A very good question! NCLC certainly does not have an endowment account flush with cash to expend on litigation. Nor do we have a multitude of minions to throw into a case. What we do have to offer, however, are a unique set of resources that we believe can play a critical role in the delivery of legal services to low income and elderly consumers.
First, and foremost, is the Center's reputation as the leading national expert on legal and policy issues concerning low-income consumers. For thirty years, NCLC has earned respect for its dedicated, informed and well-researched advocacy on behalf of its constituents. The professional integrity of the organization, which NCLC has never compromised while it passionately pursues its goals, consistently has been recognized by the courts. NCLC will not become involved in a case unless the consumer issues presented are material, significant and meritorious. Therefore, NCLC's participation in a consumer case will impact upon the way the action is perceived by adversaries, the court and the public.
Second, NCLC's on-going review of consumer laws, policies and cases for its publications and treatises provides efficient access to some of the most valuable research available in the field. The most up to date consumer law developments are tracked and analyzed. Successful pleadings, motions, arguments and settlements in consumer cases from across the country are collected for easy reference and use. The best legal experts in the practice, those that know the most recent trends and theories, already are on our staff. The economies of saved researched time and effort are extremely valuable.
Third, NCLC's work always has been national in scope. It is commonplace for Center staff to be engaged in projects with public agencies, community advocates, public interest organizations, private lawyers as well as legal services offices from across the country. Our broad consumer practice has afforded us a special cache between, and among, widely disparate groups that ordinarily would not be natural allies. Yet, NCLC has sufficient credibility and trust among all of these potential partners to be able to create coalitions that are stronger, and more effective, than any individual effort could be. Consumer law reform efforts usually result in vigorous, focused, well-financed industry deterrent responses. In order to meet this challenge, and to share the cutting edge risks and expenses that often must be undertaken to achieve true, meaningful systemic change on behalf of consumers, we must be able to work together.
Finally, we simply must increase the number of private attorneys who handle consumer cases on behalf of individual low income and elderly clients in order to supplement the already taxed resources of legal services offices. NCLC hopes to attract interested lawyers to a consumer-oriented practice by providing opportunities for training and experience through co-counseling arrangements. NCLC will set the example for ethical, principled consumer law practices and will encourage broader participation in such efforts by directly joining the litigation battle in partnership with new recruits as well as seasoned veterans.