Legal Services Corp. President Jim Sandman Steps Down After Nine Years

Photo courtesy of Legal Services Corporation.

Jim Sandman announced in an e-mail this morning that he will step down as President of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), effective February 19.  Sandman is the longest-serving president in LSC’s history, serving nine years in the post.

LSC is a publicly-funded 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, created by an Act of Congress in 1974 to fund and furnish legal aid to Americans who could otherwise not afford legal services. 

“I will turn 70 next year, and I have other things I’d like to do before I retire,” Sandman said in the e-mail. “I’d like to teach. I’d like to speak, write, and advocate beyond what I’m currently able to do. I’d like to do more to improve public education in the District of Columbia. I am in good health and have plenty of energy, and I’d like to pursue these and other interests while I am able to.  I don’t know exactly what I will be doing, but I am certain that I will continue to be actively involved in, and a voice for, improving access to justice.”

In a press release, the LSC described Sandman’s tenure as “transformational,” improving the delivery of LSC services through technology and the use of data.  “His tireless public advocacy for LSC and its mission and his push for increased outreach to Congress helped expand and strengthen bipartisan support for LSC on Capitol Hill and raised awareness of the organization across the country.”  LSC released The Justice Gap: Measuring the Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans during Sandman’s tenure, a critical study illustrating the need for legal aid. Sandman also presided over an expansion of LSC’s pro bono efforts, including a Pro Bono Innovation Fund to facilitate the improvement of the delivery of pro bono services. 

The organization has faced a tumultuous history since its inception during the Nixon era.  Many, including the Trump administration, have attempted to defund or eliminate LSC, despite its bipartisan Congressional support  Despite these challenges, during Sandman’s tenure, LSC has seen a $55 million increase in its appropriation over the last three years. 

Ronald Flagg, LSC Vice President for Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, is set to be appointed interim President, while LSC will convene a search committee comprised of LSC board members and external parties. 

Sandman departs days after delivering the opening address at LSC’s Innovations in Technology conference in Portland, Ore. During the address, he outlined five requirements for technology to improve access to justice: worldwide cooperation on a strategic vision; recognition of technology’s limits; broader collaboration outside the legal world; funding; and leadership.