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Getting Started: Four Things Defenders Can Do to Connect with Communities

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Publication Date:

Publisher(s): Brennan Center for Justice

Author(s): Kirsten D. Levingston

Funder(s): Gideon Project (Open Society Institute); Ford Foundation

Funder(s): Gideon Project (Open Society Institute); Ford Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Community life and organization)

Keywords: Public defenders; Community-oriented defense; Community building

Type: Brief


The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law has counseled defenders seeking to become more community-oriented. This piece describes four activities that defenders commonly use in their efforts to build stronger ties with client communities: Conducting a workshop, surveying staff, letter writing, and hosting a meeting. These first few steps are cost-effective and straightforward. They do not require additional staff. Although they require time, energy, and planning, building a community-oriented program is not as daunting as some may fear.