Forum on Increasing Access to Justice at Georgetown Law CenterFamed author and lawyer John Grisham, Leaders Council Co-Chair and Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, and The Carlyle Group Co-Founder David Rubenstein were among the leaders who came together in April for LSC’s annual Forum on Increasing Access to Justice. The event took place at the Georgetown Law Center. Grisham, American Bar President Hilarie Bass, and Georgetown Law Vice Dean Jane H. Aiken spoke. In his opening remarks, LSC Board Chair John G. Levi also announced the launch of a new national LSC Opioid Task Force. Grisham spoke of a pro bono domestic violence case he worked on early in his career as an attorney in Mississippi. “That case showed me how vulnerable people can be without the proper legal representation,” he said. Grisham added that he was exposed to the harsh realities his low-income clients experienced, and that continues to drive him to support and advocate for civil legal aid today.
After Grisham’s remarks, the forum’s first panel, “Natural Disasters, Legal Aid, and the Justice System,” focused on legal aid’s importance to disaster relief. Panelists included Saundra J. Brown, Directing Attorney of Disaster Legal Services, Lone Star Legal Aid; Jorge Labarga, Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court; Robert K. Schaffer, Judge, Texas 152nd Civil District Court; Laura Tuggle, Executive Director, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services; and Laurie D. Zelon, Justice, California Court of Appeal, Second District. Former Chief Judge of New York Jonathan Lippman moderated the discussion.
In the second panel, “Online Innovations to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century Legal Aid Client,” Ilenia Sanchez- Bryson, Chief Information Officer of Greater Miami Legal Services, and Angela Tripp, Director of Michigan Legal Help and Technology Grants Manager of Michigan Advocacy Program, explored how technology is expanding access to justice for low-income Americans. LSC President James J. Sandman moderated the panel. Participants in the third panel, “Access to Justice and the Opioid Epidemic,” discussed the numerous civil legal issues raised by the opioid crisis in areas such as family law, domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and housing. Panelists included Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Loretta Rush, West Virginia Sixth Circuit Family Court Judge Patricia Keller, Managing Attorney and Director of Medical Legal Partnerships at Indiana Legal Services Jay Chaudhary, and Development Director of Ohio State Legal Services Association Stephanie W. Harris. LSC Vice President for Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary Ronald S. Flagg served as moderator.
JANUARYBusiness leaders, distinguished jurists, and members of the legal community gathered in Nashville in January to discuss ways to expand access to justice for low-income Americans. Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivens of the Tennessee Supreme Court and LSC Board Chair John G. Levi delivered opening remarks at the forum, held in conjunction with the LSC Board’s quarterly meeting. Two panel discussions followed, focusing on ways of increasing the availability of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans and the challenges of expanding access to justice nationwide. Dean Chris Guthrie, Vanderbilt University Law School, joined Dean William C. Koch Jr., Nashville School of Law and a former justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, to offer additional remarks.
The first panel, “The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary,” featured Judge Melissa Blackburn, Davidson County General Sessions Court; Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Tennessee Supreme Court; Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee; and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. LSC President James J. Sandman moderated the discussion.
The second panel, “The Role of Corporate Counsel in Expanding Access to Justice,” included Andrew C. Branham, Executive Director of Business Development in the Memphis office of Counsel on Call; Justin Pitt, Senior Vice President and Chief Litigation Counsel, Community Health Systems, Inc.; and Sharon R. Ryan, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, International Paper Company. LSC Vice Chair Martha Minow and former dean of Harvard Law School moderated the panel. During the discussion, International Paper Company Vice President Ryan stressed that her company recognizes the vital role it can play to bring people out of poverty through pro bono work. Ryan also added that the reason businesses should care about the legal issues impacting their community is not only because it ultimately affects them from a business perspective but also because “it’s the right thing to do.” Closing remarks were delivered by Ann Pruitt, Executive Director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services.
JULYIdaho Chief Justice Roger S. Burdick and representatives from various enterprises convened in July to discuss the opportunities available within their communities to expand access to justice for low-income Americans. Chief Justice Burdock delivered opening remarks. He was also joined by Concordia University School of Law Dean Elena B. Langan, LSC Board Chair John G. Levi, and James D. Ruchti, President of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association. Introducing the first panel discussion, Lora Rainey Breen, a member of Idaho Legal Aid Services’ Board of Directors, described the multifaceted civil issues that strain low-income servicemen and women. Breen said many issues arise for low-income servicemen and women who return from deployment, including post-traumatic stress disorder, divorce, lack of career opportunities, and insufficient financial means. These issues often have legal components. The panelists also included Idaho Army National Guard, Judge Advocate General’s Corps; Jim Cook, Executive Director, Idaho Legal Aid Services; and Major Stephen A. Stokes, Attorney Advisor to the Adjutant General, Idaho Army National Guard. LSC President James J. Sandman moderated.
The second panel, “The Role of Corporate Counsel in Expanding Access to Justice,” featured corporate counsel from leading American companies who discussed how legal aid can promote pro bono efforts and how an effective, more accessible justice system can benefit the business community. The panelists were David A. Heiner, Strategic Policy Advisor, Microsoft Corporation; Joel L. Poppen, Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Micron Technology, Inc.; Salle Yoo, former Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, Uber Technologies, Inc.; and David A. Zapolsky, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Amazon.com, Inc. LSC Board Member Robert J. Grey, Jr. served as a moderator for this final panel.
OCTOBERLegal aid providers, health care experts, and leaders of the legal community gathered in Indianapolis in October to discuss ways of reducing the justice gap for low-income Americans. LSC Board Chair John G. Levi delivered opening remarks. The first panel, “Holistic Approaches to Serving Legal Aid Clients,” included speakers from a variety of service settings discussing how best to meet client needs. The panelists were Carla James, Director of Financial Foundations, John Boner Neighborhood Centers; Cheryl Koch-Martinez, Consumer Advocacy Project Director, Indiana Legal Services; Nick Parker, Staff Attorney, Indiana Legal Services; and Peter Zubler, Director of Operations, Community, and Intake, Tangram. LSC President James J. Sandman moderated the panel. “Working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the number one challenge is identifying what we can help with and what we have to refer out for assistance else- where,” said Parker on the Indiana Legal Services’ referral process that identifies and highlights legal issues. This process helps providers bridge gaps for those with disabilities and assure that these individuals are being offered holistic services.
The second panel, “Access to Justice and the Opioid Epidemic,” examined the role of legal aid in confronting the opioid crisis. The panelists were Jay Chaudhary, Managing Attorney and Director of Medical Legal Partnerships, Indiana Legal Services; Brandon George, Executive Director, Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition; Dr. Ashley M. Overley, Chief Executive Officer, Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health; and Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush, Indiana Supreme Court and Co-Chair, National Judicial Opioid Task Force. LSC Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Ronald S. Flagg served as moderator.