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Lee Epstein
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Lee Epsteing Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor
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REBALANCING THE SCALES OF JUSTICE: AN ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC INTEREST LAW
Published in 1984. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 4 (2): 483-505. (Revised version of a paper delivered at the 1983 meeting of the Law & Society Association.)

Karen O'Connor
Lee Epstein

Introduction

After the apex of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, public interest law grew rapidly. Concern about underrepresentation of minority interests in the legal system led to the founding of numerous public interest law firms. In general, these firms sought to "balance the scales of justice" by litigating for expanded rights in a variety of issue areas.

Paralleling the new conservatism of the 1970s was the swift rise of conservative public interest law. Conservatives, perceiving that liberals had tipped the scales of justice, sought to rebalance the legal systems. Nonetheless, commentators continued to equate public interest law with the advocacy of liberal positions. This tendency led to a misperception about the politicized nature of the legal system. Not only are "liberals" continuing to go to court, but also conservatives are now presenting the courts with their views of the public interest. This has led some commentators to conclude that the courts are battlefields for competing group interests. Thus, in this article we compare the growth and future of liberal and conservative public interest law in the United States.

Click here for the article (.pdf).
Click here for the conference paper (.pdf).