Organizing around the right to counsel
Historically, the movement for a right to counsel in civil cases has been driven by the legal community: legal services organizations, private bar associations, law firms, pro bono organizations, nonprofits, access to justice commissions, legal academics, and so on. However, efforts to establish a right to counsel in eviction cases have been achieved in places like New York City, San Francisco, and Newark largely through the efforts of community-based tenant organizing group. When the right to counsel campaigns are centered upon such groups, achievement of the right to counsel can not only increase fairness in the judicial system, but also help transform the general power dynamic between tenants and landlords.
In November 2019, the NCCRC co-hosted a 90-minute webinar with the Right to Counsel Coalition of NYC (RTCNYC) to explore how attorneys can work with tenant organizers in order to pursue a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. Here are the materials from that webinar:
Additionally, RTCNYC has developed an organizing toolkit for jurisdictions looking to initiate a campaign around an eviction right to counsel.