Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow

Credit: Justin Ide/Harvard University News Office

The U.S. Senate confirmed Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s appointment to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans, today. Minow was joined by five other nominees in the confirmation by Executive Session, including John Levi ’72 LL.M. ’73.

“President Obama has honored 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 am deeply grateful that the Senate has confirmed my nomination and that of five other nominees. I look forward to the chance to help bring legal tools to assist those who are especially vulnerable, including people who are hardest hit by the current economic climate.”

President Obama announced Minow and Levi’s nominations last August, and they were approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, led by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ranking Member Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.).

Gloria Valencia-Weber ’86, who was nominated to serve on the board last year with Minow and Levi, awaits her confirmation.

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.

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.