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Bridging the Divide Between Civil Legal Aid Lawyers and Public Defenders

By Hong Tran

Having worked as a civil legal services attorney and working now as a public defender teaches multiple lessons about what each side should know about the other. Public defenders need a better understanding of collateral consequences of criminal convictions, while civil advocates should appreciate the pressures that defenders experience from clients who wish to accept plea bargains in order to reduce time spent incarcerated. Clients will benefit from affirmative efforts by both civil advocates and defenders to collaborate, share information, and create easy-to-use communication channels.

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