In New Orleans, LSC convenes fourth Forum on the State of Civil Legal Assistance in the United States

February 12, 2013

Justices, judges and a panel of disaster experts addressed the LSC Board of Directors on January 25 at the fourth LSC Board-sponsored Forum on The State of Civil Legal Assistance. The forum, held at the Louisiana Supreme Court building, was convened in conjunction with the board’s quarterly meeting.

Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice-Elect Bernette Joshua Johnson, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu of the Louisiana State Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit, and LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi made opening remarks.

Panelists discussing The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary were: Justice Michael Bolin, of the Alabama Supreme Court; Justice Jess H. Dickinson, of the Mississippi Supreme Court; Justice Nathan L. Hecht, of the Texas Supreme Court; Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., of the Florida First District Court of Appeal; Judge Landrieu; and Marc Theriault, General Counsel of the Kentucky Court of Justice. LSC Board Vice Chair Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School, moderated.

Watch a video of the opening remarks, and the panel of justices and judges.

The forum also featured a panel on the role of legal aid in disaster preparedness and relief. Panelists included Brad J. Kieserman, general counsel for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);  Robert Horowitz, director of the American Bar Association Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness; Martha Bergmark, founding president  and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice; Paul E. Furrh, Jr., executive director of Lone Star Legal Aid; Raun Rasmussen, executive director of Legal Services NYC; Marta Schnabel, President of the Louisiana Civil Justice Center and O’Bryon & Schnabel shareholder; and Ranie T. Thompson, managing attorney for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.  LSC President Jim Sandman moderated.

Watch a video of the disaster preparedness and relief panel.

The forum was the fourth such event convened by LSC in the last year.  LSC's board convened this and previous forums - at the White House, at the University of Michigan Law School, and at Duke University School of Law - to address a growing crisis in civil legal assistance.

At a reception following the forum, LSC’s Board of Directors recognized five Louisianans and a Lafayette firm with its Pro Bono Service Award. Anu Kakonen, Winfield E. Little, Jr., Robert Owsley, Judge Melvin A. Shortess (retired), Mark Surprenant, and Laborde & Neuner received awards.

Read more about the award winners.

See photographs taken at the Pro Bono Awards event.