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Spring 2022 Seminar

Financial and Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households

Prerequisites: None

Exam: No Exam

The seminar will examine the opportunities and perils in consumer financial services available to low and moderate income households. We will begin with a survey of (i) sources of unsecured credit (e.g. credit cards, pay-day lenders, check-cashing services); (ii) homeownership as an asset building strategy; (iii) saving rates and policies that encourage saving. With a basic understanding of the financial services landscape, we will explore strategies for providing legal advice and assistance that may enable people to effectively access credit and to build and protect assets. We will focus on assistance for households in crises (such as foreclosure) but we will also consider transactional and preventive services to help people avoid crises. We will explore the role of the solo and small firm bar that that serves people of moderate means and on market innovations designed to expand access – for example, pre-paid and legal insurance programs, unbundled legal services, and self-help. We will pay particular attention to technology driven modes of service delivery. We will also look at legal aid in the UK, Europe and Canada where the needs of moderate income people are a main focus of legal aid policy.

In consultation with the course instructor, students will develop a research project that explores in greater depth any topic covered in class meetings. Students may work in pairs or groups and the course research project may satisfy all or part of the J.D. writing requirement.

Students are welcome to contact the course instructor via e-mail ( with questions about the course.