Publicly funded legal aid has undergone rapid change in this century. Developing from charity to large scale, publicly funded schemes, legal aid flourished in many western countries in the 1960s and 1970s. But, during the 1980s governments began to lose faith in publicly funded legal aid. In the 1990s major funding and eligibility cuts have occurred in Sweden, England and Wales, the USA, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. To answer the need for a better understanding of the extraordinary rise and fall of legal aid, this book brings together contributions from the leading international scholars in the field. Researchers from north America, Europe and Australia examine the origins of modern legal aid, analyse its recent rapid decline and consider its likely future. This collection of original studies does not, however, merely describe legal aids changing fortunes. The contributors also apply legal and social science perspectives to analyse and theorise about legal aid.In particular, rather than describe developments in individual societies, the contributors compare legal aid across societies to develop important insights including legal aids relationship with the legal profession, welfare states and legal families. This book will be embraced by all those interested in legal aid.