August 7, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division will present its 2008 Fellows Award for Public Service to Helaine M. Barnett, president of the Legal Services Corporation, on Aug. 8 during the ABA's annual meeting in New York City.
The award was created by the Young Lawyers Division in 1977 to recognize individuals for their distinguished service to the public and the legal profession. Previous recipients include Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., former senators Howell T. Heflin and Howard H. Baker Jr., Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, judges and distinguished members of the ABA.
Helaine Barnett is the first legal aid attorney to serve as president of LSC, and, now in her fifth year, is the longest serving LSC president. Under her leadership, LSC has emphasized strategies to enhance the quality of legal services provided by LSC-funded programs. LSC also issued a groundbreaking report, "Documenting the Justice Gap in America," which provides compelling evidence of the current unmet civil legal needs of low-income Americans and found that 50 percent of eligible clients seeking assistance from LSC-funded programs are turned away because of a lack of program resources.
Before joining LSC, Barnett devoted her entire 37-year professional career to providing legal services to the indigent as a lawyer with The Legal Aid Society of New York City, the oldest and largest legal aid organization in the country. For nearly three decades, she was involved in managing the Society's multi-office Civil Division, which she headed from 1994 until the end of 2003.
LSC was created in 1974 as a private, not-for-profit corporation and is totally funded by Congress. LSC's mission is to promote equal access to justice in our nation and to provide high quality civil legal assistance to low-income persons. LSC, with a budget of approximately $350 million for fiscal year 2008, funds 137 civil legal aid programs with more than 920 offices across the country.
The Young Lawyers Division is the ABA's largest entity, composed of approximately 147,000 members. It works to provide leadership in serving the public and the legal profession, and to promote excellence in the practice of law.