LSC President James J. Sandman to Step Down
After more than nine years as President of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), James J. Sandman announced today that he will be stepping down from his position. He is the organization’s longest-serving president, and during his transformational tenure LSC improved the delivery of legal services to low-income Americans through innovations in pro bono and technology and new and better uses of data. His tireless public advocacy for LSC and its mission and his push for increased outreach to Congress helped expand and strengthen bipartisan support for LSC on Capitol Hill and raised awareness of the organization across the country. Under Sandman’s tenure, the annual congressional appropriation to LSC was increased to $440 million —the largest appropriation in LSC’s history.
“I have had nine wonderful years in a great job,” Sandman said, “and I think this is a good time for a transition, both for LSC and for me. LSC is in excellent shape. We have a strong board of directors that is united in its commitment to our mission. We havean outstanding management team that works well together. We have broad, bipartisan support in Congress and have seen a $55 million increase in our funding over the last three years. And we have a terrific network of innovative, entrepreneurial, and creative grantees working tirelessly and effectively to improve access to justice. For me, it’s time to move on to the next phase of my career. I’d like to teach. And I plan to continue to promote access to justice in new ways.”
Sandman’s departure will be effective February 19. The Board intends to appoint Ronald S. Flagg, LSC's current Vice President for Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, as interim President. Flagg was previously Partner in the Washington,D.C. office of Sidley Austin LLP for more than twenty-five years. For more than a decade, he chaired the firm’s Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest Law. Flagg served as President of the District of Columbia Bar in 2010-2011 and currently serves as Chair of the Bar’s Pro Bono Task Force. He presently is also Board Chair of the National Veterans Legal Services Program. LSC will put together a Search Committee made up of LSC Board Members and external stakeholders. The committee will identify a firm toconduct a national search for the next LSC President. In his role as LSC President, Sandman promoted LSC and its mission at a wide range of public forums. He visited 47 states and spoke often before varied audiences that included legislators, judges, community groups, and members of the business and legal communities. During Sandman’s tenure, LSC established the Office of Data Governance and Analysis to coordinate legal aid data collection and analysis. In 2017, LSC released The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans, a study of the "justice gap" in the U.S.—the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet them. The report has been widely cited in media reports onaccess to justice issues.
Sandman’s tenure also saw a significant expansion of LSC’s support for pro bono efforts. LSC convened a national Pro Bono Task Force in 2011, which produced recommendations that have had far-reaching impacts. Among them was thecreation of a Pro Bono Innovation Fund (PBIF) to support projects that develop replicable innovations in pro bono services for low-income clients. Congress approved the PBIF and appropriated $2.5 million for it in FY 2014, which has since been increased to $4.5 million. Since PBIF’s inception, LSC has awarded $23.5 million to 83 projects in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Sandman also expanded LSC’s legal technology efforts. During his tenure, LSC convened asummit of leaders to explore how bestto use technology to improve access to justice for low-income Americans. LSC released a report of the summit’s recommendations in 2013, providing a detailed blueprint for using technology to meet a compelling goal: providing all Americans with some form of effective assistance with their essential civil legal needs. This was adopted as an aspirational goal by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators in 2015. Congressional support of LSC’s grants Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program also grew under Sandman’s leadership. These grants fund technology projects that provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance and information for low-income Americans.