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Carl Rauscher
Director of Communications and Media Relations
202.295.1615
rauscherc@lsc.gov

 

The White House and LSC Co-Host Forum on the State of Civil Legal Assistance

At a White House forum April 17 on the state of civil legal assistance, co-hosted by LSC, President Obama said that making civil legal assistance available to low-income Americans is “central to our notion of equal justice under the law,” and pledged to be a “fierce defender and advocate” for legal services.

Those remarks drew to a close two hours of spirited discussion of the state of civil legal assistance by a diverse group of national leaders.

LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi sounded the theme in his opening remarks.  Legal services programs everywhere are facing serious challenges, they are resilient, determined, and will rise to those challenges. “We simply cannot let our civil justice system collapse,” Levi said.  “Our nation has promised equal justice for all.”  

Other speakers included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh; Deputy Chief of Staff to the President Mark Childress; U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh; Justice Jess H. Dickinson of the Mississippi Supreme Court; Department of Veterans Affairs General Counsel Will A. Gunn; White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler; Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett; Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; American Bar Association President William T. Robinson; and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, who is also vice chair of the LSC board.

The forum looked at the critical role of civil legal assistance for the poor in fulfilling the promise of “justice for all,”’ and in maintaining America’s commitment to the rule of law, two nonpartisan issues that are fundamental to our way of life.  

Executive directors Anthony Young of Southern Arizona Legal Services, Phyllis Holmen of Georgia Legal Services, Alison Paul of Montana Legal Services, Colleen Cotter of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, John Whitfield of Blue Ridge Legal Services and Cesar Torres of Northwest Justice Project participated in a panel moderated by LSC President James J. Sandman.  They discussed the state of civil legal services in their service areas, and how they use partnerships with pro bono attorneys, technology, and other innovations to leverage scarce resources.  

“We are grateful to the White House and to each of our distinguished speakers for helping us to spotlight the importance of civil legal assistance for low-income Americans,” Levi said after the forum. “Even in these tough economic times, providing equal access to justice must be a priority.”

Read John Levi’s remarks

Read Eric Holder's remarks

Read Harold Koh’s remarks

Video Gallery

Photo Gallery

Op Ed by John G. Levi

A Summons to the White House
by Georgia Legal Services Executive Director Phyllis Holmen

Video Gallery (Video courtesy of the White House. For best viewing, turn "scaling" off.)

Opening Remarks by LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi
 
Remarks by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Remarks by Harold H. Koh, Legal Adviser for the U.S.
Department of State

 
Panel of Executive Directors of LSC Grantee Programs
Panel of Public Service Leaders Full Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Gallery (Photos by Jeffrey Martin Photography)


Left: John G. Levi, LSC Board Chairman.  Right: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.

Dean Martha Minow  (moderator), Harvard Law School and LSC Board Vice Chair.  Right: James J. Sandman, LSC President.
Left: Dean Martha Minow (moderator), Harvard Law School and LSC Board Vice Chair.  Right: James J. Sandman (moderator), LSC President.


White House Forum Panelists (left to right):  César Torres, Executive Director, Northwest Justice Project; Alison Paul, Executive Director, Montana Legal Services; Anthony Young, Executive Director, Southern Arizona Legal Services; James J. Sandman (moderator), LSC President; Colleen Cotter, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; John Whitfield, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Legal Services; Phyllis Holmen, Executive Director, Georgia Legal Services

César Torres, Executive Director, Northwest Justice Project and Alison Paul, Executive Director, Montana Legal Services. Right: Colleen Cotter, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Left: César Torres, Executive Director, Northwest Justice Project and Alison Paul, Executive Director, Montana Legal Services. Right: Colleen Cotter, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Left:  Anthony Young, Executive Director, Southern Arizona Legal Services; Center: John Whitfield, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Legal Services.   Right: Phyllis Holmen, Executive Director, Georgia Legal Services
Left:  Anthony Young, Executive Director, Southern Arizona Legal Services.  Center: John Whitfield, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Legal Services.  Right: Phyllis Holmen, Executive Director, Georgia Legal Services.


Left: Harold Hongju Koh,U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor. Righ: LSC Board members among audience.

White House Forum Panelists (left to right):  César Torres, Executive Director, Northwest Justice Project; Alison Paul, Executive Director, Montana Legal Services; Anthony Young, Executive Director, Southern Arizona Legal Services; James J. Sandman (moderator), LSC President; Colleen Cotter, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; John Whitfield, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Legal Services; Phyllis Holmen, Executive Director, Georgia Legal Services
White House Forum Panelists (left to right): Richard Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General; Kathryn Ruemmler,  White House Counsel;  Will A. Gunn,  General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs; Dean Martha Minow  (moderator), Harvard Law School and LSC Board Vice Chair;  Jess H. Dickinson, Justice, Mississippi Supreme Court; William T. Robinson, President, American Bar Association;  Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Mark Childress, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President


Left to right: Justice Jess H. Dickinson, Mississippi Supreme Court; William T. Robinson, President, American Bar Association; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Mark Childress, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President


Left to right: Richard Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney; Kathryn Ruemmler,  White House Counsel;  Will A. Gunn,  General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs

Left: Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President. Right: President Barack Obama.
Left: Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President. Right: President Barack Obama.

Left: President Barack Obama greets Richard Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney.  Right: President Barack Obama greets Father Pius Pietrzyk, LSC Board member.
Left: President Barack Obama greets Richard Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General.  Right: President Barack Obama greets Father Pius Pietrzyk, LSC Board member.

Audience members listen to a panel discussion.
Audience members listen to a panel discussion.