Law and policy work is often in the "ivory tower" -- where academics or others are secluded in their discipline and communities, cut off from the "real world." Rather than working top-down and telling communities what they need, how can advocates work bottom-up and horizontally? That is, how can lawyers and policy makers make sure they use their skills to help communities how the communities want? And how can we treat each other equally, rather than defaulting to a hierarchy or power?
As I reach the end of my academic career focused on law and policy, I am looking for ideas on how I can use my skills and privilege to help communities. Do you know of any advocates who are able to make communities the driving force behind decisions? What tools or skills do these advocates use to accomplish this?
I love this question and have wondered similar things myself. From my position, professionally, I've seen organizations like Earthjustice and Center for International Environmental Law do great work. But your point is valid, there is an inherent power structure that cannot be diminished. I'm curious if reaching out to talk to the folks working on local cases through those orgnizations could refer you to more horizonal, community-rooted clinics that more emulate the spaces you're looking for. I know of other orgs like Lawers for Good Government or volunteering through legal clinics (like this one in Chicago) could get you closer to those types of spaces.
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