2009 Recipient Edgar and the late Jean Camper Cahn

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Where presented : 
NLADA Annual Conference
Recipient(s) name: 
Edgar and the late Jean Camper Cahn
Recipient organization: 
Time Banks
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

Prior to the development of the legislation for the War on Poverty in 1964, Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn helped to implement the work of Community Progress Inc., developing the first neighborhood-based law firm in New Haven, CT as part of that program. As part of the War on Poverty, the Cahns conceived, designed, proposed and founded the National Legal Services Corporation, which served as the blueprint for the Legal Services Program. Later, both Cahns helped shape the Legal Services Corporation as consultants to the President’s Commission on Reorganization.

In 1972, through the efforts of the Cahns, Antioch School of Law in Washington, DC, was established as the first clinical law school in the nation broadening access to legal careers and providing free legal services to thousands of District residents. As co-deans of the law school, the Cahns pioneered legal programs for poor residents of the District, and, many years later, when the school fell on hard times, the Cahns returned to Washington to play crucial roles in mobilizing the community and securing support to launch the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law as a successor to the Antioch School of Law.

In 1980, Edgar Cahn developed the strategy of co-production to empower the poor with a tax-exempt currency initially called services credits and later renamed as TimeDollars. The currency equates one hour spent helping others or building community or fighting for justice with one time dollar, which can be used to secure computers, food, or clothes for families. Today, while continuing the work of Time Banking, Edgar Cahn has embarked on a civil rights initiative to address racial disparity by proposing to shift the focus from past to future by formally giving officials a future choice between continuing with present practices that often result in racially disparate impact, with validated, less expensive and replicable alternatives.