Through the Atlas Learning Project, an effort of The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Center for Evaluation Innovation commissioned various researchers to probe into questions about advocacy work and how funders support these efforts. The Atlantic Philanthropies have been long-time supporters of legal advocacy and wanted to draw out lessons related to the way legal advocacy works and how funders can best support these efforts.
This paper examines the role of legal advocacy as a tool in the social sector for advancing issues of justice and equality in the United States. The primary audience for this paper is advocacy organizations – mainly those which are not yet involved in legal advocacy but which are open to considering using legal strategies or want to better understand how to work with legal advocates. Advocacy organizations that already use legal advocacy as a strategy may find some of the framing and insights helpful as well. This paper is one in a series that includes others addressing how funders can support legal advocacy and how to evaluate legal advocacy as well as a more technical paper focused on the status of the U.S. court system for addressing issues of social justice.