WASHINGTON--Last August, President Obama tapped Martha Minow and John G. Levi, two lawyers with Chicago ties--and personal connections to the president and First Lady Michelle--as board members of the Legal Services Corporation. On Wednesday, they were sworn into office and Levi was elected board chair and Minow vice chair.
Read my August report here.
Minow, the dean of Harvard Law School, is the daughter of Newton Minow, the former chair of the Federal Communications Commission, who is senior counsel at Chicago's Sidley Austin. When Obama was at Harvard Law School, Minow recommended that Sidley hire him for a summer job.
Levi was the Sidley partner who actually hired Obama--and also another attorney at the firm, one Michelle Robinson. Obama met Michelle at Sidley Austin, when she was assigned to be his advisor.
LSC Board Elects Chairman, Vice Chair
Washington, DC--Six presidential appointees to the Legal Services Corporation's Board of Directors were sworn in to office this morning and at their inaugural Board meeting elected John G. Levi, a partner in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin, as Board chairman and Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School, as vice chair.
The oath of office was administered by Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy during a ceremony at The Eisenhower Executive Office Building that was attended by family members and friends of the appointees.
In addition to Levi and Minow, the new Board members are Sharon L. Browne, a principal attorney in the Pacific Legal Foundation's Individual Rights Practice group and a member of the foundation's senior management; Robert J. Grey Jr., a former president of the American Bar Association and a partner in the Richmond, Va., and Washington offices of the Hunton & Williams law firm; Charles N.W. Keckler, a professor at Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law; and Victor B. Maddox, a partner in the Louisville, Ky., law firm of Fultz Maddox Hovious & Dickens.
LSC is the single largest provider of civil legal assistance to the poor in the nation. Funded by Congress, LSC operates as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that promotes equal access to justice and provides grants for high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The grants currently go to 136 nonprofit legal services programs across the country.
In addition to Justice Kennedy, speakers at the swearing-in ceremony included LSC Board Chairman Levi, Vice Chair Minow, outgoing LSC Board Chairman Frank B. Strickland, LSC President Victor M. Fortuno, Daniel Meltzer, principal deputy White House counsel to the President, and Harold Hongju Koh, legal adviser at the State Department.
Levi, in his remarks, said, "Today, LSC funding, now over $400 million annually, is an essential part of our country's effort to provide civil legal aid for the poor, and we take our Board positions at a time when our nation's poor desperately need that aid."
Requests for help with foreclosures, unemployment benefits and consumer issues are rising at LSC programs, Levi said. But "even as the need for LSC services increases, the funding resources necessary to make it happen are dwindling," he said, adding that "we will need to find ways to make our dollars go further while seeking even greater financial support."