2017 Annual Report Outreach and Support

Outreach and Support

Georgetown Forum

Washington, DC  •  April

Members of Congress, business leaders, distinguished jurists, and members of the legal aid community convened at Georgetown University Law Center on April 25 for the Forum on Increasing Access to Justice. Remarks were delivered by Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-6), Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), LSC Board Chair John Levi, Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor, and ABA President Linda Klein. During his remarks, Rep. Emmer stressed that supporting LSC and access to justice is a nonpartisan issue and spoke to the import-ant work undertaken by LSC’s grantees. Rep. Kennedy explained how LSC and our grantees change lives in every corner of the country every day and praised the important message the panelists had shared during the Forum and the inspiration they offered.

Rep. Thomas EmmerThe forum also included three panels. The first, “The Importance of Access to the Justice to the Judiciary,” featured state supreme court chief justices from four states and a United States circuit judge discussing barriers to justice and the impact unrepresented litigants have on the justice system. Harvard Law School Dean and LSC Board Vice Chair Martha Minow moderated the panel, which included Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty, South Carolina Supreme Court; Chief Justice Nathan H. Hecht, Supreme Court of Texas; Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, Florida Supreme Court; Judge Beverly B. Martin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit; and Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, Hawaii Supreme Court.

The second panel, “Perspectives on Access to Justice from the Business Community,” included Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer of Cisco Systems; Christa D’Alimonte, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of Viacom; Sven Erik Holmes, Vice Chairman, Legal, Risk, and Regulatory of KPMG LLP; Alex Miller, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel, Global Regulatory Affairs of Visa; John F. Schultz, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Hewlett Packard Enterprise; and Brad L. Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft Corporation. Teresa Wynn Roseborough, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary at The Home Depot, moderated.

The final panel, “Addressing the Legal Needs of Low-Income Veterans Through Medical-Legal Partnerships,” highlighted LSC grantees’ work on behalf of veterans across the country. LSC President Jim Sandman moderated the discussion between Pine Tree Legal Assistance Executive Director Nan Heald and Lara Eilhardt, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of General Counsel.

Regional Forums

LSC Board Convenes Access to Justice Forums

Atlanta, Georgia  • January
Business leaders, distinguished jurists, and members of the legal aid community came together in January to discuss ways to expand access to justice for low-income Americans. Dean Steven J. Kaminshine, Georgia State University College of Law, and LSC Board Chair Levi provided opening re-marks at this event. Rep. Henry Johnson JrThey were joined by Representative Henry “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-4). The forum featured three panel discussions, each focusing on different approaches to increasing the availability of civil legal assistance. The first panel, “The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary,” featured Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Tennessee Supreme Court; Presiding Justice Jess H. Dickinson, Mississippi Supreme Court; Chief Justice P. Harris Hines, Supreme Court of Georgia; and Judge Myron H. Thompson, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. LSC Vice Chair Minow moderated the discussion. The second panel, “Innovations to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century Legal Aid Client,” featured experts in the use of technology to expand access to justice. The panelists were David Bonebrake, LSC Program Counsel; Lisa Colpoys, Illinois Legal Aid Online Executive Director; and Kristin Verrill, Director of Grants and Innovations, Atlanta Legal Aid Society. The panel was moderated by Glenn Rawdon, LSC Senior Program Counsel.  The final panel, “The Role of Corporate Counsel in Expanding Access to Justice,” featured Peter W. Carter, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Delta Air Lines, Inc.; C. Ben Garren, Jr. General Counsel, North America, The Coca-Cola Company; and Richard (Rick) M. Rufolo, Vice President, United Parcel Service (UPS), Inc. Teresa Wynn Roseborough, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of The Home Depot, served as moderator. 

Cleveland, Ohio • July
State supreme court justices, corporate general counsel, and leaders of the legal aid community gathered in Cleveland in July for a forum on ways to expand access to justice for low-income Americans. The forum featured three panels on access to justice issues.

Rev. Pius PietrzykThe first panel, “The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary,” was moderated by LSC Vice Chair Minow. Panelists included Justice Steven H. David, Indiana Supreme Court; Justice Judith L. French, Supreme Court of Ohio; Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, Illinois Supreme Court; Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court; and Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., Supreme Court of Kentucky. They discussed barriers to justice and the impact large numbers of unrepresented litigants have on the justice system.

The second panel, “Legal Aid and Public Library Partnerships to Expand Access to Justice,” focused on how public libraries can provide access to civil legal services. Panelists included Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Executive Director Colleen Cotter; LSC’s Director of the Office of Data Governance and Analysis Carlos A. Manjarrez; and Aaron Mason, Assistant Director of Outreach and Programming Services at the Cleveland Public Library. LSC President Sandman moderated.

The final panel, “Perspectives on Access to Justice from the Business Community,” featured corporate general counsel discussing why American businesses de-pend on a well-functioning justice system that is accessible to all. The panelists were Carolyn E. Cheverine, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, The Timken Company; Cathy Kilbane, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, The Sherwin-Williams Company; Terry Szmagala Jr., Senior Vice President, Public and Community Affairs and Corporate Communications, Eaton Corporation; and P. Kelly Tompkins, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Cliffs Natural Resources. LSC’s Vice President for Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary Ron Flagg served as moderator.

LSC Board Chair Levi and Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Board of Directors President Vanetta Jamison delivered opening remarks. They also spoke at lunch, along with Colleen Cotter; ABA President Linda Klein; LSC President Jim Sandman; LSC’s Director of the Office of Data Governance and Analysis Carlos Manjarrez; and LSC Board Member Rev. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P. 

Cambridge, Mass. • October
Legal educators, distinguished jurists, business leaders, and legal aid community members gathered in Cambridge, Massachusetts in October for panels and discussions regarding the expansion of access to justice for low-income Americans. Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning and Honorable S. William Green Professor of Public Law D. James Greiner joined LSC Chair Levi in delivering opening remarks for the forum. The forum featured four panels, each focusing on different approaches to increasing the availability of civil legal assistance and the challenges of expanding access to justice nationwide. The first panel “Natural Disasters, Legal Aid, and the Justice System,” featured two chief justices of states affected by recent hurricanes: Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga. Judge Jonathan Lippman, Of Counsel with Latham & Watkins LLP and former Chief Judge of New York, moderated.

Cambridge, MassChief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Shelley Spacek Miller, Senior Court Research Analyst with the National Center for State Courts; and Justice Laurie D. Zelon of the California 2nd District Court of Appeal participated in the second panel, “The Justice for All Project: An Overview.” The panelists discussed how the project supports efforts by states to understand and adopt the resolution of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators to promote meaningful access to justice for all Americans. LSC President Sandman moderated.

LSC Vice Chair Minow moderated the third panel, “Law Schools’ Work and Access to Justice,” which explored the role of law schools in expanding the availability of civil legal services. She was joined by seven law school deans: Danielle M. Conway, University of Maine School of Law; Thomas J. Miles, University of Chicago Law School; Maureen A. O’Rourke, Boston University School of Law; Daniel B. Rodriguez, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; Vincent D. Rougeau, Boston College Law School; Theodore Ruger, University of Pennsylvania Law School; and Robert K. Vischer, University of St. Thomas School of Law. Finally, Paul T. Dacier, General Counsel, Indigo Agriculture; Alex Dimitrief, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, General Electric Company; and Kathleen E. McGrath, Assistant Vice President and Senior Counsel, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company served as panelists for “The Importance of Access to Justice to American Business.” They focused on why American businesses depend on a well-functioning justice system that is accessible to all. The panel was moderated by LSC Vice President for Legal Affairs Flagg.

Private Grants

LSC's Privately Funded Initiatives Enhance Work of Grantees
LSC works to raise private funds to complement its congressional appropriation. These targeted, privately funded projects expand access to justice and enhance the work of LSC’s 133 grantees. The initiatives are all projects that would be difficult for a single grantee to undertake alone.   LSC also solicits support from the business and legal communities. In 2017, LSC Leaders Council member and Viacom Vice Chair Shari Redstone donated $100,000 and CBS another $7,500 for a new campaign to increase awareness of access to justice issues in the business community.

Justice Gap Report
JGWith support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, LSC produced an updated national report documenting the “justice gap”—the difference between the need for civil legal services and the resources available to meet them. LSC contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago to help prepare this report, which updates LSC’s 2009 Justice Gap Report with new data to compare states, urban versus rural needs, and areas of the law that impact underserved communities and populations. For more on the Justice Gap report, see page 23.

Statewide Legal Aid Website Evaluation 
A two-year Ford Foundation grant allowed LSC to assess the accessibility and usability of the statewide legal aid websites in every state and territory. LSC worked to identify best practices and offer recommendations for replicating the content and features of the websites deemed most effective.

Statewide legal aid websites provide users seeking information about civil legal matters with important tools and resources. They provide basic information about common legal issues and connect users to legal aid providers, self-help centers, and lawyer referral services in their community. Increasingly, these sites also offer automated court forms that guide self-represented litigants through creating necessary legal documents.

FFKey takeaways from the project include the need to adopt a “mobile-first approach” in redesign—website managers should consider how the site will work on mobile devices before focusing on desktop web design, because users increasingly access these sites through mobile devices. Another important finding was that many legal aid sites were too information-dense and need to streamline content to ensure users can more readily find high-quality resources.

The project report and toolkit was published and offer a practical guide to improving users’ online experience. These resources will serve as a roadmap for states as they implement the next generation of legal information website.

Other Privately Funded Initiatives

Rural Summer Legal CorpsRSLC
For the second year in a row, the Rural Summer Legal Corps partnered with Equal Justice Works to connect law students and LSC’s grantees with the goal of providing critical legal services to rural clients while engaging a new group of future lawyers with civil legal aid. Thirty fellows worked on projects to improve access to justice for rural residents, including providing direct legal services, engaging in community outreach and education, researching, and helping build the capacity of LSC grantees.

The program was made possible by the generous contributions of law firms, private foundations, and individual donors.

 

Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination Project
LSC’s Midwest Disaster Legal Coordination Project addresses challenges in providing legal services to low-income disaster survivors. Disasters have a far-reaching impact, but low-income families and individuals are the most vulnerable when disaster strikes. These individuals require preparedness planning support, and in the event of a disaster, they need experts who under-stand the legal issues involved.

The first phase ended in 2016, but LSC expanded the project, partnering with its sub-grantees from the first phase, Iowa Legal Aid and Legal Aid of Nebraska, and working to ensure that at-risk communities throughout the Midwest are better prepared when a disaster occurs and have access to relief programs. Solutions include engaging faith-based communities as key partners in connecting survivors to legal aid providers and creating an online interactive tool to explain significant changes in the National Flood Insurance Program. LSC and Legal Aid of Nebraska will also develop targeted materials to support disaster preparedness with four Native American tribes. The project is scheduled to be completed in December 2018 and is made possible thanks to the contributions of an anonymous funder in the Midwest.

Data Collection Toolkit and Data-Driven Management for Civil Legal Aid Providers
Using funding from the Public Welfare Foundation, LSC examined what case outcomes data grantees collect and use. LSC developed key recommendations for grantees and a toolkit on collecting and utilizing specific outcomes data in order to improve client services and drive resource allocation decisions.

G. Duane Vieth Leadership Development Program
Funded by the Arnold & Porter LLP Foundation, this national grant initiative supports leadership training and development for LSC’s grantee leaders. By creating a dedicated pool of funds specifically for leadership development, the program provides civil legal aid leaders with targeted support to improve their effectiveness. LSC awarded nine grants in 2017.

Planning Grant to Partner with Public Libraries
Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project plans for a curriculum to train public librarians to assist people with civil legal needs. Libraries are frequently the first stop for low-in-come people when researching their legal problems. This project’s goal was to lay the necessary groundwork to transform public libraries into hubs for accessible and useful information about civil legal matters for people who cannot afford a lawyer. The report was completed in December.\

Public Support for LSC's Mission

Press reports in January that the President’s FY2018 budget proposal would call for defunding LSC kicked off an unprecedented show of support for LSC from the legal aid community and beyond. More than 160 law school deans sent a letter to Congressional leaders in March urging continued support for LSC. The signatories represented a diverse array of law schools, including private and public institutions of all sizes. Their letter to the chairs of the U.S. House and Senate Committees on Appropriations and the Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, & Related Agencies followed an earlier letter sent by 25 Catholic law school deans to Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), opposing the elimination of LSC.

More than 150 of the nation’s largest law firms also wrote in March to OMB Director Mulvaney to urge continued funding of civil legal services to low-income Americans. The letter warned that eliminating LSC would affect the ability of corporate law firms to provide millions of hours of free legal counsel since private lawyers partner with LSC-funded legal aid organizations to provide such representation. In May, more than 30 state attorneys general penned a letter of support, explaining LSC’s vital role in ensuring veterans and military families receive important benefits, supporting survivors of domestic violence seeking safety, and assisting families facing foreclosure and victims of natural disasters.

The business community also showed broad support for LSC’s important mission. General counsel from 185 companies sent a letter in March to Congress in support of LSC. The signatories were corporate attorneys from leading companies, including American Express, General Electric, Google Inc., JP Morgan Chase & Co., Starbucks, and Walt Disney. LSC received numerous letters and statements of support from state and local bar associations and organizations including:

• American Bar Association

• Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA)

• Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

• National Legal Aid & Defender Association

• Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

LSC’s Leaders Council also worked tirelessly in 2017 to raise support for LSC and its important mission. Members of the Leaders Council—made up of high-profile and influential leaders from industries including business, law, and sports—were among the signatories to the letters of support and took part in Congressional briefings to promote LSC’s importance. Throughout the year, Council members penned op-eds, took to social media, and spoke at public events on the need to sup-port LSC. For more on the Leaders Council’s work on behalf of LSC, click here.  The media also focused on the issue, with many news outlets reporting on the impact defunding LSC would have on local communities. More than 200 articles were published in 47 states in 2017 following the defunding threat. LSC’s leadership also publicly addressed the vital work of LSC and the importance of continued funding. LSC Board Chair John Levi and Board members Victor Maddox, Father Pius Pietrzyk, O.P., and Julie Reiskin penned op-eds highlighting the threat to low-income families and to the rule of law posed by LSC’s elimination.

Leaders Council

Leaders Council Rallies Support for LSC 

The Leaders Council played an important role in promoting LSC in 2017 and in meeting challenges that arose during the year.

Following the White House’s proposal to defund LSC early in the year, the Leaders Council joined the Board and staff in rallying bipartisan support in Congress for LSC funding in the FY 2018 budget. More than 160 law school deans sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to support LSC, including several members of the Leaders Council: David Levi, Dean at Duke University School of Law; Matthew Diller, Dean at Fordham University School of Law; M. Elizabeth Magill, Dean at Stanford Law School; Tom Miles, Dean at the University of Chicago Law School; Robert Post, Dean at Yale Law School; Margaret Raymond, Dean at the University of Wisconsin Law School; William Treanor, Dean at Georgetown University Law Center; and Robert Vischer, Dean at University of the St. Thomas School of Law. Dean Vischer organized an additional letter sent by Deans of 25 Catholic law schools to the Office of Management and Budget Director op-posing LSC’s elimination. He also penned an op-ed highlighting the importance of LSC’s mission and the need for continued funding that was published in the Minnesota Star Tribune.

In April, business leaders joined a panel on “Perspectives on Access to Justice from the Business Community” during LSC’s quarterly Board of Directors’ meeting in Washington. Leaders Council member and Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary at The Home Depot, Teresa Wynn Roseborough, served as moderator. The panel also included other Leaders Council members, including Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer of Cisco Systems; Sven Erik Holmes, Vice Chairman, Legal, Risk, and Regulatory and Chief Legal Officer of KPMG LLP; Alex Miller, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel of Product Operations at Visa; and Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft.The day after the briefing, Roseborough served as a panelist in an LSC briefing in the Senate on the importance of civil legal aid to business. Joining her were two other Leaders Council members: John F. Schultz, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Max W. Laun, Vice President and General Counsel, Arconic, Inc.

LSC Leaders Council member and Viacom Vice Chair Shari Redstone was honored in April at Variety’s Power of Women event. Each year, Variety highlights five prominent women who are using their influence to bring attention to worthy causes. Redstone was an honoree this year for her work on behalf of LSC and spoke compellingly about the importance of LSC’s mission.

“The entire legal system was built upon the assumption that people would have adequate representation,” said Redstone in an interview in Variety. “When they don’t, the system fails and the laws don’t matter. That’s where Legal Services Corp. comes in.

”In June, LSC released its groundbreaking Justice Gap Report, which studied the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet them. The report found that 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans last year received inadequate or no legal help at all. The Leaders Council co-chairs, Ken Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck, and Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel and Locke Lord partner, as well as Leaders Council member Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan Head Football Coach, helped present the Justice Gap report in a congressional briefing.

Frazier and Miers appeared at numerous events to bolster LSC’s message, including another Justice Gap event in New York. Miers also spoke at an LSC luncheon in Boston about the importance of civil legal aid. 

Jim Harbaugh’s public opposition to LSC defunding resonated far and wide with articles in Politico, The Washington Post, ESPN, and more. He also invited LSC Board Chair John Levi and President Jim Sandman to serve as honorary captains of the University of Michigan football team for Legal Services Day on November 4. The event was held in conjunction with LSC’s access to justice panel the previous day.

“All Americans should care about equal access to justice and, as representatives of LSC, John Levi and Jim Sandman represent some of our country’s most important leaders in achieving this goal,” said Harbaugh. “In hosting them as honorary captains, Michigan Football proudly welcomes two of America’s best ambassadors for the ideal of access to justice for all.”

LSC's Leaders Council