One year after its president stepped down, the Legal Services Corp. has found her successor. LSC has tapped former Arnold & Porter managing partner James Sandman as its new president. Since 2007, Sandman has served general counsel and chief legal officer for D.C. Public Schools.
Sandman’s hire comes one year after former LSC President Helaine Barnett retired at the end of 2009. Victor Fortuno, the LSC general counsel, has served as interim president since Jan. 1, 2010.
LSC is a nonprofit organization set up by Congress that distributes grants to legal service providers who represent low-income clients across the country. With an annual appropriation of approximately $420 million, LSC funds 136 legal aid programs in 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Guam, Micronesia and the Virgin Islands.
The president acts as LSC’s chief executive officer, managing its day-to-day affairs and approving all grants.
Presidents of the LSC are appointed by the 11-member board of directors, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. There is no term limit for LSC presidents.
As The National Law Journal reported in September, the board hired Heidrick & Struggles, a search firm, to find candidates for the position. At the time, John Levi, a Chicago-based Sidley Austin partner who chairs the LSC's board, said he thought that there was a "renewed spotlight" on the position of president of the LSC, given the increased demand for legal services at a time when many providers are seeing tightened budgets.
"We're looking for a lawyer who has first-rate management skills. But we're also looking for someone who understands the needs that are out there and isn't afraid of them," Levi said.
Sandman (Boston College, U. Penn. Law) has a long history of serving in leadership positions, particularly those with a focus on public service. He served as Arnold & Porter’s managing partner from 1995 until 2005.
He served as president of the D.C. Bar from 2006 to 2007 and on the bar’s board of governors from 2003 to 2008. He is the vice chair of the bar’s Pro Bono Committee and a former chair of the Bar’s Pro Bono Initiative Working Group.
From 2000 to 2005, Sandman served on the board of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, an LSC grantee.
He is the co-chair of the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services and is a member of the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee.
He has also held leadership positions on the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s District of Columbia State Advisory Committee, International Senior Lawyers Project, and the Meyer Foundation. (Also, his wife, Beth Mullin, is the executive director of Friends of Rock Creek’s Environment, a nonprofit organization working to protect Rock Creek.)
LSC’s annual meeting will be held later this month, at which time Sandman will officially take the reins of the organization.
In prepared statements, several LSC board members showered praise upon Sandman and wished him well in his new role.
Levi said, “After conducting a nationwide search and following interviews with a number of superbly qualified candidates, the board decided that Jim Sandman was our outstanding choice to lead LSC. Jim is a very distinguished attorney admired by his colleagues for his service to the community and to the legal profession. He is an extraordinary leader and we are thrilled and excited that Jim is joining us as the corporation’s chief executive.”
Martha Minow, dean of Harvard University’s law school, said in a prepared statement, “The Legal Services Corporation will be in extraordinarily good hands with Jim Sandman; he brings managerial excellence, accomplished leadership of private and nonprofit organizations, and contagious devotion to ensuring access to justice for all.”