ArchCity Defenders’ clients are predominately poor and black St. Louisans who are targeted and punished by the criminal legal system of police, courts, and jails. As a result of our clients’ interactions within this system, they experience a constellation of adverse collateral consequences. Our clients have lost jobs, cars, homes, contact with their families and communities, and face barriers regaining employment, housing, and stability. Through holistic legal advocacy, ACD fights for our clients in court, helps families rebuild their lives, and identifies challenges to be made against the direct and systemic abuses of the criminal and civil legal systems.

ACD practices holistic representation, an approach developed by the Bronx Defenders. Holistic defense combines zealous advocacy with an understanding that for most poor people who come into contact with the legal system there is not just one issue at the source of their struggle. Attention needs to be given to the many underlying causes of their legal matters.

Holistic defense is most frequently identified by:

  • Seamless access to legal and nonlegal services that meet client needs
  • Advocates with an interdisciplinary skill set
  • Dynamic, interdisciplinary communication
  • A robust understanding of, and connection to, the community served