Saturday, May 30, 2020
Do legal clinics help reduce civil unrest? (Michael Simkovic)
A recent article argues that legal clinics funded in the 1960s to help the poor obtain access to legal services helped reduce civil unrest and thereby increased property values in minority communities. The article argues that the timing and location of grants to fund the establishment of these clinics was close enough to random (or at least unrelated to riot propensities) to facilitate causal inference, and attempts to control for differences between areas that received grants and those that did not. In particular, the article instruments by whether or not the community had an established law school, which was a necessary precondition for receipt of a grant to fund a legal clinic.
The debate about law school clinics has tended to focus on the extent to which clinics provide pedagogical benefits and short term employment advantages to law students. But if the authors of the article above are right, clinics may also be a way for law schools and universities to contribute to stability in their local communities.