A Year-End Message to LSC-Funded Programs from Chairman John Levi and President Jim Sandman
As we near year-end, we want to take a moment to thank you for the extraordinary efforts you have made in 2016 to help make our civil justice system more accessible to our nation's most vulnerable citizens.
At this time of transition in our country, it is important to remember that access to justice is not a partisan issue that changes with a new administration. LSC was first created in 1974 with bipartisan congressional sponsorship and the support of the Nixon Administration. For more than four decades now, under presidents of both parties, Congress has appropriated funds for the purpose of ensuring that low-income Americans receive legal help. We expect that to continue and will seek to obtain, as always, the most robust funding possible.
In 2016, we took steps that will bolster that effort and help you deliver legal services more efficiently and effectively. At our White House forum in April, for example, LSC announced two significant initiatives:
- LSC is partnering with Microsoft Corporation, which has committed at least $1 million worth of support, and Pro Bono Net to develop a pilot statewide "legal portal" to direct individuals with civil legal needs to the most appropriate forms of assistance.
- LSC has formed a Leaders Council of important figures in the fields of law, business, academia, sports and other disciplines to raise awareness of LSC and its important work across the country. Former Bush White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Ken Frazier, chairman and CEO of Merck, are co-chairing the Council, which includes former attorneys general Eric Holder and Dick Thornburgh, Viacom Vice Chair Shari Redstone, and public figures such as University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh, baseball great Hank Aaron, and author John Grisham.
A couple of months later, LSC and Equal Justice Works launched our Rural Summer Legal Corps, with 30 law students working at LSC grantees in rural areas across the country. We are delighted that the private funding for this program is already sufficient to ensure that it will continue for at least four more summers.
And finally at year's end, with support from the Hewlett and Kresge foundations, LSC began work on a new national study documenting the state of the "justice gap" — the difference between the need for civil legal services and the resources available to meet that need. We expect to release a report on the study's funding in the spring.
With these and other initiatives, and with your indispensable partnership, we will continue our mission to help our nation realize its commitment to equal justice for all.
We congratulate you on all that you achieved this year, and we are counting on your remarkable commitment and resourcefulness to help us make next year even more successful.
Best wishes for a very happy holiday season and New Year.
John G. Levi
James J. Sandman