Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, who serves on the board of directors for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), was selected as co-chair of an LSC task force to develop additional resources to help low-income Americans facing serious civil legal problems.

The Pro Bono Task Force, launched by the Legal Services Corporation Board of Directors, will work to help low-income Americans facing foreclosure, domestic violence and other serious civil legal problems. The new task force was announced April 5 during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on LSC’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request. Minow will serve alongside Harry J.F. Korrell III, a partner in the Seattle office of Davis Wright Tremaine.

Minow was sworn in as a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Board of Directors last year. She was nominated to serve on the board in August 2009 and confirmed by the Senate in March 2010. Said Minow in remarks (PDF) upon her induction: “Pursuing access to justice for our disadvantaged and vulnerable neighbors holds the promise of direct and immediate relief of suffering and enduring fortification of the laws that make us all free and secure…When people forfeit their rights simply due to absence of counsel, we all suffer.”

Minow reinforced the importance of pro bono work in an Apr. 4 op-ed recently, published in The Boston Globe’s Opinion Blog “The Angle.” In this article, co-authored with John Broderick (Dean and President of the University of New Hampshire School of Law), Minow and Broderick highlighted how congressional budget cuts would force programs, such as the LSC, to close their doors. “Such cuts abandon some of the most vulnerable people in our nation and in addition risk creating new burdens not only for them but also for their communities and public budgets, as an evicted person becomes homeless, an abused person lands in a hospital, and a veteran fails to re-enter the workforce and community life,” they wrote.

Minow, who is also the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law at HLS, was appointed dean in 2009, and has taught at the school since 1981. An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict.

Established by Congress in 1974, the Legal Services Corporation is the single largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor in the nation. Nearly 51 million people—including 17.6 million children—are eligible for LSC-funded services. LSC-funded programs close nearly one million cases per year nationwide and provide other legal assistance to more than five million people. The clients served are at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level threshold, an income of $27,563 a year for a family of four.

—Greg DiBella