Professional accountability and community control in legal services provision : a study of Community Law Centres in England
This thesis is about the organization of Community Law Centres (CLCs). They are established to provide legal services for those unable to pay for them in areas of legal practice of particular importance to those whose social and economic situations prevent them from exercising their rights. They were founded on the belief that their resources, human and material, should be managed and controlled by management committees made up of representatives of those who would use them, their "client community". This study aims to explore how this has been done. The context for this study is set out in Chapters One and Two. Chapter One explores the historical, theoretical and conceptual roots of CLCs, identifies operational dilemmas and challenges discussed in the literature, and establishes a conceptual framework and the research question. The review of the literature revealed that the principal organizational dilemmas facing CLCs might be conceputalized as "professional accountability" and "community control". These twin concepts have focused this research. Chapter Two discusses the methodological issues associated with the conduct of qualitative case study research. It establishes the research framework and approach for the field work and data analysis in this study. It also explains the basis for the selection of the four case organizations. Chapters Three to Seven report and discuss the data. Chapter Three discusses the manifest organizational features of the cases, observing their similarities and differences, and is mainly based on data from documents. Chapters Four to Seven address the organizational issues emerging from the data from interviews with organizational participants. Chapter Four focuses on the perceived roles and relationships of management committees. Chapters Five and Six are concerned with the roles and relationships of paid staff and volunteers respectively. Chapter Seven identifies specific environmental factors and examines their impact on the cases. Finally, Chapter Eight reconsiders the data in light of the conceptual framework - "professional accountability" and "community control" - and proposes a new conceptualization of organizational relationships in CLCs. It also identifies some implications of the study for practitioners and makes some suggestions for further research.