LSC UPDATES | JANUARY 2020

LSC PRESIDENT JIM SANDMAN STEPPING DOWN

After nine years at LSC, Jim Sandman announced on January 21 that he will be stepping down as President and moving on to the next phase of his career. He is LSC’s longest-serving president. On Tuesday, he sent a message to Executive Directors of LSC's grantees explaining his decision.

"I believe LSC is in great shape," he wrote. "We have a strong board of directors, led by John Levi and Father Pius, that is united in its commitment to our mission. We have an outstanding and very experienced team at LSC that works well together. We just received our largest appropriation ever and have seen a $55 million increase in our funding over the last three years, notwithstanding proposals to eliminate us. We have broad bipartisan support in Congress. And we have a terrific network of innovative, entrepreneurial, and dedicated grantees working tirelessly and effectively to improve access to justice."

February 19 will be his last day LSC. The LSC Board intends to appoint Ronald S. Flagg, LSC's current Vice President for Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, as interim President and to conduct a national search for LSC's next President. 
Read more

LSC RECEIVES $25 MILLION FUNDING BOOST

On December 20, President Trump signed into law appropriations legislation that includes $440 million for LSC in 2020. This is an increase of $25 million over LSC’s appropriation of $415 million last year and is the largest appropriation in actual dollars in LSC’s history. The majority of the increase—$22.2 million—is allocated for Basic Field Grants to fund the direct delivery of legal assistance.

“We are very grateful to Congress for increasing our appropriation to $440 million, the highest amount in LSC's 45-year history,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This action reflects broad bipartisan support for LSC's mission of promoting the most fundamental of American values: equal justice under law."

LSC AWARDS MORE THAN $14 MILLION IN DISASTER AID GRANTS

In December, LSC announced it was awarding 12 disaster relief grants to legal aid organizations in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Micronesia, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. LSC received $15 million in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019, intended to provide supplemental disaster funds to address damage caused by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters. 

The grants fund projects that marshal additional legal aid lawyers to assist disaster providers, mobilize pro bono attorneys, and integrate legal aid into other disaster services. The funded projects are:

ALASKA
Alaska Legal Services Corporation ($279,252) 

ARKANSAS
Center for Arkansas Legal Services ($500,000)

CALIFORNIA 
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County ($450,000)

FLORIDA
Legal Services of North Florida ($3,000,000)

IOWA
Iowa Legal Aid ($1,000,000)

MICRONESIA 
Micronesian Legal Services, Inc. ($1,200,000)

NEBRASKA 
Legal Aid of Nebraska ($1,250,000)

NORTH CAROLINA 
Legal Aid of North Carolina ($4,836,024)

OHIO 
Legal Aid of Western Ohio ($350,000) 

OKLAHOMA
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma ($650,000)

Oklahoma Indian Legal Services ($234,724)

TEXAS
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid ($500,000)

Learn more about the funded projects and read remarks from Members of Congress on the importance of legal aid for disaster survivors. 

LSC HOLDS VETERANS DAY FORUM IN NEW YORK CITY

(L-R) Cindy Johnson, Deputy Director, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center; Dr. Jack Tsai, Research Director, National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Director, Yale Division of Mental Health Services and Treatment Outcomes Research Among Veterans; LSC Board Member Abigail Lawlis Kuzma; Dr. Marion Eakin, Mental Health Clinic Director, New York Harbor Healthcare System, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine; and Samantha Kubek, Staff Attorney, LegalHealth Division, New York Legal Assistance Group.

LSC hosted a Veterans Day Forum on November 11 at New York University School of Law highlighting how legal aid can remove barriers to veterans’ well-being and financial stability. Currently, nearly 1.8 million veterans are eligible for LSC-funded legal services.

New York University Law Dean Trevor Morrison delivered opening remarks. He was joined by Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), who said that a country's greatness lies not in its military might, but in how in it treats those lost and left behind. ABA President Judy Perry Martinez and Abdiel Joseph, General Managing Partner and Financial Advisor for the Promenade Group, also provided remarks. LSC Board Chair John G. Levi announced the launch of a national taskforce devoted to the legal needs of veterans. 

The first panel, “How Corporate Counsel and Civil Legal Services Organizations' Pro Bono Projects Serve Veterans,” explored the ways pro bono efforts can ensure that veterans receive the legal help they need. The panelists included Nicole M. Perez, Managing Attorney, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles; Lisa Rafferty, Vice President, Legal Affairs, Fox Television Stations, LLC; Dao Sun, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Services New York City; and Peter Beshar, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Marsh & McLennan Companies. LSC President Jim Sandman moderated the discussion.

The next panel, “Medical Legal Partnerships Operating in Veterans Affairs' Medical Centers” focused on how attorneys embedded in healthcare facilities can address and prevent civil legal problems that affect veterans’ health. The panelists included Dr. Marion Eakin, Mental Health Clinic Director, New York Harbor Healthcare System, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine; Cindy Johnson, Deputy Director, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center; Samantha Kubek, Staff Attorney, LegalHealth Division, New York Legal Assistance Group; and Dr. Jack Tsai, Ph.D., Research Director, National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Director, Yale Division of Mental Health Services and Treatment Outcomes Research Among Veterans. LSC Board Member Abigail Lawlis Kuzma served as moderator.

The final panel, “Innovative Civil Legal Services Programs and Projects Serving Veterans,” highlighted new strategies for helping military families and veterans. The panelists included Nicole Massey, Veterans Attorney, Land of Lincoln Legal Aid; Maureen Siedor, Legal Director, Swords to Plowshares; and Esther Leibfarth, Staff Attorney, Lawyers Serving Warriors, National Veterans Legal Services Program. LSC’s Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Ronald Flagg moderated the discussion.

Watch Veterans Day Forum videos

REP. PAYNE JOINS LEADERS FROM LEGAL AID AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COMMUNITIES FOR LSC DISASTER TASK FORCE EVENT

Disaster Task Force Co-Chair Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the State of New York, explains the Disaster Task Force's findings. 

LSC's Disaster Task Force held an event marking the release of its report on November 12 at the New York City Emergency Management Department in Brooklyn. The report offers recommendations on how legal services providers can collaborate with outside partners to help vulnerable communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, spoke at the event. He was joined by LSC Board Chair John G. Levi and NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell. Disaster Task Force Co-Chairs Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of New York and currently of counsel for Latham & Watkins LLP, and LSC Vice Chair Father Pius Pietrzyk also spoke. They were joined by Robert Malionek, a partner at Latham & Watkins. Latham served as pro bono counsel to the task force and provided financial support.

Daniel Aldrich, professor of political science and Director of the Security and Resilience Studies Program at Northeastern University, presented “Why Social Infrastructure Is Critical in Crisis.” Professor Aldrich is a nationally recognized expert on disaster and resilience. He has published five books and more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and appears frequently on popular media outlets.

Following Professor Aldrich’s presentation, experts from the legal services and emergency management communities took part in a panel discussion on the importance of relationship-building in disaster response. The panelists included Joe Bruno, Former Commissioner, NYC Emergency Management; Greg Forrester, President & CEO, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster; Colonel Brian Hastings, Director, Alabama Emergency Management Agency; Leslie Powell-Boudreaux, Executive Director, Legal Services of North Florida; Pamela Roychaudhury, Managing Attorney, Legal Aid of Western Missouri; and Mark Sloan, Coordinator, Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Harris County, Texas.

Learn more about the Disaster Task Force
Watch videos from the forum

LSC PRESIDENT JIM SANDMAN FEATURED ON BOB AMBROGI'S PODCAST

In December, LSC President Jim Sandman joined lawyer and legal tech expert Bob Ambrogi on an episode of LawNext. They discussed the justice gap that exists in the U.S. and different approaches for bridging it, including the role of technology. 

Check out the episode now. 
Listen now

LSC BOARD CHAIR JOHN G. LEVI HIGHLIGHTS LSC'S ROLE IN PROMOTING LEGAL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION

In an op-ed written in advance of LSC's recent technology conference, LSC Board Chair John G. Levi highlights LSC's continuing role in fostering advances in legal technology that allow more Americans to receive help for their essential civil legal needs.

"Over the years, this wide-ranging conference has proven to be a productive opportunity for leaders in legal technology to share their ideas with each other and with the legal aid community," Levi writes. "It is, however, just a part of LSC’s commitment to promoting innovation in legal technology."

He points particularly to LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants program, which has helped drive innovation in legal technology. It has supported more than 755 projects totaling nearly $69 million.
Read the op-ed

For more coverage on the Innovations in Technology Conference, stay tuned for the next issue of LSC's Tech Download.

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