Efforts to advance justice and improve the rule of law can be divided into two categories. One set of efforts-by far the better funded and more established of the two-focuses on state institutions, on improving the effectiveness and fairness of the courts, the legislature, the police, the health and education systems, etc. A second set of efforts, sometimes termed legal empowerment, focuses on directly assisting ordinary people, especially the poor, who face justice problems. There are two primary reasons for complementing state-centered reforms with this second type of undertaking. First and most simply, institutional reform is slow and difficult, and there is a need to tend to those wounded by broken systems not yet fixed. Second-and this reason conceives of the poor as agents rather than as victims-lasting institutional change depends on a more empowered polity.
Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Justice Services in Sierra Leone and Worldwide,
Yale J. Int'l L.
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