We regularly reflect on the best way to support our clients facing the negative effects of gentrification.
We primarily support local residents by offering legal advice and representation. The aim in much of our litigation is not simply to win individual cases, but to set legal precedents and change wider policy and practice.
However, we cannot overstate the importance of strong local campaigns in fighting against gentrification. Legal assistance is there to support and strengthen the campaign, not the other way around. We believe the law is one tool/tactic amongst others for campaigners. We are conscious that the law is not a favourable terrain for community campaigners/residents. Therefore, when we take on a case as part of the gentrification project, we additionally aim to:
- Give an initial presentation to residents/campaigners about the gentrification project and our experience as community lawyers in challenging redevelopment plans and other issues.
- Create an easy-to-understand report using knowledge from investigations undertaken as part of a legal case: Information surrounding legal cases is often vast, dense and features a lot of jargon. We hope that by sharing knowledge in an accessible form, we can enable the client and fellow residents/campaigners to identify key campaign issues and have information to hand to share with third parties such as the media.
- Present the findings of this report: We always aim to present the report to our client and fellow residents/campaigners in a face-to-face meeting. We do so to allow time for questions, discussions and debates which so often spark ideas for both the campaign and prospective legal challenge!
We aim to continue spreading knowledge in an easy and accessible manner to the client and wider community throughout litigation, and beyond. We hope by doing so we can help empower our client and their community.
Whilst PILC’s contribution to social justice campaigning around gentrification issues is through its litigation work, we do not evaluate that work in traditional legal terms. The value of a case is not determined solely by its outcome in the court, however essential that is, but also by the attention it can draw to wider gentrification issues and the rights of the communities we represent.
We are deeply aware of the limits of legal action. We use communications to publicise legal successes and to ensure that the social-justice issues at the heart of a case aren’t lost, particularly where we receive a negative court decision. We also publish a monthly blog through which we highlight the significance of our legal work on gentrification and spotlight issues that mainstream media doesn’t report on.