Members of Congress and FCC Chair Join Judicial, Business and Legal Aid Leaders for LSC’s Access to Justice Forum

October 14, 2020

WASHINGTON – Reps. Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Bill Foster (IL-11) and Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), along with Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai, will join the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) on Thursday, October 15, from 1 – 3:50 p.m. EDT for a virtual forum on ways of expanding access to justice for low-income Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LSC Board Chair John G. Levi will deliver welcoming remarks. Vice Chair Father Pius Pietrzyk will interview Chris Arnade, author of “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America.” Leaving behind a 20-year career on Wall Street, Arnade decided to document poverty and addiction in the Bronx and later across the country. His work looks at the resilience of what he calls “America's Back Row”—those who lack the credentials and advantages to get ahead. 

Following remarks on the importance of legal aid from Rep. Kennedy, experts from business and law will discuss how the “digital divide” results in unequal access to justice and what solutions exist for bridging this gap. The panelists include Geoffrey C. Blackwell, Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel, AMERIND; Larry Irving, President and CEO, The Irving Group; former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis, Founding Executive Director, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System; FCC Chair Pai; and Kate White, Access to Services Manager and Attorney, Legal Aid of West Virginia’s Charleston Office. LSC President Ron Flagg will moderate the panel.

Next, Reps. Dingell and Foster will offer remarks on the importance of access to justice for their constituents. Daniel E. Kimble, Director of the West Virginia Access to Justice Commission, and Dean John E. Taylor, West Virginia University College of Law, will also provide remarks.

A second panel will focus on the challenges of providing legal services during COVID-19 to individuals affected by opioid use disorder. Civil legal issues frequently arise for the more than two million Americans suffering from these disorders and for their families. These include problems related to child support and custody, child abuse and neglect, guardianship, domestic violence, housing, health benefits and employment. 

The panelists include Brandon George, Director, Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition; Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush; Lois Vance, MAT Clinic Manager, Cabin Creek Health Clinic; and Brendan Wood, Equal Justice Fellow, Legal Aid of West Virginia. Stefanie Davis, LSC’s Senior Assistant General Counsel, will serve as moderator.

LSC Board Member Frank Neuner will provide closing remarks for the forum.

The event will be livestreamed on LSC’s Facebook page.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.