439

N ew
Y ork
L egal
A id
S o c ie ty

6 ,0 0 7
5 ,9 1 7
, 263
8 ,0 7 8
9 ,6 3 0
1 4 ,0 0 0

1 ,1 7 4
1 ,1 8 3
1 ,3 5 2
1, 410
1, 411
1, 549
1 ,7 8 2

1, 039
1, 905
1 ,9 6 5
3 ,0 2 9
2, 506
1 ,0 9 4
1 ,0 7 7
1 ,4 6 0
1, 496
1, 701
1, 559

1 ,1 9 6
1 ,0 2 7
1, 223

1 8 5 ,5 4 4
2 1 ,3 7 2
2 3 ,1 7 5
2 6 ,3 9 9
3 1 ,0 3 6
3 0 ,1 0 5
3 2 ,4 4 9
33, 809
37, 796
3 9 ,1 8 9
40, 4 30
42, 0 00
4 1 ,6 4 6
44, 620
38, 287
34, 355
30, 466
2 6 ,2 9 4
3 0 ,1 2 8
29, 2 70

8 8 ,9 8 3

1 0 ,1 5 8

1 8 ,8 3 1

6 ,2 9 6

8 1 8 ,3 7 0



1No exact record; about 2,700 during 1917 to 1922, inclusive.

3 ,1 9 9

6 1 0 ,3 9 1
6 2 2 1 0 ,2 7 7
8 ,8 4 8
6, 373

1 01

N ew
N ew
Y ork
Y ork
N a­
P h ila ­
R o­
E d u c a ­ tio n a l
P itts ­
d e l­
ch es­
b u rgh
tio n a l
D eser­
p h ia
te r
tio n
A lli­
an ce
rea u

7 ,1 8 7

8 98
1, 252
1 ,0 0 9
1, 391
1, 337
1, 309

1, 278
1 ,1 6 5
1, 422
1 ,3 3 3
1 ,4 7 7
1 ,8 1 6
2 ,5 1 4
3 ,4 7 6
3 ,8 7 4
4 ,2 9 0
4 ,8 4 5
4 ,9 7 2
5 ,0 2 6
5 ,3 0 1
6 ,9 9 1
1 3 ,4 0 4
12, 231
12, 500

14, 3 14

8 9 ,1 8 2

6 371
5 ,4 3 1
6 993
7, 737
7, 445
4, 324
4 ,4 0 2
7 ,6 8 7
2, 584
7 ,9 9 7
6 ,7 1 5
5 ,7 8 8
,3 7 5
4 ,9 9 2
4 ,3 9 7
3 ,9 8 6
4 ,4 3 0
4, 706
4 ,6 3 0
1 1 4 ,1 7 7


1 ,0 9 1
1, 097
1 ,0 9 8



S t.
L o u is


1 ,0 5 6

2 ,0 5 7
1 ,8 5 9
1 ,9 0 5
1 ,2 3 5
1 ,3 1 4
1 ,4 2 6
1 ,3 7 6
1 ,3 5 1
1 ,3 1 3
1 ,5 3 1
14, 457

7 ,2 0 4

7 ,3 0 6

30, 547


C le v e ­
la n d

L os
g e le s
P u b lic
D e­
fe n d e r


P r i o r t o 1 9 0 5 ......................
1 9 0 5 ...........................................
1 9 0 6 ........................................
1 9 0 7 ...........................................
1 9 0 8 ...........................................
1 9 0 9 ...........................................
1 9 1 0 ..........................................
1 9 1 1 ...........................................
.......... .............
.......... .............
.......... ..

B u f­
fa lo

C h i­
C h ica g o J e w is h
L egal
L egal
A id
A id
B ureau
D e­
p a rt­
m ent





$ 8 ,4 1 6
5 ,9 1 7

6 ,1 3 1
3 ,9 8 9
4 ,0 0 5
2 5 ,1 9 5
2 2 ,8 0 8
4 7 , 556
5 2 ,1 8 0
9 0 ,5 4 2
5 4 ,0 4 6
4 4 ,4 5 7
2 6, 524
4 4 ,2 6 0

$ 94 8
2 ,8 8 1
3 ,1 2 8
4 ,1 9 6
4 .1 5 3
4 .1 5 3
4 .1 5 3
3 1 ,0 4 8
2 7 ,6 6 2

$ 1 2 5 ,8 9 8
3 ,8 5 7
7 ,2 0 6
7 ,0 0 9
9 ,5 0 3
5 ,9 5 4
7 ,8 4 5
9 ,0 4 8
1 7 ,2 0 0
2 2 ,8 6 1
2 9 ,0 6 6
1 8 .5 2 8
2 1 .5 2 9
2 2 ,5 0 8
3 6 ,4 6 0
2 8 ,2 6 7
3 2 ,1 5 7
5 8 ,4 4 8
5 3 ,8 8 4
6 8 ,4 2 8

4 7 9 ,8 9 4

8 2 ,3 2 2

5 8 5 ,6 5 6

5 ,7 6 0
7 ,7 4 8


C in ­
cin ­
n a ti

C le v e ­
la n d

$ 6 ,5 4 8
9 ,7 9 4
1 9 ,1 9 8
2 3 ,3 5 4
2 1 ,0 0 6
2 8 ,5 1 6
2 2 ,1 9 2
19, 740
26, 679
3 0 ,6 2 3
2 9 ,2 6 9
3 2 ,7 8 7

$ 1 ,1 7 5
1 ,6 5 9
2 ,0 3 6
2 ,2 7 1
2 ,2 2 9
21, 678
1 ,8 4 3
7 ,9 1 0 2 ,4 8 2
2 ,4 6 1
2 ,1 9 4
2 ,4 7 5
3 ,3 1 7
2, 825
4 ,2 0 6

2 7 7 ,2 2 9

2 3 ,6 5 0

D e tr o it

1 ,1 5 1
2, 751

D u lu th

L os
A n g e le s
P u b lic
D e­
fe n d e r

M il­
w aukee

M in n e ­
a p o lis


$ 2 ,7 0 5
6 ,1 3 6
1 1 ,6 4 7
1 8 ,4 5 5
1 9 ,2 3 4
9 ,4 0 4
3 0 ,4 4 2

1 ,7 7 6
2 ,5 8 7
5 ,7 5 7
2 ,1 0 4
1 0 .3 0 0
1 2 ,8 4 8
1 1 .3 0 0
12, 500

$ 5 ,2 3 0
8 ,0 8 6
8 ,9 2 7
1 6 ,4 0 8
2 1 ,9 6 4
2 5 ,3 6 3
3 5 ,4 9 0
2 9 ,5 6 9
3 7 ,1 2 9
2 7 ,1 5 9
3 2 ,5 8 5

9 8 ,0 2 3

6 5 ,7 0 6

2 4 7 ,9 1 0


K ansas
C ity

$ ,0 4 6
8 ,9 0 4
1 0 ,9 6 2
1 0 ,1 4 0
7 ,7 0 5
6 ,9 1 4
5 ,1 4 3
3 ,9 0 1
1 0 ,5 4 2
10, 520
1 4 ,8 9 6
1 0 ,9 6 5
5 ,3 4 5
1 12 , 2 83

19, 635
15, 844
22, 939
3 0 , 583
3 8 ,3 0 8

5, 569
4 , 504
9 ,1 5 7
11, 6 38
1 4 ,2 5 3

$ 3 ,5 3 0
5 ,7 0 7
5 ,4 5 0
7 ,4 0 1
5 ,1 8 4
5 ,0 1 8
4 , 513
3, 531
2 ,4 9 9
2 ,2 6 4
4 , 726

1 9 8 ,4 4 3

4 9 ,4 4 5

4 9 ,8 2 3

$26, 273
2 3 ,1 8 3

1 ,8 9 2


N ew Y ork
L ega l A id
S o cie ty

N ew
Y ork
E d u ca­
t io n a l
A llia n c e

$ 1 ,1 2 1 ,3 0 0
6 1 ,1 4 0
72, 633
9 0 ,2 8 6
8 6 ,0 6 3
1 0 0 ,0 7 4
1 01, 724
122, 8 38
1 4 2 ,4 2 9
1 3 8 ,0 4 6
1 3 4 ,8 9 5
1 3 9 ,3 2 7
1 2 8 ,0 0 5
1 3 5 ,2 2 1
1 1 2 ,2 3 8
1 3 0 ,8 5 9
1 4 7 ,3 7 1
1 4 5 ,8 9 3
1 7 1 ,6 5 6
1 4 2 ,7 1 5

1 3 ,3 4 8
1 0 ,8 2 2
1 2 ,1 6 4
7 ,1 2 5
1 4 ,4 1 3
14, 566
16, 537
1 5 ,5 4 6
12, 598
1 4 ,1 0 0
1 6 ,2 2 4
1 7 ,5 1 2
2 2 ,1 9 9
2 1 ,8 9 7

3 ,4 2 4 ,7 1 3

2 1 3 ,7 7 0

N ew
Y ork
N a tio n a l
D eser­
tio n
B u reau

$ 1 ,0 7 0
1 ,6 4 9



8 57
6 ,1 9 1
6 ,3 3 0
10, 894
1 2, 511

2 8 ,8 0 0
3 4 ,7 0 0
4 6 ,8 0 0

1 4 8 ,0 8 3

P h ila ­
d e lp h ia

S t.
L o u is

1 ,1 3 4
1 ,3 2 3
2 ,0 7 6
3 , 2 57
5 ,0 4 6
3 ,9 8 7
6 ,6 7 6
7 ,0 7 3
1 1 ,2 8 6

$ 1 ,8 5 2
8 ,4 5 7
4 ,8 9 3
7 ,3 9 0
5 ,1 0 9

1 9 ,0 7 4
2 1 ,3 4 1
1 8 ,1 7 3

8 ,5 0 0
6 ,2 9 7
6 ,0 4 3
6 ,1 7 0

1 0 3 ,5 4 3

6 2 ,6 2 1


T ota l

B u ffa lo

C h ic a g o
J e w is h
L egal
A id
B u reau


P r i o r t o 1 9 0 5 ......................
1 9 0 5 ...........................................
1 9 0 6 ................
1 9 0 7 ...................
1 9 0 8 ...................
1 9 0 9 ...........................................
1 9 1 0 ...........................................
1 9 1 1 ...........................................
1 9 1 2 ...........................................
1 9 1 3 _____
1 9 1 4 _____
1 9 1 5 ...........................................
1 9 1 6 ...........................................
1 9 1 7 ................
1919 ___
1 9 2 0 .................................
1 9 2 1 ......................................
1 9 2 2 ...........................................
1 92 3

B o s to n

C h ie a g o
L egal
A id
B u reau



B o s to n

B u ffa lo

C h ic a g o
L egal
A id
B u reau




3 1 ,7 6 3

13, 506
6 1 ,0 5 2

4 3 8 ,4 0 8

1 2 ,1 7 5
14, 518
19, 859
1 9 ,0 7 5
22, 300
23, 800
25, 2 97

2 ,9 0 3
3 ,9 6 0
3 ,0 6 1
3 ,1 0 2
5, 381
6 ,1 6 9
6 ,7 4 0
7 ,0 5 3
3, 765
7 ,3 8 8
, 870
6 ,9 5 9
7 ,4 5 7
7, 3 47
7, 6 96
6 ,8 9 5
6 ,6 6 1
7 .6 5 6
7 .6 5 6

$5, 000
7, 516
8 ,9 7 3
9, 381
1 0 ,4 4 6
11, 699
11, 8 48
10, 779
16, 746
1 7 ,9 8 0
1 6 ,1 4 9
1 6 ,4 7 5
16, 718

$ 1 3 ,4 7 4
1 7 ,3 0 4
1 8 ,0 0 0
1 8 ,0 0 0
1 8 ,0 0 0
1 8 ,0 0 0

2 7 ,0 0 0
2 7 ,9 3 5
2 8, 555

3 6 ,2 4 9

4 6 ,1 5 7

1 ,0 6 4 ,9 8 2

114, 7 52

159, 7 10

120, 778

1 1 6 ,1 5 0

1, 238
1, 209
1, 359
1 ,8 0 0
, 800
2, 300
2, 300
2, 400
, 500
2, 500

$1, 3 38
5, 394
5, 107
5, 283
5, 609
5 ,1 4 4
4, 2 26
4, 2 25
5, 878
6 ,1 8 0
7 ,1 6 9
,4 0 0

2 1 ,1 1 8

1 0 5 ,8 5 4

4 0 ,2 1 8

7 5 ,8 4 5

$49 2

12 0






$4, 641
18, 831
21, 613
2 1 ,1 9 9
2 1 ,1 3 3
21, 846
18, 4 96
2 0 ,9 8 2
24, 8 06
24, 749

1 9 8 ,2 9 6




P h ila ­
d e lp h ia

$2, 4 57
1, 6 54
2, 3 62
1 ,9 0 4
2 ,1 3 7
1, 6 85
1, 713
1 ,8 4 6
2, 2 95
2 ,5 1 0
3, 3 44
4 ,3 1 6
4 ,4 3 7


P it t s ­
b u rg h

$ 65 8
1 ,0 4 6
9 33
1 ,1 7 6
1 ,0 2 4
1 ,2 9 5
1 ,6 1 5
, 882
1, 791
1 ,7 9 9

R och ­

$ 25 1


S t.
L o u is

$ 2 ,8 0 3
2, 381
5, 857

2 ,1 1 6
2, 738
1 ,9 1 3
1, 685

1, 313
1 ,4 0 0
2, 5 6 0
3, 2 00
3, 6 0 0
4 .1 0 0
4 .1 0 0
4 ,3 5 0

2 1 ,6 7 1

2 7 ,9 9 4

4 9 ,9 6 6


6 611

7 ,4 7 9
8 ,1 6 7
, 168\
8 ,5 0 0 '



3 ,0 1 7
4, 323
5 ,0 4 8
5 ,4 4 7
5, 594
5 ,8 7 0
6 ,0 4 3

$ 1 ,3 2 4
,9 4 0
2, 231
3 ,4 3 5
3 ,9 7 1
3, 6 57
4 ,4 8 9
5 ,7 0 2
6 ,1 4 0
6 ,4 0 2

$19 1, 564
28, 553
3 2 ,1 1 6
38, 6 82
4 1 ,4 8 5
4 1 ,6 4 1
3 9 ,4 0 9
4 3 ,1 1 4
4 6 ,1 9 4
4 5, 2 00
4 4 ,1 4 0
4 5, 609
4 4, 6 48
4 5 ,0 0 0
4 3 ,9 8 9
4 7 ,0 5 1
57, 2 77
61, 739
6 3 ,9 6 8
63, 6 03

$ 500
6 96
, 266
8 ,1 8 0
9, 301
1 0 ,9 5 3


1 8 3 ,0 6 7

D e­
tro it

N ew
Y ork
V o lu n ­
ta ry
D e­
fe n d e rs
C om ­
m itte e

N ew
Y ork
L egal
A id
S o c ie ty

$ 1 ,0 6 4
1, 523
1, 409
1, 864
2, 362
2, 362
2, 298
2, 603
1, 841
3 ,2 4 8
3, 210
4 ,0 1 3
5, 700
13, 360
17, 714
17, 582
1 9 ,0 3 5

6 66
7, 679
1 ,0 0

25, 6 70

1 8 4 ,6 3 7

$ 1 3 ,1 7 8
3 ,9 0 0
4, 600

C le v e ­
la n d

N ew
N ew
Y ork
Y ork
N a tio n a l
E d u ca ­
D eser­
t io n a l
tio n
A llia n c e
B u reau

L os
A n g e le s
M il­
M in n e ­
K ansas
P u b lic
C ity
w a u k e e a p o lis
D e­
fe n d e r


$ 5 , 749
Prior to 1905.
$126, 8 97
4, 224
1, 500
1, 788
7 ,4 5 7
2, 704
.................. .................. 8 0 80
2 ,4 6 9
8 253
2, 560
.................. .................. 8 361
2, 8 99
8 ,9 9 1
3 ,7 4 1
.................. ..................12, 851
4 , 567
$ 1 , 7 42
1 9 ,1 8 0
24, 826
5 ,0 3 0
2 ,0 1 5
5 ,3 3 1
2 ,1 5 8
26, 853
5, 3 9 6
2 336 17, 593
2, 3 72
18, 318
6 ,4 9 8
8, 6 25 2 ,7 0 2 19, 330
1918....... .
11, 2 48
2, 585
2 5 ,4 9 3
1 4 ,1 3 9
1 4 ,1 5 3
6 ,2 5 0
1 8 ,5 4 8
4 ,1 5 0
18, 855
20, 246
9 ,0 2 0
21, 718
12 216 21, 3 05
2 9 ,8 3 6

C h ica g o
J e w is h
C in ­
L egal
cin n a ti
A id
B ureau











[F ig u r e s in t h is t a b le in c lu d e o r g a n iz a t io n s o t h e r t h a n t h o s e s h o w n in t h e d e t a ile d t a b le s p r e c e d in g ]

Y ear

P r i o r t o 1905.
1 9 0 5 _ .................
............................ ............................
............................ ............................
1 9 1 0 - ................
1911 .................. .
1 9 1 3 - .................
1 9 1 4 ................ ..
1915............................ ............................
1916............................ ............................ ............................
............................ ............................
1918 ...................
1 9 1 9 - ................
1 9 2 0 ....................
1 9 2 1 . ................
1 9 2 2 .................. .
1 9 2 3 - ................
T o t a l , U n i t e d S t a t e s ............

N u m b er of
cases r e c e iv e d 1

A m o u n t s c o l­
le c t e d fo r
c lie n t s 1

O p e r a tin g ex ­
pen ses 1

3 0 2 ,6 3 3
3 3 ,3 5 2
3 7 ,6 0 3
4 2 ,5 9 6
5 0 ,9 4 3
48, 212
5 0 ,2 5 8
5 7 ,8 6 0
77, 700
8 5 ,7 8 3
1 0 9 ,2 8 9
113, 539
116, 325
108, 594
9 9 ,1 9 2
102, 289
96, 034
111, 404
130, 585
150, 234

$1, 2 7 3 ,1 7 8
8 0 ,0 2 0
9 9 ,0 4 9
126, 515
129, 562
1 3 6 ,1 0 5
1 6 0 ,1 9 5
1 8 2 ,4 9 9
2 1 5 ,1 4 3
2 4 3 ,3 8 4
2 7 2 ,8 3 3
3 2 3 ,3 0 9
345, 435
2 6 6 ,3 7 3
2 8 9 ,8 5 9
3 6 7 ,8 1 3
3 8 9 ,8 3 5
4 5 6 ,1 6 0
499, 684
4 98, 846

$ 3 3 9 ,8 7 8
42, 734
5 3 ,3 4 7
62, 620
, 534
7 2 ,1 7 0
75, 264
9 3 ,1 9 4
1 1 9 ,9 9 2
133, 433
1 5 9 ,8 6 3
1 6 6 ,6 4 0
1 8 1 ,1 6 5
153, 559
167, 307
195, 595
2 2 6 ,0 7 9
2 8 2 ,3 5 9
3 2 8 ,6 5 1
3 3 1 ,3 2 6

1 ,9 2 4 ,4 2 5

6 5 5 , 797

3 ,2 5 6 , 518


1 ,3 4 7


1 92 2.
1 92 3 .

1 Figures axe fo r those organizations which reported.


The Kansas City Municipal Legal Aid Bureau was created by the board of
public welfare, acting under its general powers and without any express ordi­
nance. Most of the public bureaus, however, have been created by special
ordinances. The following comparisons are taken from the Dayton ordinance
of November 17, 1915; the Hartford ordinance of January 1, 1917; the Omaha
ordinance of December 7, 1915; the St. Louis ordinance of July 14, 1915; and
the Philadelphia ordinance of 1920.
These ordinances may be used as helpful precedents by municipalities that
are considering the creation of a public legal aid bureau.
For persons interested in the establishment of a private legal aid society the
constitution and by-laws of the New York Legal Aid Society (Appendix E )
may serve as a model.
D a yto n . — Render legal aid and assistance to indigent persons worthy thereof
who are unable to secure same elsewhere and' promote measures for their
protection in such cases and under such conditions as in the judgment of the
director of public welfare may justify such assistance.
Philadelphia .— Provide legal aid and assistance for those who are in need
thereof and who, for financial reasons, are unable to retain private counsel.
H a r tfo rd .— To furnish legal aid and advice to any person financially unable
to employ counsel, who has a proper case, and who is a resident of the city or
who has a claim accrued or cause of action against any corporation or citizen
while claimant was resident in said city.
Omaha .— To furnish aid to worthy indigent persons in the city to secure
their legal rights in court.
St. L ou is. — To provide legal aid to all worthy people of St. Louis who, be­
cause of their financial inability to pay therefor, are unable to procure neces­
sary legal advice or services.

D a y to n .— Shall keep receipt of all sums collected; deposit in bank designated

by director of public w elfare; keep on file all records of financial transactions;
make report on 10th day of each month to the director of public welfare, and
also file financial report with director of finance.
P hiladelphia .— Chief of bureau shall have general oversight and direction of
legal aid work of city, subject to approval of director of public welfare.
St. L ou is. — Attorney to be in charge of and supervise the offices and legal
work of the bureau; shall have correct book showing business done and money
received; shall make reports as required by director of public welfare.
D a yton . — Must give bond furnished by surety company approved by director

of public welfare.
St. L ou is. — Attorney shall be licensed and engaged in practice of law for
five years prior to appointment. Required to give bond for $5,000.
D a yton . — Attorney to be appointed.

To be paid salary and have such as­
sistance, office equipment, stationery, and allowance for all expenses as shall
be provided by the commission of the city of Dayton.
Philadelphia. — Chief of bureau appointed by director of public welfare.
Counsel assigned by city solicitor. Other employees appointed by director of
public welfare subject to existing laws.
Omaha.— Second assistant city attorney is designated as the law officer to
have charge of said work under the direction of said board.
St. L ou is. — Attorney, assistant attorney, investigator, clerk, and stenographer
appointed by director of public welfare.
56861°-~26------ 9






r t ic l e

I.— N a m e and purpose

The name of the society shall be “ The Legal Aid Society
The purpose of this society shall be to render legal aid gratuitously, if
necessary, to all who may appear worthy thereof, and who are unable to
procure assistance elsewhere, and to promote measures for their protection.

r t ic l e

II.— M em bership

The society shall be composed of the following classes of members:
Life members, who pay $1,000 or more in any one y e a r;
Patrons, who pay $100 a year;
Special members, who pay $75 or $50 a y e a r ;
Sustaining and retaining members, being business houses and law offices,
respectively, which pay $50 a year, or $25 a year if within the description
of the junior grade, as hereinafter defined;
Regular members, who pay $20 a y e a r ;
Associate members, who pay $10 a y e a r; and
Associate members, junior grade, who pay $5 a year.
Sustaining or retaining memberships may be held by business houses or law
offices, respectively, which shall pay $50 a year: P ro vid ed , h o w ever , That busi­
ness houses which have not been established for more than 10 years and law
offices in which no partner is of more than 15 years’ standing at the bar may
hold such memberships, as of the junior grade, by paying $25 a year.
Application for membership shall be reported to the board of directors for
action ; and the board shall have power, by special order, to admit to mem­
bership as of a junior grade any applicant otherwise eligible only to member­
ship as of a senior grade and to admit a firm, office, or business house to a
class of membership otherwise open only to individuals.
Retaining or sustaining members, special members, patrons, and life mem­
bers shall each be entitled to require that the society shall render legal aid
to some designated person whenever requested by such member, or shall make
a written report to such member explaining its declination to comply with
his request.
A r t i c l e I II.— E lection and officers
The management of this society shall be vested in a board of 24 directors.
This board shall be divided into three classes of eight members each.
Eight directors shall be elected at each annual meeting to serve for a term of
three years.
Should a director absent himself from three consecutive meetings without a
satisfactory excuse he may be considered to have resigned, and the vacancy
shall be filled by the board.
The officers shall consist of a president, a vice president, a secretary, and
a treasurer, all of whom shall be directors; and in addition such honorary
vice presidents as the board may elect.
The officers shall be elected by ballot at the first meeting of the board after
the annual meeting of the society.
The board shall have power to fill vacancies occurring in its own number.
The directors may employ the services of an attorney and such other as­
sistants as may be necessary to conduct the work of the society.

r t ic l e

IV . — M eetin gs

The annual meeting of this society shall be held in the month of February,
for the election of directors, for the reception of reports, and the transaction
of such other business as may be brought before the meeting.




Special meetings o f the society may be called at any time by the board of
directors, or shall be called by the secretary upon the written request of 10
members, setting forth the object of such special meeting.
A t least one week’s notice shall be given to the members of any annual or
special meeting, and 10 members shall constitute a quorum thereat.

r t ic l e

Y .— A m en d m en ts

This constitution may be amended as follow s:
(1 ) By resolution of a two-thirds vote at a meeting of the directors, at
which at least 10 members shall be present, notice of such amendment having
been given at a previous stated meeting of the board, and a copy thereof sent
to each member of the board at least five days previous to the meeting at
which it is to be considered, or (2 ) on recommendation of the directors by an
affirmative vote of two-thirds of all members present at a meeting of the
society, provided the proposed amendment has been stated in the notice of the
B Y -L A W S
A r t i c l e I .— M eetin gs

Begular meetings of the board of directors shall be held each month except
June, July, and August.
Special meetings may be called by the president, the vice president, or upon
the written request of four directors. No special meeting shall be called with­
out two days’ notice, and the purpose of the meeting shall be stated in the call,
and no other business shall be transacted.
Five directors shall constitute a quorum.
A r t i c l e I I .— D u ties and p ow ers o f th e officers

The president, or, in his absence, the vice president, shall preside at all
meetings of the society and of the board of directors. He shall also present a
report of the work of the society for the preceding year at its annual meeting.
The president shall appoint all standing committees and shall be ex officio
member of all committees.
The secretary shall give notice of all meetings and keep a proper record of
the proceedings of the society, the minutes of its meetings and of those of
the directors, a complete register of its members, and shall keep on file the
original reports of the treasurer and attorney to the board of directors, and
shall be the custodian of its general papers and records. He shall also have
the custody of the seal of the society and affix the same when necessary upon
the resolution of the board.
The treasurer shall receive and disburse all moneys of the society and keep
same in a depository approved by the board, but he shall not incur any debt
or make any expenditure out of the general funds in excess of the amount
allowed by the budget for the several purposes therein specified, unless by
order of the board. He shall keep separate accounts of any moneys received
by him for special purposes and shall expend such moneys under the direction
o f the board. He shall present to the board a monthly report of the receipts
and expenditures of the society and also an annual report at its annual meeting.
The attorney, under rules approved by the board of directors, shall have
charge and supervision of the offices and of the legal work of the society and
shall have correct books kept at all said offices showing all business done and
moneys received and paid out, and shall report to the treasurer at least once a
A r t i c l e I I I .— Standing co m m ittees
There shall be an executive committee, composed of five directors, which
shall have all the powers of the board between the meetings in May and Sep­
There shall be a committee on finance, of which the treasurer shall be a mem­
ber, and which shall be charged with the duty of raising the funds of the
society. This committee shall exercise a general supervision over the finances
of the society and prepare an annual report of the receipts and expenditures of
the preceding year, together with a budget of the estimated expenses and the



estimated receipts of the ensuing year. After the budget for the year has been
adopted by the board, should a deficit appear in one account and a surplus in
another, the committee shall have the power to transfer from one account to
another, but shall in no way increase the total amount of the budget. The
committee shall also have a public accountant audit the books of the treasurer
and the attorneys.
There shall be a committee on membership, which shall be charged with the
duty of increasing the membership of the society.
There shall be a visiting committee for each office of the society. It shall be
the duty of such committee to visit the office to which they have been assigned
at least once a month for conference with the attorney in charge for the pur­
pose of observing and advising as to the work and report to the board.
There shall be a committee on publication, which shall have charge of all
publications of the society, and shall make public through the press, or other-'
wise, such matters as may promote the objects of the society.
There shall be a law committee, which shall aid and direct the attorneys in
legal questions when requested, and its members shall be ready at all times to
give their legal advice and their services gratuitously, and shall act as counsel
whenever necessary.
Before each annual meeting the board shall appoint a committee of mem­
bers to nominate candidates for election to the board, the report of which com­
mittee shall accompany the call for the annual meeting of the society.


r t ic l e


of business for general and special meetings of the society:
Declaration by secretary that a quorum is present.
Reading of the minutes of the previous meeting.
Reading of reports.
Communications from special committees.
Unfinished business.
New and miscellaneous business.
of business for the directors:
Roll call.
Reading of the minutes.
Communication from the chair.
Reports of standing committees.
Election of new members.
Reports by special committees.
Old business.
New and miscellaneous business.

Article V.— Amendments
These by-laws may be amended by a vote of three-fourths of the members
present at any meeting of the society, or by a majority of the board of direc­
tors at any of their meetings.

This appendix is a statement of certain practical suggestions concerning
the formation o f legal aid organizations. There are several reasons for it.
New legal aid societies and bureaus are constantly being established. Many
persons are meeting in actual practice problems of administrative detail.
There is need for a collection of data which indicates how other similar groups
of people have solved their problems in the same field.
The National Association of Legal Aid Organizations has been gathering
information as to methods of operation in the local societies, and these sug­
gestions represent in large measure the combined judgment and experience
of the legal aid world.
One caution should be expressed. It is not possible to consider all local
conditions which may affect legal aid work. Such rules as are set down may
as the result of actual experience be modified in a particular city. But as
they have all originated in practical experience they should not be lightly
disregarded. The endeavor is to set up minimum standards for legal aid
work. I f the work in any community falls below these minimum standards
it may bring discredit to the work everywhere.

A thorough understanding of legal aid work.— The first step in the establish­
ment of a successful organization is a thorough understanding of the nature
of legal aid work and its ultimate purpose. I f such an understanding is
acquired it will be possible to fit the machinery of the legal aid §society into
the other machinery for legal and social work in the community.
tends to make the work broad enough to cover its entire field and yet not to
Overlap the work of other organizations.
Such forethought w ill eliminate
friction and waste of effort.
The present bulletin is an effort to set forth the nature and ultimate
purpose of legal aid work. For detailed information not covered by this ap­
pendix, inquiries may be made to the secretary National Association of Legal
Aid Organizations, 133 South Twelfth Street, Philadelphia, Pa.
A gathering of interested persons.— One person alone can do legal aid work.
It is customary, however, to gather a group of interested persons to act as
a supervisory committee. Such a group tends to secure for the work broader
contacts with the community at large. Experience has shown the value of
such contacts. The composition of such a group will be largely dictated by
local conditions. It is customary to have as members lawyers, social workers,
and others of the public-spirited people in the vicinity.
A survey as to the need for this kind of service.— Such a group should ask
itself the question as to whether there is any real need for legal aid work in
its neighborhood. I f there is no need the legal aid organization is super­
fluous. But such a conclusion should not be reached until all the facts are
available. The facts throughout the United States indicate that there is
about one legal aid client to every 100 of population each year. The com­
munity which does not have such a record is the exception and not the rule.




The only final test as to the need is to start legal aid work in a modest way,
see that every one who may need it is notified that it is being carried on,
keep accurate records of the cases actually handled, and at the expiration
of two or three years give the subject thorough consideration. One year is
not enough to test the work. The practice of a young lawyer does not grow
to reasonable size in one year. Legal aid work in all the older organizations
has grown slowly. As soon as the community at large learns that the results
obtained by the organization are satisfactory the volume of business will
indicate the need.
Certain fundam entals in organization .— The work must be made a definite
entity in the community if it is to be recognized. There are four practical
matters in the way of making it definite— a place where the work may be
conducted, a time when the office may be open to receive applicants, a definite
individual or group to do the actual work, and a definite supervisory body.
Definite place and time serve the convenience of both workers and appli­
cants. Legal aid organizations have failed because the work was done in a
number of scattered law offices and at any time which the workers found
available after their regular work. I f legal aid work is worth doing it is
worth doing well. A businesslike attention to these matters will be worth
much in good will. Good will bears the same relation to legal aid work that
it does to any business.
The foundation‘ of a lawyer’s practice is the personal relation between him
and his clients. To insure the confidence of the personal relation, corpora­
tions for the practice of the law are prohibited in many States. I f the at­
torney who is to do legal aid work is not carefully selected or if an effort is
made to force the applicant to accept any attorney who volunteers, regardless
of his ability, the reputation of the societies will suffer. I f the applicant sees
a new group of workers every time he calls at the office he will begin to ques­
tion their ability to handle his case. The selection of definite workers is
essential because it goes to expedite efficiency and the good will of the business.
The supervisory committee guards those phases of the work which the
immediate workers can not handle. Whether it takes the form of a board of
directors or continues as a more or less organized committee its function will
be the same.
F o r m o f organization .— The next problem is as to the form of organization.
Local conditions will determine this because different forms are adapted to
different communities. The need for organization arises from the fact that an
unorganized group will sooner or later disintegrate. The work should not
be left dependent upon the whim of members of a disorganized group. Again
we sound the note of business expediency, efficiency, and service to the com­
munity. An organized body may appoint a treasurer, who is in a position
to ask for funds for operating expenses.
In communities with a population of less than 50,000 the Illinois plan is
the best devised thus far. This plan has been fully described in Chapter X V .
In communities with a population of between 50,000 and 100,000 some form
of the Lexington plan appears adequate. This plan is similar to that in use
where the legal aid bureau is part of a social agency. The social agency
supplies the office and the funds for operation. A part-time lawyer and clerk
are retained and the work proceeds under the supervision of the social agency.
In a community with a population in excess of 100,000 one of the three
standard types may be used. These are the private corporation, the municipal
bureau, and the department of a social agency. The relative merits of these
plans have been discussed in Chapter X V .



The population figures indicated above are somewhat arbitrary. In actual
practice the form of organization must be determined by the number of cases
to be handled. I f the bar association committee under the Illinois plan shows
signs of breaking down because of the press of work, a part-time lawyer should
be employed. I f the part-time lawyer can not handle the volume of business,
he should be placed on a Dill-time basis and given the necessary assistants.
The supervisory committee in considering the adoption of one of these three
standard forms will be governed by the amount of control it desires to
exercise in the matter of forming policies for the work, the question as to
where operation expenses are to come from, and the practical question of how
to get the work started. In general it is considered wise not to establish the
municipal bureau until a public sentiment has been developed which can
adequately cope with the tendency to political control and spiritless routine.
Those are the objections usually made to this particular form.
Appendix E contains a copy of the constitution and by-laws of the New
York Legal Aid Society, which will serve as a model for groups desiring a
private corporation.
Appendix D contains a digest of ordinances under which municipal bureaus
have been established. This will serve as a model for municipal activity.
When the form of organization has been established there follows the even
more serious matter of arranging a machinery to care adequately for the
.handling of the various cases and applicants who come for aid.
P erson n el .— The most important matter is the selection of the workers with
whom the applicants will come in contact. If the workers are the best obtain­
able, the work will be satisfactory. If the workers are not the best, organiza­
tions should be delayed until the best are secured. Ethical standards on the
part of the workers are probably the most important of the qualifications.
Courtesy to the applicants for aid is invaluable. Ability to handle the routine
work will come from experience, and doubtful cases can be referred to older
lawyers or to the supervisory committee. A satisfied client is the most precious
asset we can secure. The personal contact between the worker and the client
usually determines this point.
Legal aid organizations employ three distinct types of workers— lawyers,
clerks, and investigators. There are a few interpreters and miscellaneous
workers in some of the more highly developed offices. Lawyers and clerks are
well recognized as to the work they are required to do. Transport them to a
private law office and their work would be the same. The investigator has
grown up with legal aid work. His function is somewhat like that of a proba­
tion officer. He is the lengthened arm of the lawyer. He works outside of the
office gathering evidence for presentation in court, determining the truth or
falsity of the facts submitted by the applicants, settling cases by conciliation,
interviewing recalcitrant opposing parties. The service thus rendered can be
performed by the lawyer only at a serious sacrifice of time away from the
office. It is not difficult to obtain an energetic young lawyer to take hold of
the work in exchange for the experience he obtains. Such a man, with help
from a group of older lawyers, can care for any case that may arise.
Clerks and stenographers will adapt themselves to the office routine without
much trouble. Investigators, however, must be trained in the work. Experi­
ence with a social case working agency is only part of the problem. There
must be an understanding of some of the rudiments of law, because legal aid is
the primary function of a legal aid society.



The number of workers necessary to handle the work in a particular office
depends upon many factors. Personal ability, the number of cases, the nature
of cases, all have a bearing.
R eco rd s and office fo r m s .— The general purpose of legal aid work is to coop­
erate with the administration of justice and similarly interested agencies in
securing justice to the poor. That being our task, we want to do it as well as
possible. It can not be done well unless a legal aid organization understands
what it is doing itself and what other legal aid organizations are doing; nor
can the fruits of the work be fully garnered unless our experience is available
as a part of the general fund of social experience. Therefore we keep records.
The National Association of Legal Aid Organizations has furnished us
with a standard classification of the information which we are to keep. This
information deals with cases and with clients. Records as to cases include data
as to the source, nature, and disposition. Records as to clients cover civic
status, economic status, and social status.
Having considered why records should be kept, and what records ought to
be kept, the next point is how they should be kept. Here again the National
Association of Legal Aid Organizations has given us a standard set of forms.
Forms are of three sorts: (a ) Forms to record the facts of each case; (b)
forms to give reasonable access to the facts of each case while the case is in
progress; and (c) forms to give reasonable access to the facts in each case
when it is closed and the data are filed away.
(a )
The standard form to record the facts of the case is a docket card of
the following design. It should be remembered that all facts about the case
and applicant appear on it, and also a complete history of the case as it
progresses. Besides the value of having the facts in concise form the ac­
curacy of this docket card will answer many a troublesome question raised by
someone who desires to criticize the w ork :
NaTrift o f a p p lic a n t
R ftsid ftn eft..................




_ .

Folder for


Bank account. ............................... Salary.........
Real estate clear value.................... Rent paid.
Personal property.................
Income from other sources..
Employed............................. .
Referred b y ._ ...................... .
Nature of case...................... .

Case No.


. Number of dependents.
. Alien...............................
| First papers___________

Name of adverse party___« . . .


(Figures refer to code)
Check appropriate figures when case is
I-A l
B 1


B 1

. Second papers......... ......


V I -1

IV —1





I X —1
X —1


The forms to give reasonable access to the case when it is in progress
a re : (1 ) A follow-up system and (2) a system of easy access to the docket
card, so that it may be secured from the files upon short notice.



Follow-up systems need no explanation here. The details may be secured
in many books and from the nearest office of a concern which specializes in
filing systems.
For access to the docket card the following suggestions are m ade:
File the docket card numerically. On 3 by 5 cards prepare an alphabetical
cross index of the names of applicants and opposing parties. The cards in
the alphabetical cross index bear the numbers of the case. The card bear­
ing the name of the applicant is filed alphabetically under his name. The
card bearing the name of the opposing party is filed alphabetically under
his name.
(c )
The form to secure reasonable access to the facts of each case after
it is closed is a digest sheet in the following form. Before a case is closed
the data on the docket card should be checked on the digest sheet:





Wages over $30 a week
1. Real estate


4 dependents
Over 4 dependents


Rent over $40 amonth
No dependents

3 dependents


|Rent $30-$40 a month

rent paid

1 dependent
2 dependents


Rent $20-$30 a month

Present wage or average earning
Rent under $20 a month

3. Value of income from
other sources


[ Wages $25-$30 a week

Value of personal prop­


Wages $20-$25 a week



Wages $10-$20 a week


| Wages under $10 a week



Being naturalized



By naturalization

By birth

| United States

| Sweden

| Russia

| Poland

| Italy

[ Germany


| France

| China



British Empire

Case number

| Canada



Number of



1. Social agency

1. Lapsed

2. Private attorney

j 2. Case withdrawn


6. Advice given and case re­
ferred to

a Advice given

2. Out of jurisdiction

1. Able to employ counsel

b Rule as to client


1. Divorce case
2. Criminal case

Case som b er

2. Private attorney

1. Social agency

6. Case technically won but
no practical benefit

4. Lost

3. Won

2. Discontinued litigation

IX . Adjusted

1. Settled after litigation

3. Adjusted through concilia­

2. Satisfactorily settled

gated VIII.
1. Partial settlement secured

Information secured


II. Advice and
referred cases
IV. Case
to ad­ terminated and gated and
by client
referred to


a. Rule as to case
I. Refused at first interview



X . Disposed of after



Financial and accounting m a tters .— This situation may be considered under
the questions: (a ) How much does it cost to operate a legal aid organization?
(&) W here does the money come from? (c) W h at is an adequate accounting
The question as to cost is best answered by the table following, which shows
the cost of operation in the year 1923:

C ity

A lbany___________________________________________________________
Boston.......................................... ..................................... _%
Buffalo............................................... ........................... ...............................
Bridgeport________ _______________________________________________
Chicago, Legal Aid Bureau________________________________________
Cincinnati__________________________________________ ____ ________
Grand Rapids_____________________________________________________
Hartford, Legal Aid Bureau_______________________________________
Hartford, Public Defender_________________________________________
Indianapolis________________________________________________ _____
Kansas City_________________ ____ ________________________________
Los Angeles, city police court defender_____________________________
Minneapolis__________________________________________________ ___
New York, Legal Aid Society_____________________________________
New York, Educational Alliance____ ____ ________________ ____ _
New York, National Desertion Bureau____________________________
New York, Voluntary Defenders Committee____________________
Philadelphia....... .........................................................................................
St. Louis__________________________________________________________
San Francisco_ - _________________________________________________
W orcester______ _ _______________________________________________
Total_____ „______ ________________________ - ________ _______

of legal
aid cases

Gross cost
of opera­

gross cost
per case

16, 227
2, 380
1, 559
29, 270
12, 500

13, 506
2, 500
6, 043
6, 402
7, 656
16, 718
28, 555
1, 685
4, 350

3. 20
2. 26
4. 34
2. 56
2. 28
4. 81
9. 08
5. 73
7. 73




It should be kept in mind that a new organization will show a cost per
case larger than one firmly established where there are many cases. A cer­
tain amount of expense is necessary whether there are 50 or 500 cases. This
minimum expense covers salaries and office expenses. The same expense will
suffice for a much larger number of cases and so reduce the cost per case.
Where money for operation expenses comes from is indicated by the follow ing:
Eleven organizations receive funds from the city treasury, 10 from sub­
scription of members, 11 from members of the bar, 17 from social agencies,
6 from community welfare funds, and 3 from miscellaneous sources. O f these
miscellaneous sources, 1 is a trust fund, 1 a contribution from a law school,
and 1 income on invested securities.
In the last analysis, whether a legal aid organization receives money or
not depends upon the initiative of the personnel of the supervisory body and
upon that almost entirely. No effort should be spared to make the income
adequate, nor should the active workers be required to raise the funds.
Accounting is essential both as to operation expenses and clients’ funds.
Legal aid organizations are trustees of this money, and as such are subject
to court action in case of improper application. In a larger sense, however,
it is an evidence of businesslike operation to keep accurate account of all
receipts and expenditures.
The National Association of Legal Aid Organizations has approved the
following recommendations o f a general nature;



1. That all legal aid organizations should once a year publish (or file with a
public officer) a detailed financial report.
2. That all officers and employees who handle funds should be bonded.
3. That accounts should be audited from year to year by certified public
accountants (or public officials).
4. That all money belonging to clients should be regarded as trust funds and
should be handled through separate banking accounts or through such con­
trolling accounts as will make it certain that these trust funds are never used
for general expenses.
5. That in every cash transaction with every client, he should sign a receipt
for cash given him and be given a receipt for cash received from him.
Accounts for operation funds and clients’ funds should be kept separate.
Separate bank accounts and separate sets of books are urged. The four books
suggested are cash book, ledger, check book, and receipt book.
No extended discussion of accounting is in order here. The form of ledger,
check book, and receipt book are sufficiently well known not to require explana­
tion. The form of cash book is suggested as follow s:

Salaries of investigators


f Salaries, miscellaneous
I Furniture
1 Stationery, printing
[ Postage
I Supplies
i Telephone
Traveling expenses
Petty cash
Fund for litigation ex­

Name of person receiving
| Check number
Total paid
| Rent
1 Heat
1 Light
1 Cleaning
I Salaries of lawyers
I Salaries of clerks


Name of person paying
[ Amount of payment
| Dues of members, Class I
1 Dues of members, Class II
1 Dues of members, Class III
I Gifts
[ Welfare Federation
1 Social Agency No. I
I Social Agency No. II
1 Registration fees
| Commissions earned
! Miscellaneous














O i©


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,d >




Office ru les .— A brief consideration of this very extensive part of office
routine is in order. The rules will be better understood if we consider first
what is the progress of a case through the office from the time the applicant


first enters *the door until the whole matter is finally disposed of.
following gives some idea o f th is:


1. Preliminary registration o f applicant by clerk, who takes down a brief
statement of the data as to client appearing on the docket card.
2. Applicant interviews attorney and tells him the full story o f the case.
The facts are entered on the docket card.
3. Attorney determines either at the first interview or after careful investi­
(a) Whether the case is within the jurisdiction of the legal aid society.
(b) Whether the applicant is within the jurisdiction o f the legal aid society.
(c) Whether there are other than legal problems involved.
4. I f case or applicant is one which the society can not handle, the attorney
refers the case elsewhere for help and marks it closed as far as the legal aid
society is concerned.
5. I f he finds that both case and client come within the jurisdiction o f the
legal aid society, he may—
(a) Make a further investigation of the applicant’s story.
(&) Proceed to look up the information required.
Proceed with the case. This procedure is usually by way o f con­
6. If he finds that the opposing party is amenable to conciliation, he may
arrange meetings and make the necessary adjustment.
7. I f he finds that the opposing party is not amenable, he may proceed to
8. After court action he proceeds to issue execution and to force compliance
with the court’s decree.
Office rules are divided into rules as to case, and rules as to client In each
our attention is directed to a sorting out of those coming in the door to deter­
mine which are to be accepted and which rejected and how those which are
accepted are to be handled.
Rules as to client.— The problems as to the client are, briefly—
1. Where to draw the line between those persons who can afford to pay a
fee and those who can not.
2. What is to be done with those persons who can afford only a small fee.
3. What is to be done with those persons who require aid of a sort other
than legal.
The line between the legal aid client and the person who can afford to
pay a fee is not to be drawn rigidly. In the last analysis the border line
cases will be comparatively few in number. The average applicant is either
obviously one or the other. A lawyer in legal aid work can resolve those
questions without too much difficulty. The few remaining cases he may refer
to his supervisory committee to determine finally.
The applicant who can pay a small fee is a larger problem. The only
remedy suggested at present is to refer such applicant to the bar association.
Arrangements should be made with the bar association to appoint a com­
mittee to give its advice and assistance in solving such matters. Such a
committee will be invaluable.
Many applicants do not need legal aid at all; financial or medical aid,
employment, and advice are their particular requirements. The procedure
in such cases is to see that the applicant reaches a social welfare organiza­
tion such as is qualified to care for his particular difficulties. Here there
is required close contact with social agencies. The greatest rule o f all as
to clients is that each client should receive the same courteous treatment as
if he were paying a fee.
Rules as to case.— Certain types of cases may produce difficulties unless
they are considered at the very beginning and rules made as to what shall
be done with them.



Divorce cases may conflict with the moral sense o f the community. The
procedure to obtain a divorce may be so expensive that the bar will regard
any person able to pay for it as able also to pay a fee. Negligence cases if
involving more than a nominal sum may create an adverse opinion in the
minds of other lawyers, because such cases if legally valid will be handled
by lawyers generally on a contingent fee basis. Bankruptcy and other cases
where the applicant may be legally right but morally wrong always present
ethical problems.
There is no absolute answer as to whether a legal aid organization should
take any or all o f these cases. Each case must rest on its own merits.
Much difficulty will be avoided by a set o f rules determined in advance by
the supervisory body of the legal aid organization in conjunction with the
legal aid committee o f the local bar association.
There have been questions raised at times as to whether a legal aid organiza­
tion should accept criminal cases. So far the answer has been plain. I f
the staff o f the legal aid organization is equal to the task it certainly should
accept such cases. I f the staff is not adequate it should be made adequate.
Cases to guard against.—There are types o f cases which must be carefully
guarded against or they will cause trouble. Among these are complaints
against members o f the bar and complaints against the bureau itself. Many
applicants will appear claiming that some lawyer has defrauded them and
asking the legal aid society to rise up and denounce the lawyer. When it is
remembered that most lawyers are honest and that many clients do not clearly
understand what their lawyer is doing the legal aid worker will be slow to
proceed in such a case without careful investigation o f the truth o f the ap­
plicant’s story. The grievance committee o f the bar association should take
care o f all such matters. Here again a committee o f the local bar association
will be of great value in providing a method o f handling such cases.
Legal aid clients who are dissatisfied with the results obtained for them
by the society will report to the grievance committee of the bar association
or to other lawyers urging them to expose the society. In such cases the only
defenses are a docket card which shows precisely what was done and why it
was done; and an unimpeachable ethical standing. Any case may result this
way. So the legal aid workers should keep constantly on the alert to justify
every step taken.
In general, contacts with other agencies in the community are helpful to
legal aid work. From them are derived moral and financial support. Clients
are referred by other agencies to the legal aid society. Proper provision can
be made to fit legal aid work into the community so that the society is a
beneficial organization. Certain specific contacts may be mentioned.
Contacts w ith State legislature.—The preventive function o f legal aid work *
is quite as important as the remedial. The records o f the legal aid society
form in many cases the only accurate evidence o f the actual operation o f
certain laws. Care should be taken to see that the records are in condition
to be used by the legislature and also to inform the members o f the legislature
that such material is available. The result will be preventive legislation
based upon facts in many cases o f urgent necessity.
Contacts w ith local la r association.—Legal aid work is a newcomer in the
field previously occupied solely by the bar. I f proper contacts are established,
each o f these groups can keep to its own side o f the road. In the absence o f
such precaution friction will inevitably result.



In every case the local bar association should be asked to appoint a com­
mittee on legal aid work. This committee should be composed of the same
men as, or should sit with the supervisory committee of, the legal aid society
in developing policies and deciding as to the method o f procedure in border­
line cases.
Contacts with the State bar association.—The local legal aid society needs
contact with the State bar association because legal aid work constantly
involves cases in other counties. The State bar association is, in many re­
spects, the moving factor in the development of legal aid work throughout the
State. I f there is an obligation to obtain justice for the people of one’s own
city, it is equally valid with respect to the people of one’s own State.
The practical value o f such contacts lies in the development o f a chain o f
legal aid organizations throughout the State so that a case arising in one
county involving rights or property in another county may be handled ade­
quately in both.
Contacts with social agencies.—Legal aid organizations in the smaller com­
munities, either under the Illinois plan or the Lexington plan, will find need
for the closest contact with social agencies at all times. The social agencies will
be the source o f a large volume of cases. The social workers will cooperate
in making investigations.
In the larger organizations the need for contact, while equally great, arises
from slightly different causes. Many cases come to social agencies involving
legal problems. Many cases come to legal aid agencies involving social problems.
A well-ordered system of community cooperation would require that the legal
aid society care for the legal problems and the social agency for the social
problems. To accomplish the best results in actual practice the contacts
should be such that the individual case or client will not suffer by reason o f
having two agencies attend to phases o f the problem.
Other contacts.— Of the many other contacts, that with the newspapers is the
only one to require mention here. Newspapers are glad to record the facts o f
such legal aid cases as may be revealed without violating any professional
obligation of silence. On the other hand, it is difficult to overestimate the
effect upon the community at large o f adequate newspaper publicity in support
o f the work.
Conclusion.—There are several matters which are invaluable to a legal aid
society. The first is a reputation for settling its cases by conciliation wherever
possible. The second is a reputation for proceeding in a proper case to the
very limit to secure a just settlement. The third is a reputation for fair deal­
ing under all circumstances. Without these, legal aid work will be but a sec­
ondary affair. With them it will take its proper place in the administration
o f justice.
56861°—26----- 10



C ity




O R G A N I Z A T I O N S , 192 5, B Y

A l b a n y , N . Y .............
A t l a n t a , G a ................____

B o s t o n , M a s s ................
D o .............................
D o .............................
B r id g e p o r t , C o n n —

D o ......................
B u f f a l o , N . Y _ .............
D o ..............................
C a m b r id g e , M a s s .. .
C am den, N . J
C h a tta n oog a , T e rm .
C h i c a g o , 1 1 1 . . . .............
D o ..............................
D o ..............................
D o .............................

L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e C h a r it y O r g a n iz a t io n
S o cie ty .
L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y o f t h e C i t y o f A l b a n y ( I n c . ) ___
A t l a n t a L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y .....................................................
L e g a l a id b u r e a u o f t h e B a lt im o r e A llia n c e o f
C h a r ita b le a n d S o cia l A g e n c ie s .
B o s t o n L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y .................. ..................................
N a t io n a l A s s o c ia t io n o f L e g a l A i d O r g a n iz a t io n s .
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e A m e r ic a n B a r A s s o c i­
a t io n .
L e g a l a id d iv is io n , d e p a r t m e n t o f p u b l ic c h a r i­
tie s .
R o b e r t F . d e F o r e s t , p u b l i c d e f e n d e r _______________
L e g a l A i d B u r e a u o f B u f f a l o ( I n c . ) ...............................
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e N e w Y o r k S ta te B a r
A s s o cia tio n .
H a r v a r d L e g a l A i d B u r e a u .................................................
L e g a l a i d b u r e a u , B u r e a u o f C h a r i t i e s _____________
S o c i a l s e r v i c e b u r e a u ................................................................
L e g a l a i d b u r e a u o f t h e U n i t e d C h a r i t i e s .................
J e w i s h S o c i a l S e r v i c e B u r e a u o f C h i c a g o , le g a l
a id d e p a r t m e n t .
C h ic a g o B a r A s s o c ia tio n c o m m it t e e o n d e fe n se
o f p o o r p e r s o n s a c c u s e d o f c r im e .
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e I llin o is S ta te B a r


A d d ress

N a m e o f o r g a n iz a t io n

A k r o n , O h i o ..................

B a ltim o r e , M d


5 E a st B u ch tel A v e .

86 S t a t e

S t.
R o o m 922, F u lt o n C o u n t y C o u r t ­
h ou se.
830 M u n s e y B ld g .
16 A s h b u r t o n P l a c e .
I l l D e v o n s h ir e S t.
60 S ta te S t.
P u b lic W e lfa r e B ld g .
F ir s t N a tio n a l B a n k B ld g .
L i n c o l n B l d g . , 3 27 W a s h i n g t o n
E r ie
C ou n ty
S a v in g s
B ld g .
H a r v a r d L a w S ch o o l.
519 A r c h S t .
H a m . B a n k B ld g .
3 08 N o r t h M i c h i g a n A v e .
180 0 S e l d e n S t .

B ank

112 W . A d a m s S t .
140 S o u t h D e a r b o r n S t .

C i n c i n n a t i , O h i o ____
C le v e la n d , O h io
C o l u m b i a , S . C ______
C o l u m b u s , O h i o _____
D o ..............................
D a l l a s , T e x .....................
D a y t o n , O h i o ...............
D e n v e r , C o l o ................
D e s M o in e s , I o w a
D e tr o it, M ic h
D o ..............................
D u l u t h , M i n n .............
G ra n d R a p id s , M ic h
G reen sb oro, N . C . . .
G r i n n e l l , I o w a .............
H a r r i s b u r g , P a .............
H a r t f o r d , C o n n ______
D o ................................
D o ................................
H o b o k e n , N . J .............
I n d i a n a p o l i s , I n d ___
J e r s e y C i t y , N . J ____

L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y o f C i n c i n n a t i .................... ..................
L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y o f C l e v e l a n d _____ ________________
T h e A s s o c i a t e d C h a r i t i e s o f C o l u m b i a .....................
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e F r a n k lin C o u n t y
B a r A s s o cia tio n .
C a r l Y o u n g , p u b l i c d e f e n d e r ........... .........1
F r e e l e g a l a i d b u r e a u .................................... ...........................
B u r e a u o f l e g a l a i d .....................................................................
L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y o f D e n v e r ___________ _____________
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e F e d e r a t io n o f
W o m e n ’s C lu b s .
L e g a l a id b u r e a u o f t h e D e t r o it B a r A s s o c ia t io n .
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e M i c h i g a n S t a te B a r
A s s o cia tio n .
F r e e le g a l a id b u r e a u , d i v i s i o n o f p u b l i c a f f a i r s . .
L e g a l a id b u r e a u o f t h e S o cia l W e lfa r e A s s o c ia ­
tio n .
C o m m i t t e e o r g a n i z i n g t h e w o r k _____________________
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e S o c ia l S e r v ic e L e a g u e .
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e D a u p h in C o u n t y B a r
A s so cia tio n .
L e g a l a i d b u r e a u .................... .....................................................
J o h n F . F o r w a r d , p u b l i f d e f e n d e r . ........................... ..
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e C o n n e c t ic u t S ta te
B a r A s so cia tio n .
L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y o f H o b o k e n ...........................................
F a m i l y W e l f a r e S o c i e t y ____ ______ ____________________
L e g a l A i d S o c i e t y o f J e r s e y C i t y .....................................

K a n s a s C i t y , M o ____
K n o x v i l l e , T e r m _____

L e g a l a i d b u r e a u , b o a r d o f p u b l i c w e lf a r e .

L a n s i n g , M i c h _______

L e g a l a id b u r e a u o f t h e I n g h a m C o u n t y B a r A s ­
s o c ia tio n .
L e g a l a i d b u r e a u ........................................................................ .
L e g a l a id c o m m it t e e o f t h e L o n g B e a c h B a r A s ­
s o c ia tio n .
E r n e s t R . O r f i l a , c i t y p o l i c e c o u r t d e f e n d e r .......... .
W i l l i a m T . A g g e le r , p u b l i c ' d e fe n d e r fo r L o s
A n g e le s C o u n ty .

L e x i n g t o n , K y _______
L o n g B e a c h , C a l i f ___
L o s A n g e l e s , C a l i f ___
D o ................................


3 04 S o u t h e r n O h i o B a n k B l d g .
6 14 F i d e l i t y M o r t g a g e B l d g .
1123 G e r v a i s S t .
A s s ig n m e n t r o o m , C o u r th o u s e .
G ra n d T h e a te r B ld g .
C i t y H a ll.
C a p p e l B l d g . , 129 S . L u d l o w S t .
C a r e o f H a r r y C . G r e e n , 712
C e n tr a l S a v in g s B a n k B ld g .
C a re o f D r.
C a r r ie H a r r is o n
D i c k e y , 621 4 8 t h S t .
71 W . W a r r e n A v e .

312 W e s t S u p e r io r S t.
404 H o u s e m a n d B ld g .
C a r e o f S a m u e l R . D i g h t o n , 100 9
J e ffe r s o n S t a n d a r d B ld g .
923 B r o a d S t .
C a re o f G eorg e R o s s H u ll, 5 S .
T h ir d S t.
M u n ic ip a l B ld g .
720 M a i n S t .
18 A s y l u m S t .
1 N e w a r k S t.
5 th F lo o r B a ld w in B lo c k .
C a r e o f J o h n F r a n c i s G o u g h , 15
E x c h a n g e P la c e .
3 d F lo o r , C it y H a ll.
C a re o f M a lc o lm
M cD erm ott,
2 03 E a s t M a i n S t .
C a re o f S o cia l S e rv ice B u r e a u ,
303 W e s t A l l e g a n S t .
C a r e o f T h e A s s o c ia t e d C h a r it ie s .
C a r e o f C l y d e D o y l e , S u i t e 1115
P a c ific -S o u th w e s t B ld g .
4 19 B u l l a r d B l d g . . 156 S p r i n g S t .
9 06 H a l l o f R e c o r d s .



Louisville, Ky__
Memphis, Tenn.

Name of organization
Legal Aid Society of Louisville.
Memphis Legal Aid Society___

609 Realty Bldg.
Room 7, basement county court­
85 Oneida St.
840 Wells Bldg.

Milwaukee, W is___ Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee............................
Do........................ Legal aid committee of the Wisconsin State Bar
Minneapolis, Minn. Legal aid society of the Associated Charities....... 510 Temple Court.
Do........................ L. L. Longbrake, public defender......................... 801 New York Life Bldg.
Montreal.................... Montreal Legal Aid Bureau.................................... 207 St. Catherine St. West.
Do........................ Legal aid department............................................... Care of Baron de Hirsch Inst..
410 Bleury St.
Nashville, Tenn.
Legal aid bureau.
Care of Nashville Chamber of
Newark, N. J............ Essex County Legal Aid Association.
22 Market St.
New Bedford, Mass. New Bedford Legal Aid Society....... .
234 Union St.
New Haven, Conn..
D o....................... Samuel E. Hoyt, public defender.
Colonial Bldg., 195 Church St.
New Orleans, La___ Legal Aid Society of Louisiana. __
1406 Whitney Central Bank
New York City.
The Legal Aid Society.............................................. 239 Broadway.
Do............... .
Legal aid bureau of the Educational Alliance___ East Broadway and Jefferson
Do........................ National Desertion Bureau..... .*.............................. 799 Broadway (cor. Eleventh St.).
Do........................ Voluntary defenders committee of the Legal Aid 32 Franklin St.
Oakland, Calif_____ Associated Charities of the City of Oakland........ 1930 Harrison St.
Omaha, Nebr______ Free legal aid bureau................................................ 403 City Hall.
Do........................ John N . Baldwin, public defender............ ............ 1106 First National Bank Bldg.
Passaic, N. J............. James H. Donnelly, overseer of the poor.............. Municipal Bldg.
Philadelphia, Pa___ Bureau of legal aid, Department of Public Wel­ 587 City Hall.
Do........................ National Association of Legal Aid Organizations. 133 South Twelfth St.
Do........................ Legal aid committee of the Pennsylvania Bar
Pittsburgh, Pa.......... Legal Aid Society of Pittsburgh............................. 1315 Union Trust Bldg.
Pittsfield, Mass........ Associated Charities........................... .................... 119 Fenn St.
Plainfield, N . J......... Case conference committee, Society for Organ­ City Hall.
izing Charity.
Pontiac, Mich_____ Social service bureau____________ _________ ____ Pythian Bldg., Huron St. West.
Portland, M e______ Associated Charities___________________________ 15 City Bldg.
Portland, Oreg......... Legal aid committee___________________________ Care of George S. Shepard,
Gasco Bldg.
Providence, R. I ___ Legal Aid Society of Rhode Island........................ 326 Grosvenor Bldg.
Reading, Pa________ Legal aid committee of the Berks County Bar Liberty Bank Bldg.
Richmond, V a.......... Legal Aid Society of Richmond________________ 601 North Lombardy St.
Rochester, N . Y ____ Legal Aid Society..................... ................... ............ 31 Exchange St.
St. Louis, M o______ Legal aid bureau, department of public welfare. 208 Municipal Court Bldg.
St. Paul, Minn......... Legal aid department of the United Charities.. . 203 Wilder Bldg.
San Diego, Calif____ J. A. Hahn, attorney under the DeWitt C. Mit­ 548 Spreckels Bldg.
chell Trust.
San Francisco, Calif. Legal Aid Society of San Francisco_____________ 912 Hearst Bldg.
Do...................... . Frank Egan, public defender.................................. Hall of Justice.
Do........................ Legal aid committee of the California State Bar 821 First National Bank Bldg.
Schenectady, N . Y ._ Allan B. Mann, American Legion Post No. 21.. 420 State St.
Scranton, Pa........... Legal aid committee, Lackawanna County Bar Connell Bldg.
Seattle, Wash........... Legal service bureau, Social Welfare League........ 243 Central Bldg.
Springfield, M ass.. . Committee organizing the work............................. Care of Edward S. Bradford, 359
State St.
572 Ontario St.
Toledo, Ohio............. The Social Service Federation................
1022 Eleventh St. N W .
Washington, D . C . . Legal aid bureau, Associated Charities
Care of F. Regis Noel, 408 Fifth
Do........................ “ The Barristers” ......................................
St. N W .
Wilkes-Barre, Pa___ The United Charities...................... ....................... 46 North Washington St.
Worcester, Mass___ Legal aid committee of the Worcester Bar Asso­ 314 Main St.
Yonkers, N . Y .......... Charity Organization Society____ . . . . . . . . . ____ 55 South Broadway.
Youngstown, Ohio— Committee organizing the work___ . . . . . . . . . ___ Care of C. H. Crumpler, 37 Cen­
tral Square.


Pream ble

W e, the undersigned legal aid organizations of the United States, acting
through our duly accredited representatives, hereby join ourselves together
and adopt the following articles of agreement in order to form a more perfect
national legal aid organization, establish the powers which shall be entrusted
to it, and create a constitution for its governance.
A rtic l e I
S e c t io n 1.— Name

The name by which this organization shall be known is the National Asso­
ciation of Legal Aid Organizations.
S e c tion 2.—


The objects and purposes of this association shall be to promote and develop
legal aid work, to encourage the formation of new legal aid organizations
wherever they may be needed, to provide a central body with defined duties
and powers for the guidance of legal aid work, and to cooperate with the
judiciary, the bar, and all organizations interested in the administration of
S ec tio n 3.—


To the end that the national association may be empowered and equipped
to carry out its purposes it shall have and exercise:
1. Supervision over legal aid work in its national aspects, over the rela­
tionships between legal aid organizations and all other national organiza­
tions, and over the relationships between legal aid organizations.
2. Supervision over all matters pertaining to the work of encouraging the
formation of new legal aid organizations.
3. The right to promulgate standards as to the conduct of legal aid work,
including classification of clients and cases, the methods of keeping financial
accounts, and the manner of rendering reports to the public.
4. The privilege of visitation, including access to the books, accounts, and
records of any legal aid organization, other than information privileged by
the relation of attorney and client; provided, however, that such access shall
be had only by an officer of the association after authorization by the execu­
tive committee of the association, and shall be subject to the legal right of
such member organization to control its own books, accounts, and records.
5. The right to call for any information, other than information privileged
by the relation of attorney and client, in the possession of any legal aid
6. The right to publish accounts of legal aid work, to make reports and
suggestions to the governing board of any legal aid organization, and to make
public the names of organizations which are delinquent as to membership,
dues, or the conduct of their work.

r t ic l e


S e c t i o n L — Qualifications fo r membership

Any organization actively engaged in any form o f legal aid work shall be
eligible to membership in the association.



The word " organization,” as used in this constitution, shall be deemed to
include any private society or association, or any department, bureau, or com­
mittee thereof, any public department, bureau, or office, and any committee
or other group of persons.
Se c t io n 2. —Election

to membership

Any organization, qualified as defined in the preceding section, may apply to
the executive committee for admission to membership and may be elected to
membership by a majority vote of the executive committee.
S e ction 3. —Representation

and dues

1. Every member organization shall be entitled to representation in the
council of the association, as follow s:
Glass I.— Organizations receiving not more than 1,500 cases per annum shall
be entitled to one representative and shall pay dues to the association of $25
per annum.
Class II.— Organizations receiving more than 1,500 and less than 5,000 cases
per annum shall be entitled to two representatives and shall pay dues to the
association of $75 per annum.
Glass III. — Organizations receiving more than 5,000 cases per annum shall
be entitled to three representatives and shall pay dues to the association of
$200 per annum.
2. A ll questions as to classification shall be settled or resolved by the execu­
tive committee.
S ec tio n 4. —Nonpayment

of dues

Nonpayment of dues within the time fixed by the executive committee shall
automatically operate to suspend the membership of the delinquent organiza­
tion. Upon the payment of all accrued dues the delinquent organization may,
by vote of the executive committee, regain membership in good standing.
S e c t io n 5.—Associate


The council or executive committee may elect to associate membership in the
association any public official body or other person actively engaged in any
form of legal aid w ork; provided, however, that such associate members shall
not be entitled to vote and shall pay no dues.
S e c t io n 6.—Contributing


The council or executive committee may elect to contributing membership in
the association any person interested in any form of legal aid w ork; provided,
however, that such contributing member shall not be entitled to vote. Contrib­
uting members shall pay such dues as the executive committee may establish.
S e c t io n 7.—Cancellation

of membership

The membership or associate membership of any organization or person may
be withdrawn or canceled by a two-thirds vote of the representatives present
at any annual meeting of the council, provided notice of such intended action
be included in the call for the meeting, and provided, however, that member­
ship shall be so withdrawn or canceled only when it appears to the council
that the member has been guilty of a violation of the terms of this constitution,
or of such by-laws as may be adopted, or of such regulations as may be estab­
lished by the council pursuant to section 3 of Article I. Any associate or
contributing membership may be terminated in the discretion of the council or
executive committee.
S e c t io n

8.—Resignation from membership

Any member may resign by giving the secretary notice in writing o f such
member’s resignation, to take effect not less than 10 days after giving o f such


A r t ic l e I I I

S e c t io n 1.—

Council, composition

The council of the association shall consist of all the duly accredited rep­
resentatives of the member organizations.
S ection 2.— Meetings

The council shall meet annually at a time and place to be fixed by the
executive committee.
Special meetings of the council may be called by the executive committee in
its discretion. Any 10 member organizations may, by notice signed'by them,
call a special meeting for the transaction of such business as is expressly set
forth in the notice.
Every member organization shall be entitled to receive at least 20 days*
notice of any meeting of the council.
A t any meeting representation of six members or presence of 12 representa­
tives shall constitute a quorum.
S e c t io n

3.— Voting

A t meetings of the council each representative shall be entitled to one vote.
Any five representatives may require that a vote on any matter shall be taken
by a calling of the roll of accredited representatives.
S e ction 4. — Powers

The council shall have and exercise the supreme control over all the work
of the association and of its officers. All powers not expressly vested in the
executive committee or in the officers shall vest in the council; provided,
however, that the council may in so far as is consistent with this constitution
delegate power, by appropriate vote, to an officer, or to the executive com­
mittee, or to such other committees as it may designate.
A r t ic l e I V
S ec tio n 1.—

Executive committee, composition

There shall be an executive committee consisting of seven persons who shall
be elected by the council at each annual meeting. The members of the execu­
tive committee shall hold office for one year, or until their successors are
S e c t io n 2.—


The executive committee shall meet at such times and places as the president
may fix. Each member shall be entitled to receive four days’ notice of any
A special meeting may be called by any three members of the
committee, but each member shall be entitled to receive 10 days’ notice of
such special meeting.
Four members shall' constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business
at any meeting.
S ec tio n

3.— Powers

During the intervals between meetings of the council the executive com­
mittee shall, subject to such limitations as the council may prescribe, have
full authority to carry on the work of the association.
S ec tio n 4.— Correspondence

The executive committee may transact business by correspondence among
its members and may vote by mail, but in such case an affirmative vote of
five members shall be required for the passage of any vote.

Section 5.— Vacancies

In the event o f any vacancy in any office, the executive committee shall
have power to fill the vacancy for the balance o f the unexpired term.

A k t ic l e



S ec tio n 1 — Officers

In addition to the executive committee, the association shall have the
following officers: A president, one or more vice-presidents, a treasurer, and
a secretary.
The association may also elect an honorary president from time to time.
The officers shall be elected by the council at it's annual meeting. They
shall hold office for the term of one year and until their respective successors
have been elected.
S e c tion 2.— P residen t

It shall be the duty of the president to preside at all meetings of the council,
to call meetings of the executive committee, to appoint all committees except
as otherwise ordered, to present each year a summary report of the activities
of the association, and to perform such other duties as are prescribed by the
He shall be a member of the executive committee ex officio.
S ection 3.— Vice president

It shall be the duty of a vice president to preside at meetings of the council
whenever the president is absent, and to perform such other duties as the
council may prescribe.
S ection 4.— T rea su rer

It shall be the duty of the treasurer to collect the membership dues, to re­
ceive, hold, manage, and disburse the funds of the association, to sign checks
in the name and behalf of the association, to furnish a surety bond in a sum
to be fixed by the executice committee, to keep proper books of account which
shall be audited at least once a year, to present each year to the council a
financial statement for the preceding period, and to perform such other duties
as may be prescribed by the council or executive committee.
The treasurer shall have no power to borrow money or sign promissory notes
in the name of the association, unless specifically authorized by vote of the
executive committee.
S ection 5.— S ecreta ry

It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep an exact record of the proceed­
ings of the council and of the executive committee, to compile and maintain
an accurate list of the member organizations and of their accredited repre­
sentatives, to call the roll whenever a record vote is required, to send out to
the members proper notices of all meetings, copies of the records of all pro­
ceedings, and copies of such votes, by-laws, and regulations as may be adopted,
to have custody of and preserve the records and files of the association, and
to perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the council or executive
A b t ic l e VI
S e ction 1.— B y-la ics

The council may from time to time adopt by-laws, not inconsistent with this
constitution, for the regulation of the work of the association. Such by-laws
may be altered, amended, or repealed at any meeting of the council.
S e ction 2.— A m en d m en ts

This constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the member or­
ganizations represented at any meeting of the council, provided that the call
for the meeting gives notice of the proposal to amend and of the general
character of the proposed amendment or amendments.


T he publication o f the annual and special reports and o f the bim onthly bulletin was
discontinued in July, 1912, and since that tim e a bulletin has been published at irregular
intervals. Each num ber contains m atter devoted to one o f a series o f general subjects.
These bulletins are num bered consecutively, beginning with N o. 101, and up to N o. 236 they
also carry consecutive num bers under each series. Beginning with N o. 237 the serial n u m ­
bering has been discontinued. A list o f the series is given below. Under each is grouped
all the bulletins which contain material relating to the subject m atter o f that series. A list
o f th e reports and bulletins o f the Bureau issued prior to July 1, 1912, will be furnished on
application. The bulletins marked thus * are o u t o f print.

Wholesale Prices.


Bui. 296.
Bui. 320.
Bui. 335.
Bui. 367.
Bui. 390.
B ui. 396.

Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1912.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1913.
Index numbers of wholesale prices in the United States and foreign countries.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1914.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1915.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1916.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1919.
Index numbers of wholesale prices in the United States and foreign countries.
Bulletin N o. 173.]
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1920.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1921.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1922.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1923.
Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1924.
Retail prices, 1890 to 1924.

[Revision of

Retail Prices and Cost of Living.

*Bul. 105. Retail prices, 1890 to 1911: Part I.
Retail prices, 1890 to 1911: Part II—General tables.
♦Bill. 106. Retail prices, 1890 to June, 1912:.Part I.
Retail prices, 1890 to June, 1912: Part II—General tables.
Bui. 108. Retail prices, 1890 to August, 1912.
Bui. 110. Retail prices, 1890 to October, 1912.
Bui. 113. Retail prices, 1890 to December, 1912.
Bui. 115. Retail prices, 1890 to February, 1913.
*Bul. 121. Sugar prices, from refiner to consumer
Bui. 125. Retail prices, 1890 to April, 1913.
*Bul. 130. Wheat and Hour prices, from farmer to consumer.
Bui. 132. Retail prices, 18905 o June, 1913.
Bui. 136. Retail prices, 1890 to August, 1913.
•Bui. 138. Retail prices, 1890 to October, 1913.
•Bui. 140. Retail prices, 1890 to December, 1913.
Bui 156. Retail prices, 1907 to December, 1914.
Bui. 164. Butter prices, from producer to consumer.
Bui. 170. Foreign food prices as affected b y the war.
•Bui. 184. Retail prices, 1907 to June, 1915.
Bui. 197. Retail prices, 1907 to December, 1915.
Bui. 228. Retail prices, 1907 to December, 1916.
Bui. 270. Retail prices, 1913 to Decem ber, 1919.
Bui. 300. Retail prices, 1913 to 1920.
Bui. 315. Retail prices, 1913 to 1921.
Bui. 334. Retail prices, 1913 to 1922.
Bui. 357. Cost of living in the United States.
Bui. 366. Retail prices, 1913 to December, 1923.
Bui. 369. The use of cost-of-living figures in wage adjustment®.
B ui. 396. Retail prices, 1890 to December, 1924.

Wages and Honrs of Labor.

B ui. 116. Hours, earnings, and duration of em ployment of wage-earning women In *elected industries
in the District of Columbia.
•Bui. 118. Ten-hour maximum working-day for wom en and young persons.
Bui. 119. W orking hours of women in the pea canneries of Wisconsin
•Bui. 128. Wages and hours of labor in the cotton, woolen, and silk industries, 1890 to 1912.
•Bui 129. Wages and hours of labor in the lumber, millwork, and furniture industries, 1890 to 1912.
•Bui. 131. Union scale of wages and hours o f labor, 1907 to 1912.


W ages and Hours o f Labor—Continued.
• *Bul. 134. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe and hosiery and knit goods industries, 1890
to 1912.
*Bul. 135. Wages and hours of labor in the cigar and clothing industries, 1911 and 1912.
Bui 137. Wages and hours of labor in the building and repairing of steam railroad cars, 1890 to 1912.
B ui 143. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1913.
*Bul. 146. Wages and regularity, of employment and standardization of piece rates in the dress and
waist industry of N ew York City.
*Bul. 147. Wages and regularity of employment in the cloak, suit, and skirt industry*
•Bill. 150. Wages and hours of labor in the cotton, woolen, and silk industries, 1907 to 1913.
*Bul. 151. Wages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry in the United States, 1907 to 1912.
Bui. 153. Wages and hours of labor in the lumber, millwork, and furniture industries, 1907 to 1913.
*Bul 154. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe and hosiery and underwear industries, 1907
to 1913.
Bui. 160. Hours, earnings, and conditions of labor of women in Indiana mercantile establishments
and garment factories.
Bui. 161. Wages and hours of labor in the clothing and cigar industries, 1911 to 1913.
Bui. 163. Wages and hours of labor in the building and repairing of steam railroad cars, 1907 to 1913.
Bui. 168. Wages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1913.
*Bul. 171. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 1,1914.
Bui. 177. Wages and hours of labor in the hosiery and underwear industry, 1907 to 1914.
Bui. 178. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1914.
*Bul. 187. Wages and hours of labor in the men’s clothing industry, 1911 to 1914.
*Bul. 190. Wages and hours of labor in the cotton, woolen, and silk industries, 1907 to 1914.
*Bul. 194. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 1,1915.
Bui. 204. Street railway employment in the United States.
Bui. 214. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1916.
Bui. 218. Wages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1915.
Bui. 221. Hours, fatigue, and health in British munition factories.
Bui. 225. Wages and hours of labor in the lumber, millwork, and furniture industries, 1915.
Bui. 232. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1916.
Bui. 238. Wages and hours of labor in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing, 1916.
Bui. 239. Wages and hours of labor in cotton goods manufacturing and finishing, 1916.
Bui. 245. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1917.
Bui. 252. Wages and hours of labor in the slaughtering and meat-packing industry, 1917.
Bui. 259. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1918.
Bui. 260. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1918.
Bui. 261. Wages and hours of labor in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing, 1918.
Bui. 262. Wages and hours of labor in cotton goods manufacturing and finishing, 1918.
B ui. 265. Industrial survey in selected industries in the United States, 1919. Preliminary report.
*Bul. 274. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1919.
Bui. 278. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1920.
Bui. 279. Hours and earnings in anthracite and bituminous coal mining: Anthracite, 1919 and 1920;
bituminous, 1920.
Bui. 286. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1920.
Bui. 288. Wages and hours of labor in cotton goods manufacturing, 1920.
Bui. 289. Wages and hours of labor in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing, 1920.
Bui. 294. Wages and hours of labor in the slaughtering and meat-packing industry in 1921.
Bui. 297. Wages and hours of labor in the petroleum industry, 1920.
Bui. 302. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1921
Bui. 305. Wages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1920.
Bui. 316. Hours and earnings in anthracite and bituminous coal mining—anthracite, January, 1922,
bituminous, winter of 1921-22.
Bui. 317. Wages and hours of labor in lumber manufacturing, 1921.
Bui. 324. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1922.
Bui. 325. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15,1922.
Bui. 327. Wages and hours of labor in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing, 1922.
Bui. 328. Wages and hours of labor in hosiery and underwear industry, 1922.
Bui. 329. Wages and hours of labor in the men’s clothing industry, 1922.
Bui. 345. Wages and hours of labor in cotton goods manufacturing, 1922.
Bui. 348. Wages and hours of labor in the automobile industry, 1922.
Bui. 353. Wages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1922.
Bui. 354. Union scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15, 1923.
Bui. 356. Productivity cost in the com m on-brick industry, 1922-23.
B ui. 358. Wages and hours of labor in the automobile tire industry, 1923
Bui. 360. Tim e and labor costs in manufacturing 100 pairs of shoes.
Bui. 362. Wages and hours of labor in foundries and machine shops, 1923.
Bui. 363. Wages and hours of labor in lumber manufacturing, 1923.


W ages and H ours o f Labor—Continued.
B ui. 365. Wages and hours of labor in the paper and pulp industry.
Bui 371. Wages and hours of labor in cotton goods manufacturing, 1924.
Bui. 373. Wages and hours of labor in slaughtering and meat-packing industry, 1923.
Bui. 374. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1924.
Bui. 376. Wages and hours of labor in the hosiery and underwear industry, 1907 to 1924.
Bui. 377. Wages and hours of labor in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing, 1924.
Bui. 381. Wages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry. 1907 to 1924.
Bui. 387. Wages and hours of labor in the men's clothing industry.
Bui. 388. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M a y 15, 1924.
Bui. 394. Wages and hours of labor in metalliferous mines, 1924.

Employment and Unemployment.
*Bul. 109. Statistics of unemployment and the work of employment offices.
Bui. 116. Hours, earnings, and duration of employment of wage-earning women in selected industries
in the District of Columbia.
Bui. 172. Unemployment in N ew Y ork C ity, N . Y .
•Bui. 182. Unemployment among women in department and other retail stores of Boston, Mass.
*Bul. 183. Regularity of employment in the women’s ready-to-wear garment industries.
Bui. 192. Proceedings of the American Association of Public Employment Offices.
*Bul. 195. Unem ploym ent in the United States.
Bui. 196. Proceedings of the Em ploym ent Managers’ Conference held at Minneapolis, M inn., Janu­
ary, 1916.
•Bui. 202. Proceedings of the conference of Employment Managers’ Association of Boston, Mass.,
held M a y 10,1916.
B ui. 206. The British system of labor exchanges.
B ui. 220. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the American Association of Public E m ploy­
ment Offices, Buffalo, N . Y ., July 20 and 21,1916.
B ui. 223. Em ploym ent of wom en and juveniles in Great Britain during the war.
*Bul. 227. Proceedings of the Em ploym ent Managers’ Conference, Philadelphia, Pa., April 2 and 3,
B ui. 235. Em ploym ent system of the Lake Carriers’ Association.
•Bui. 241. Public employment offices in the United States.
Bui. 247. Proceedings of Em ploym ent Managers’ Conference, Rochester, N . Y ., M a y 9-11,1918.
B ui. 310. Industrial unemployment: A statistical study of its extent and causes.
Bui. 311. Proceedings of the N inth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Public Em*
ploym ent Services, held at Buffalo, N . Y ., September 7-9,1921.
Bui. 337. Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Public Em­
ploym ent Services, held at Washington, D . C ., September 11-13, 1922.
B ui. 355. Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the International Association o f Public
Employment Services, held at Toronto, Canada, September 4-7, 1923.

Women in Industry.
Bui. 116. Hours, earnings, and duration of employment of wage-earning women in selected industries
in the District of Columbia.
*Bul. 117. Prohibition of night work of young persons.
•Bui. 118. Ten-hour maximum working-day for women and young persons.
Bui. 119. W orking hours of women in the pea canneries of Wisconsin.
•Bui. 122. Employment of wom en in power laundries in Milwaukee.
Bui. 160. Hours, earnings, and conditions of labor of women in Indiana mercantile establishments
and garment factories.
•Bui. 167. Minimum-wage legislation in the United States and foreign countries.
•Bui. 175. Summary of the report on condition of wom an and child wage earners in the United States.
•Bui. 176. Effect of minimum-wage determinations in Oregon.
•Bui. 180. The boot and shoe industry in Massachusetts as a vocation for women.
•Bui. 182. Unemployment among wom en in department and other retail stores of Boston, Mass.
Bui. 193. Dressmaking as a trade for women in Massachusetts.
Bui. 215. Industrial experience of trade-school girls in Massachusetts.
•Bui. 217. Effect of workmen’s compensation laws in diminishing the necessity of industrial employ­
ment of wom en and children.
Bui. 223. Em ploym ent of women and juveniles in Great Britain during the war.
Bui. 253. W om en in the lead industries.

Workmen’s Insurance and Compensation (including laws relating thereto)*


Care of tuberculous wage earners in Germany.
British National Insurance A ct, 1911.
Sickness and accident insurance law of Switzerland.
Law relating to insurance of salaried employees in Germany.
W orkm en’s compensation laws of the United States and foreign countries.
Compensation for accidents to employees, of the United States.


W orkm en's Insurance and Compensation— Continued.
*Bul. 185. Compensation legislation of 1914 and 1915.
•Bui. 203. W orkm en’s compensation laws of the United States and foreign countries. 1918.
Bui. 210. Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Coiumbus, Ohio, April 25^28,1916.
Bui. 212. Proceedings of the conference on social insurance called b y the International Association of
Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions,.Washington, D . C ., December 5-9,1916.
Bui. 217. Effect of workmen’s compensation laws in diminishing the necessity of industrial employ­
ment of women and children.
*Bul. 240. Comparison of workmen’s compensation laws of the United States, up to December 31,1917.
Bui. 243. W orkmen’s compensation legislation in the United States and foreign countries, 1917 and 1918.
Bui. 248. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Boston, Mass., August 21-25,1917.
Bui. 264. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Madison, W is., September 24-27, 1918.
Bui. 272. W orkmen’s compensation legislation of the United States and Canada, 1919.
*Bul. 273. Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Toronto, Canada, September 23-26, 1919.
Bui. 275. Comparison of workmen’s compensation laws of the United States and Canada, Up to Jan­
uary, 1920.
Bui. 281. Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at San Francisco, Calif., September 20-24,1920.
Bui. 301. Comparison of workmen’s compensation insurance and administration.
Bui. 304. Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Chicago, 111., September 19-23,1921.
Bui. 312. National Health Insurance in Great Britain, 1911 to 1920.
Bui. 332. W orkm en’s compensation legislation of the United States and Canada, 1920 to 1922.
Bui. 333. Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Baltimore, M d ., October 9-13, 1922.
Bui. 359. Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at St. Paul, M inn., September 24-26,1923.
Bui. 379. Comparison of workmen’s compensation laws in the United States as of January 1, 1925.
Bui. 385. Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the International Association of Industrial
Accident Boards and Commissions, held at Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 26-28,1924.
Bui. 395. Index to proceedings of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and
Industrial Accidents and Hygiene.
•Bui. 104. Lead poisoning in potteries, tile works, and porcelain enameled sanitary ware factories.
Bui. 120. Hygiene of the painters’ trade.
•Bui. 127. Dangers to workers from dust and fumes, and methods of protection.
•Bui. 141. Lead poisoning in the smelting and refining of lead.
•Bui. 157. Industrial accident statistics.
•Bui. 165. Lead poisoning in the manufacture of storage batteries.
•Bui. 179. Industrial poisons used in the rubber industry.
Bui. 188. Report of British departmental committee on the danger in the use of lead in the paint­
ing of buildings.
•Bui. 201. Report of committee on statistics and compensation insurance cost of the International
Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions. [Limited edition.]
Bui. 205. Anthrax as an occupational disease.
*Bul. 207. Causes of death b y occupation.
•Bui. 209. Hygiene of the printing trades.
•Bui. 216. Accidents and accident prevention in machine building.
Bui. 219. Industrial poisons used or produced in the manufacture of explosives.
Bui. 221. Hours, fatigue, and health in British munition factories.
Bui. 230. Industrial efficiency and fatigue in British munition factories.
•Bui. 231. M ortality from respiratory diseases in dusty trades (inorganic dusts).
•Bui. 234. Safety movement in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1917.
Bui. 236. Effect of the air hammer on the hands of stonecutters.
Bui. 251. Preventable deaths in the cotton manufacturing industry.
Bui. 253. W omen in the lead industries.
Bui. 256. Accidents and accident prevention in machine building. (Revision of Bui. 210.)
Bui. 267. Anthrax as an occupational disease. [Revised.] •
Bui. 276. Standardization of industrial accident statistics.
Bui. 280. Industrial poisoning in making coal-tar dyes and dye intermediates.
Bui. 291. Carbon monoxide poisoning.
Bui. 293. The problem of dust phthisis in the granite-stone industry.
Bui. 298. Causes and prevention of accidents in the iron and steel industry, 1910 to 1919.

(i t )

Industrial Accidents and Hygiene—Continued.
Bui. 306. Occupation hazards and diagnostic signs: A guide to impairment to be looked for in haz*
ardous occupations.
Bui. 339. Statistics of industrial accidents in the United States.
Bui. 392. Hygiene of the printing trades.

Conciliation and Arbitration (including strikes and lockouts).
*Bul. 124. Conciliation and arbitration in the building trades of Greater New York.
*Bul. 133. Report of the industrial council of the British Board of Trade on its inquiry into industrial
*Bul. 139. Michigan copper district strike.
Bui. 144. Industrial court of the cloak, suit, and skirt industry of New York City.
Bui. 145. Conciliation, arbitration, and sanitation in the dress and waist industry of New York City.
Bui. 191. Collective bargaining in the anthracite coal industry.
*Bul. 198. Collective agreements in the men’s clothing industry.
Bui. 233. Operation of the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act of Canada.
Bui. 303. Use of Federal power in settlement of railway labor disputes.
Bui. 341. Trade agreement in the silk-ribbon industry of New York City.

Labor Laws of the United States (including decisions of courts relating to labor).
*Bul. 111.
•Bui. 112.
*Bul. 148.
*Bul. 152.
*Bul. 166.
*Bul. 169.
•Bui 186.
•Bui. 189.
Bui. 211.
•Bui. 213.
Bui. 224.
Bui. 229.
•Bui. 244.
Bui. 246.
•Bui. 257.
Bui. 258.
•Bui. 277.
Bui. 285.
Bui. 290.
Bui. 292.
Bui. 308.
Bui. 309.
Bui. 321.
Bui. 322.
Bui. 330.
Bui. 343.
Bui. 344.
Bui. 370.
Bui. 391.

Labor legislation of 1912.
Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1912.
Labor laws of the United States, with decisions of courts relating thereto.
Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1913.
Labor legislation of 1914.
Decisions of courts affecting labor, 1914
Labor legislation of 1915.
Decisions of courts affecting labor, 1915.
Labor laws and their administration in the Pacific States.
Labor legislation of 1916.
Decisions of courts affecting labor, 1916.
Wage-payment legislation in the United States.
Labor legislation of 1917.
Decisions of courts affecting labor, 1917.
Labor legislation of 1918.
Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1918.
Labor legislation of 1919.
Minimum-wage legislation in the United States.
Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1919-1920.
Labor legislation of 1920.
Labor legislation of 1921.
Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1921.
Labor laws that have been declared unconstitutional.
Kansas Court of Industrial Relations.
Labor legislation of 1922.
Laws providing for bureaus of labor statistics, etc.
Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1922.
Labor laws of the United States, with decisions of courts relating thereto.
The decisions of courts affecting labor, 1923-1924.

Foreign Labor Laws.
•Bui. 142. Administration of labor laws and factory inspection in certain European countries.

Vocational Education.
Bui. 145. Conciliation, arbitration, and sanitation in the dress and waist industry of New York City.
•Bui. 147. Wages and regularity of employment in the cloak, suit, and skirt industry, with plans for
apprenticeship for cutters and the education of workers in the industry
•Bui. 159. Short-unit courses for wage earners, and a factory school experiment.
•Bui. 162. Vocational education survey of Richmond, Va.
Bui. 199. Vocational education survey of Minneapolis, Minn.
Bui. 271. Adult working-class education (Great Britain and the United States).

Labor as Affected by the War.
Bui. 170.
Bui. 219.
Bui. 221.
Bui. 222.
Bui. 223.
Bui. 230.
Bui. 237.

Foreign food prices as affected by the war.
Industrial poisons used or produced in the manufacture of explosives.
Hours, fatigue, and health in British munition factories.
Welfare work in British munition factories.
Employment of women and juveniles in Great Britain during the war.
Industrial efficiency and fatigue in British munition factories.
Industrial unrest in Great Britain.

(V )

Labor as Affected by the War—Continued.
Bui. 249. Industrial health and efficiency. Final report of British Health of Munition Workers
Bui. 255. Joint industrial councils in Great Britain.
Bui. 283. History of the Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board, 1917 to 1919.
Bui. 287. History of national War Labor Board.
Safety Codes.
Bui. 331.
Bui. 336.
Bui. 338.
Bui. 350.
Bui. 351.
Bui. 364.
Bui. 375.
Bui. 378.
Bui. 382.

Code of lighting factories, mills, and other work places.
Safety code for the protection of industrial workers in foundries.
Safety code for the use, care, and protection of abrasive wheels.
Rules governing the approval of headlighting devices for motor vehicles.
Safety code for the construction, care, and use of ladders.
Safety code for mechanical power-transmission apparatus.
Safety code for laundry machinery and operations.
Safety code for woodworking machinery.
Code of lighting school buildings.

Miscellaneous Series.
*Bul. 117. Prohibition of night work of young persons.
*Bul. 118. Ten-hour maximum working day for women and young persons.
*Bul. 123. Employers’ welfare work.
*Bul. 158. Government aid to home owning and housing of working people in foreign countries.
*Bul. 159. Short-unit courses for wage earners and a factory school experiment.
*Bul. 167. Minimum-wage legislation in the United States and foreign countries
Bui. 170. Foreign food prices as affected by the war.
*Bul. 174. Subject index of the publications of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics up to
May 1,1915.
Bui. 208. Profit sharing in the United States.
Bui. 222. Welfare work in British munition factories.
Bui. 242. Food situation in central Europe, 1917.
*Bul. 250. Welfare work for employees in industrial establishments in the United States.
Bui. 254. International labor legislation and the society of nations.
Bui, 263. Housing by employers in the United States.
Bui. 266. Proceedings of Seventh Annual Convention of Governmental Labor Officials of the United
States and Canada, held at Seattle, Wash., July 12-15, 1920.
Bui. 288. Historical survey of international action affecting labor.
Bui. 271. Adult working-class education in Great Britain and the United States
Bui. 282. Mutual relief associations among Government employees in Washington, D . O.
Bui. 295. Building operations in representative cities in 1920.
Bui. 299. Personnel research agencies: A guide to organized research in employment management,
industrial relations, training, and working conditions.
Bui. 307. Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Convention of the Association of Governmental Labor
Officials of the United States and Canada, held at New Orleans, La., May 2-6,1921.
Bui. 313. Consumers’ cooperative societies in the United States in 1920.
Bui. 314. Cooperative credit societies in America and foreign countries.
Bui. 318. Building permits in the principal cities of the United States.
Bui. 319. The Bureau of Labor Statistics: Its history, activities, and organization.
Bui. 323. Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Convention of the Association of Governmental Labor
Officials of the United States and Canada, held at Harrisburg, Pa., M ay 22-26,1922.
Bui. 326. Methods of procuring and computing statistical information of the Bureau of Labor Sta­
Bui. 340. Chinese migrations, with special reference to labor conditions.
Bui. 342. International Seamen’s Union of America: A study of its history and problems.
Bui. 346. Humanity in government.
Bui. 347. Building permits in the principal cities of the United States in 1922.
Bui. 349. Industrial relations in the West Coast lumber industry.
Bui. 352. Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Convention of Governmental Labor Officials of the
United States and Canada, held at Richmond, Va., M ay 1-4, 1923.
Bui. 361. Labor relations in the Fairmont (W . Va.) bituminous coal field.
Bui. 368. Building permits in the principal cities of the United States in 1923.
Bui. 372. Convict labor in 1923.
Bui. 380. Post-war labor conditions in Germany.
Bui. 383. Works council movement in Germany.
Bui. 384. Labor conditions in the shoe industry in Massachusetts, 1920-1924.
Bui. 386. The cost of American almshouses.
Bui. 389. Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Convention of the Association of Governmental
Labor Officials of the United States and Canada, held at Chicago, 111., M ay 19-23, 1924.
Bui. 393. Trade agreements, 1923 and 1924.
Bui. 397. Building permits in the principal cities of the United States in 1924.


Description of occupations, prepared for the United States Employment Service, 1918-19.
♦Boots and shoes, harness and saddlery, and tanning.
•Cane-sugar refining and flour milling.
Coal and water gas, paint and varnish, paper, printing trades, and rubber goods.
•Electrical manufacturing, distribution, and maintenance.
Hotels and restaurants.
•Logging camps and sawmills.
Medicinal manufacturing.
Metal working, building and general construction, railroad transportation, and shipbuilding.
•Mines and mining.
•Office employees.
Slaughtering and meat packing.
Street railways.
•Textiles and clothing.
Water transportation.