By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, August 23, 2017, Legal Services Corporation (LSC) President James J. Sandman joined Legal Services Alabama staff for a day of events focused on civil legal issues affecting low-income Americans in Alabama and across the country.
On Wednesday morning, Sandman visited the Legal Services Alabama office in Montgomery to learn more about the organization’s work and the pressing civil legal needs of low-income Alabamians.
Legal Services Corporation former Congressman Artur Davis (D-Birmingham) said that LSA provides vital services we provide to over 11,000 low-income Alabamians every year. This increased attention to our program sheds light on the imperative of making free legal help available to veterans losing their homes, victims of abuse in need of protective orders, seniors and working people targeted by consumer scams, and a host of others in need.”
The visit was followed by a reception in the State Supreme Court Building. This event honors the pro bono work and dedication of Alabama’s legal community.
Bar President Augusta Dowd said, “At the Alabama State Bar, we fully support the mission that Legal Services Alabama strives to fulfill each day. We continue to encourage the work they do and appreciate the contributions that these lawyers make in their communities and across the State. We are glad to have LSC President James Sandman,” in Montgomery.
LSC President Sandman said that the first sentence of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Sandman says that the founders put “establish Justice” first. I think that was by design; because there is no way to “insure domestic Tranquility” without establishing Justice and there is no country worth defending unless there is justice.
LSC President Sandman said that too often the poor have not received the justice that they deserve. “The legal system was built by lawyers, for lawyers, with the assumption that everybody could afford a lawyer.” This is not the case for the over 60 million Americans who qualify for our services. If you sit in on family court in many jurisdictions, most of those families are there without an attorney. That is very complex laws and people really need representation there. In most foreclosures the people being foreclosed on are not represented by an attorney; however most landlords are represented by attorneys in foreclosures.
To qualify for LSC services an individual can make no more than about $15,000 and less than $31,000 for a family of four.
Sandman praised Alabama attorneys and their commitment to providing pro bono services to needy families. Alabama Attorneys do much more pro bono work on average than attorneys in most other states.
James J. Sandman has been the President of Legal Services Corporation since 2011. Prior to that he worked with the National law firm Arnold & Porter LLP where he worked for 30 years. For ten of those years he was the firm’s managing partner. He is a past President of the 100,000 member DC Bar Association.
Legal Services Corporation was established by Congress in 1974. LSC promotes equal access to justice by funding high-quality civil legal assistance for low-income Americans. LSC is the largest single funder of civil legal aid in the country. LSC is a grant-making organization, distributing more than 93 percent of its federal appropriation to eligible nonprofits delivering civil legal aid. LSC awards grants through a competitive process and currently funds 134 independent legal aid organizations with more than 800 offices throughout the United States and its territories. LSC’s grantees serve thousands of low-income individuals, veterans, children, families, and seniors in every congressional district.
LSC grantees handle the basic civil legal needs of low-income people, addressing matters involving safety, subsistence, and family stability. Most legal aid practices are focused on family law, including domestic violence and child support and custody, and on housing matters, including evictions and foreclosures.
Legal Services Alabama received $6,174,026 in fiscal year 2016 from LSC.