Clustered Injustice and the level green (Luke Clements, Legal Action Group, 2020, ebook/paperback, £20)
In some ways, it is ironic that this book is published by the (wonderful) Legal Action Group, because one reading of its 124 pages of densely argued and righteously furious central text is that many of LAG’s most dedicated readers could be seen as part of the problem for peoples whose lives are disadvantaged. By working within a legal system that focuses on legal problems as divisible, personal issues, and by mounting judicial reviews against specific decisions, or discrimination actions against particular policies, lawyers could be seen as reinforcing the fundamental clustered injustices that the system as a whole inflicts upon individuals whose lives are disadvantaged.
Indeed, Luke Clements, the Cerebra Professor of Law & Social Justice at Leeds University and a solicitor himself, in his concluding chapter expressly makes a strong case (in the context of creating the sort of problem-solving organisational cultures he sees as necessary) for less “heavy lifting” to be done by lawyers – and more by social care professionals, at least within administrative systems that are non-managerialist. That the final substantive chapter does seek to offer solutions is welcome, as the tenor of the first 6 are so unremittingly (and groundedly) grim in their delineation of the problem that it is difficult to see any possible light at the end of the tunnel.
It is very much to LAG’s credit that they should be publishing this book, which serves as so important a reminder that legal action (two of the three words within the publisher’s very title) is not, and should not just be, limited to taking action within the law as it stands, but also taking action about the law. And to do that requires precisely the sort of detailed, careful, and empirical analysis of and challenge to the wider system within the law sits that this book offers.
[Full disclosure, I was provided with a copy of this book by the publishers. I am always happy to review books in the field of mental capacity and mental health law (broadly defined).]