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Civil Rights

(Un)Covering Identity in Civil Rights and Poverty Law

The effective delivery of scarce legal goods to disadvantaged clients requires more than the provision of equal access, case-by-case representation, and zealous advocacy. Scarcity requires that effective legal change be measured not by the outcomes of individual cases, but rather by the progress of social change: specifically, by the degree to which individual clients are able to collaborate in local and national alliances to enlarge civil rights and to alleviate poverty. This Essay argues that, by incorporating the theory of “covering” into their work, legal practitioners in civil rights and poor people’s movements can facilitate such collective action. This Essay also makes the general claim that forming links between theory and practice should be a principal goal of clinical and nonclinical legal education.