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The time has come for lawyers to take a major interest in social welfare, and for the welfare profession to concern itself with the rapidly growing relevance of law. Although welfare has always existed within a structure of law, until recently there has been little recognition or study of the basic legal issues underlying decisions affecting recipients of public assistance and other welfare beneficiaries. These issues will lie quiet no longer; they urgently demand our attention. The New Deal undertook a far-reaching experiment in social welfare, with the rapid enactment of new legislation in the fields of social security, unemployment compensation, public housing, and other forms of public aid. Since that time the experiment has been accepted as a fundamental and permanent aspect of our society. But although thirty years have passed, and a vast amount of experience has accumulated, there has been little in the way of critical examination of the legal issues in these welfare statutes - least of all by those who support the general principles of social welfare, and least of all with respect to issues concerning the substantive and procedural rights of individual beneficiaries. It is not surprising, then, that the legal status of these individuals' rights requires critical reexamination.
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