Every year the Sugar Law Center serves numerous clients with the help of a broad network of cooperating attorneys. The need for legal assistance on employment law and other economic justice issues far outstrips Sugar Law’s resources. Sugar Law seeks to select cases for representation where our assistance will make a significant difference for the individual client(s), and will potentially have a significant impact on the law and its enforcement for others in similar circumstances. All individuals who contact the Sugar Law Center receive some level of service, albeit in some instances it may only be information and referral, not case-level representation.
Sugar Law screens matters on a case-by-case basis. Cases under consideration for legal representation will be documented by staff on an intake form that addresses the case selection criteria set out below. In general, staff will have discretion to decline cases due to any number of reasons, including: an actual or potential conflict of interest; the likelihood that a case will demand more resources than Sugar Law can afford to provide; or based on a judgment that the case will interfere with the optimal use of Sugar Law expertise for the public good. Staff will document reasons for selecting or declining a particular matter. Sugar Law’s Legal Director is the final authority on case selection at the staff level.
In situations where staff considers a particular case selection controversial, where it may shift the strategic direction of the organization, or where it might substantially impact on Sugar Law’s resources, staff will make a recommendation to the Board of Directors; the Board or its designated Litigation Committee will make the final decision.
Factors That Will be Reviewed in Case Selection Include:
- the importance of the legal issue to working people and/or to economic justice for working people’s communities;
- the likelihood of success on the merits, and the nature of the relief possible for clients;
- the availability of staff resources, and the case’s fit with Sugar Law’s special legal expertise;
- the possibility that success will lead to greater availability of private counsel in similar cases;
- the potential impact on industry standards, patterns of practice, systemic issues, and applicable legal standards and principles (special weight is given to cases that will either create a precedent or implement an important prior ruling on behalf of working people);
- the novelty of the issues presented;
- the availability of other resources, including the private bar, to help the potential client with regards to the issues presented;
- the availability of qualified co-counsel;
- the possibility of conflicts of interest; and
- the cost of the litigation.
The Sugar Law Center encourages its co-counsel and attorneys to whom it refers cases to use all appropriate legal means to effectively and aggressively represent its clients. This includes cases of individual or group representation as well in cases where non litigation forms of advocacy are required. Representation by Sugar Law or its co-counsel must comply with all governing statutes, rules of professional responsibility, applicable regulations, and conditions of grants and contracts.