Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow was confirmed by the Senate last week to be appointed to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, the country’s largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor.
John G. Levi, a partner at the Sidley Austin law firm and a 1972 Law School graduate, was also confirmed during the Senate committee session. Gloria Valencia-Weber, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law and a 1986 Law School graduate, awaits confirmation.
Minow, Levi, and Valencia-Weber were all nominated by the Obama administration last August.
“President Obama has honored me with the oppotunity to serve the country by ensuring vital legal assistance for millions of Americans who cannot afford it,” Minow said in a Law School press release.
“We are all very honored and humbled to be able to serve in helping people to access the justice system,” Levi said. “[Minow] knows so much about this field. She’ll just be terrific.”
Minow’s comprehensive view of law and society will be an asset to the board, according to Stephen Barr, the corporation’s director of media relations.
The board, which changes with each presidency, is comprised of 11 members, six of which can be members of the current administration’s party. “The board strives to be a bipartisan body that works by consensus,” Barr said.
The current board members are a mix of academics and practitioners. Barr said he assumes the White House “looks at people who are interested in legal aid to the poor in drawing up the board.”
“If you’re a lawyer and you have been working in your community for a long time, then you certainly know how important access to justice is for our fellow Americans,” Levi said.
According to Levi, each nominee had to undergo a thorough vetting process by the White House and the FBI before being confirmed by the Senate. Levi said he answered the committee’s questions in writing and in discussions with Senators.
Though the board, which meets throughout the year and is expected to oversee all of the corporation’s work, requires a significant amount of time, Barr said he believes the new committment will not affect Minow’s ability to fulfill her duties at HLS.
“I will expect that the dean will be working a lot of weekends. She will lose some Saturdays to serve the public interest,” he said.
Valencia-Weber would not comment prior to her confirmation.
—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at email@example.com.