Remarks by LSC Board Chair John G. Levi | Senate Briefing

Washington, D.C.
May 3, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome.  I am John Levi, the 10th Chair of the Board of the Legal Services Corporation.

Thank you for attending this significant briefing on the importance of civil legal aid to American business.

I want to thank Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan for helping to make this event possible.

I also want to thank the distinguished members of our panel, corporate counsel from some of our nation’s leading companies, who will be introduced shortly by the panel’s moderator, LSC’s outstanding and longest-serving president, Jim Sandman.

LSC has convened similar briefings during the past few years in the House and at several forums we have sponsored across the country.

These events signify the importance of civil legal aid to American business.

Our panelists will discuss their own views on how our economy depends on the successful functioning of society, which requires access to justice and the protection of legal rights.

The bedrock for business, as for our democracy, is the rule of law, which is threatened when equal access to justice is not available to so many Americans.

As Donald Rumsfeld observed nearly 50 years ago while testifying before Congress as the first Republican director of the Office of Economic Opportunity: “We cannot expect respect for the rule of law if we, as public officials, do not assure access to the legal process. To fail to do so would break faith with those Americans — rich and poor alike — who have confidence in our legal institutions and the notion that disputes are better resolved in courtrooms than on street corners.”

Pepperdine School of Law Dean Deanell Reece Tacha echoed those sentiments:

“When the great majority of the individuals and small

businesses of the nation no longer can, or believe they no

longer can, get a lawyer, be represented effectively, go to

court, settle their disputes in a fair and impartial way, and be

treated like every other citizen, we quite simply, have lost the

guiding principle of our republic—equal justice under

law. When that goes, the rule of law goes, and when that goes,

the great dreams of those patriots who founded and fought for

this republic go with it—never to be reclaimed. Something must

be done!”

And that brings us to the panel being moderated by Jim Sandman, a former managing partner of the law firm Arnold & Porter and who served as general counsel for the District of Columbia Public Schools before joining LSC in 2011.