As I explain, in The Atlantic (Apr. 2, 2023):
For decades, a myth about civil-rights lawyers has been spread by court decisions, legislative testimony, and popular culture. Courthouses, the story goes, are filled to the brim with plaintiffs’ attorneys desperate to make a dollar off someone else’s misery; ambulance chasers all too happy to file frivolous civil-rights cases and squeeze a few bucks out of a cash-strapped city that would otherwise spend the money on its community center or library.
In fact, the opposite is true. The cities of the Great Migration—New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia—are home to small, tight-knit communities of experienced civil-rights lawyers. Yet few practice outside those urban areas, and they are in particularly short supply in the South. As a result, many people who have suffered clear constitutional violations can’t find a lawyer to take their case. And they are unlikely to want to go it alone. Winning is hard even when you have a lawyer; you’re almost certain to lose if you don’t.