President Barack Obama ’91 has nominated Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, along with John Levi ’72 LL.M. ’73 and Gloria Valencia-Weber ’86, to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The nominations require approval by the Senate.
Two other graduates of HLS—David Hall LL.M. ’85, S.J.D. ’88 and Thomas Meites ’69—are currently on the board, but their terms will soon expire.
“With this nomination, the President honors me with the opportunity to serve the country by ensuring vital legal assistance for millions of Americans who cannot afford it,” said Dean Minow. “I look forward to the confirmation process and the chance to consult with members of Congress about the special significance of this organization in this time of serious economic challenge.”
In June 2009, Minow was named dean of Harvard Law School, where she has taught for nearly thirty years. During her tenure, she has also served as the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law, and the Acting Director of the University’s Program on Ethics and the Professions.
Minow’s research focuses on equality, human rights, law and social change, and religion and pluralism. Her books address civil procedure, family law, and social services. She began her legal career as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge David Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, J.D. from Yale University, and Ed.M. from Harvard.
Levi has been a partner in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin, LLP for over 25 years. His practice focuses on employment litigation, executive compensation matters, and labor management relations. Levi has been involved in issues regarding juvenile justice and access of justice for many years, serving on both the Cook County Citizens’ Committee for the Juvenile courts, and the Board of the Jane Addams Juvenile Court Foundation. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Northwestern University Law School Center on Wrongful Convictions. In addition to his degrees from HLS, Levi holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester.
Valencia-Weber is a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law. She established Indian Law Certificate programs at the University of Tulsa College of Law and at the University of New Mexico, which focus on the unique political relationship between federally recognized Indian tribes and the federal government. Valencia-Weber served on the Board of the Oklahoma Indian Legal Services from 1991-92 and has been inducted into the American Law Institute for her scholarly research on Indian law. She began her legal career by clerking for Judge Lee R. West, Federal District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, and Judge William J. Holloway, Jr., then Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to her degree from HLS, she holds a B.A. and M.A. from Oklahoma State University.
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.
The corporation is headed by an 11-member, bipartisan Board of Directors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. By law, no more than six members can be of the same political party.