Washington, DC— John G. Levi, Chairman of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), today announced the addition of five new members to the Board’s Pro Bono Task Force, which is working hard to identify best practices and innovations to enhance the involvement of private, volunteer lawyers in civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
The new Task Force members are Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Deborah Leff, Deputy Counselor for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice; Larry S. McDevitt, Chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service; Linda K. Rexer, Executive Director of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, and Angela C. Vigil, Partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP and the firm’s Director of Pro Bono and Community Service for North America.
“We thank Judge Wood, Deborah Leff, Larry McDevitt, Linda Rexer and Angela Vigil for sharing their expertise and time with the Pro Bono Task Force. They will strengthen our relationships with the judiciary, the American Bar Association, and bar foundations, as well as permit us to draw on their experiences in expanding access to justice,” Chairman Levi said.
The Pro Bono Task Force is led by Martha Minow, Vice Chair of the LSC Board and Dean of the Harvard Law School, and Harry Korrell III, a member of the LSC Board and a Partner in the Seattle office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.
Judge Wood is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where she also was an Associate Dean and was named to the Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professorship in International Legal Studies. From 1993 until she was appointed to the Seventh Circuit in 1995, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Judge Wood is on the Council of the American Law Institute.
As Deputy Counselor for Access to Justice, Ms. Leff helps lead a Justice Department initiative to improve the availability and quality of indigent defense and enhance civil legal representation for middle- and low-income Americans. She is a past president of the Public Welfare Foundation, which is dedicated to ensuring fundamental rights and opportunities for people in need, and a former director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Mark B. Childress, Senior Counselor for Access to Justice at the Justice Department is also a member of the Pro Bono Task Force.
Mr. McDevitt is a longtime leader in the North Carolina Bar Association, where he served as president, and in the American Bar Association, where he recently completed a term on the ABA Board of Governors. He helped found a regional legal services program in North Carolina, has served on the board of Legal Services of North Carolina, and is a past member of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. He currently serves as Chair of the North Carolina State Bar IOLTA Board. He is a member of The Van Winkle Law Firm in Asheville, N.C.
Ms. Rexer has been the Executive Director of the Michigan State Bar Foundation since 1987. She was a founding member of the State Bar’s Access to Justice Task Force in 1997 and continues to serve on its successor entity, the State Bar’s Committee on Justice Initiatives, where she is currently a member of its Pro Bono Initiative. Ms. Rexer also has served on the ABA Task Force to revise the ABA Standards for Civil Legal Services to the Poor, and she is a past president of the National Association of IOLTA Programs. Prior to joining the Bar Foundation, she was a managing attorney for a legal aid program in Michigan.
Ms. Vigil, prior to joining Baker & McKenzie, worked for the Children and Family Justice Center, Bluhm Legal Clinic of the Northwestern University School of Law as the Director of Children’s Law and Pro Bono Projects, where she led strategic litigation and advocacy on behalf of children. Ms. Vigil also worked as an attorney, director and clinical teacher at Northwestern University’s Children and Family Justice Center Community Law Clinic, where she founded, directed and managed legal intake and practice in the neighborhood branch office.
The Board’s Pro Bono Task Force convened its inaugural meeting on August 1 at Harvard Law School. The Task Force has formed working groups, which have been meeting regularly, to identify best practices for enhancing pro bono services in rural and urban areas and through technology, to examine the obstacles that hamper or discourage pro bono services, and to formulate “big ideas” for pro bono services in the context of legal aid programs.
Established in 1974, LSC, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, receives an annual appropriation from Congress to promote equal access to justice and to provide for the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families. About 95 percent of the appropriation is distributed as grants to 136 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.