Copyright (c) 1999 Fordham Law Review
Fordham Law Review
ARTICLE: EVALUATING SYSTEMS FOR DELIVERING LEGAL SERVICES TO
THE POOR: CONCEPTUAL AND METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
67 Fordham L. Rev. 2553
Gregg G. Van Ryzin & Marianne Engelman Lado *
WHEN legal services are delivered to low-income individuals and communities, what are the results or impacts? Are the services meeting the identified needs and achieving the intended objectives? Do the individuals or communities targeted by the services benefit from them? What change, if any, has occurred in society as a result of these programs? How efficient are these services compared to alternative delivery systems? These are some of the basic questions of assessment or evaluation of legal services to the poor, and undoubtedly many of those involved in the field have asked themselves these questions many times. They probably have some answers as well, answers that are good enough to convince them that their work is worthwhile or to suggest refinements and improvements to their everyday practice. The issue in evaluation research, however, becomes how to observe and assess a legal services program objectively and systematically such that it enables program administrators and staff to improve program performance and that it is credible and communicable to funders, policy makers, and other stakeholders, some of whom may be skeptical about the program or simply uninformed about its activities and accomplishments.
This Article provides an overview of the conceptual and methodological issues involved in the systematic evaluation of legal services to the poor, with a focus on rendering guidance to providers of legal services and their funders. Funding constraints, a mandate to measure performance in federal government agencies (including the Legal Services Corporation), greater emphasis on private funding ...
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