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Name: Sandman, James
Current Position: President

James J. Sandman, a specialist in pro bono legal work, spent three decades with an international law firm and then became the top legal official for the District of Columbia’s school system before accepting the job to lead the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), beginning February 1, 2011. The LSC is a private, non-profit corporation established by the federal government in 1974 to help low-income individuals gain access to civil legal assistance. It distributes about $400 million in grants each year to 136 non-profit legal aid programs.

Sandman grew up in Albany, New York. His father, Edgar, was a banker and his mother, Margaret, taught deaf and hard of hearing children.
He received his higher education from Boston College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1973 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania, serving as executive editor of the law review. He finished law school in 1976.
Sandman clerked with Judge Max Rosenn of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, later describing Rosenn as “the single most important influence on my life as a lawyer.”
The bulk of his legal career was with the firm Arnold & Porter LLP, which he joined in 1977, spending 30 years there and rising to senior partner. Sandman was managing partner from 1995 to 2005, working in the firm’s Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, offices.
He specialized in toxic tort and product liability cases, and advised clients on risk and crisis management and avoidance. He handled cases in state and federal courts throughout the U.S.
In December 2007, Sandman left Arnold & Porter to become general counsel and chief legal officer for the District of Columbia Public Schools system. He held this post until being selected to run the Legal Services Corporation. Working with Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of the DC school system, he helped craft a contract with the Washington Teachers’ Union that raised salaries but limited tenure rights.
Sandman served as president of the DC Bar from 2006-2007 and on its board of governors from 2003-2008. He has been the vice chair of the Pro Bono Committee and chair of the Pro Bono Initiative Working Group.
He also has been co-chair of the DC Circuit Judicial Conference Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services and was a member of the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee.
A member of the American Bar Association, Sandman from 2007-2008 served on the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.
He has been a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s District of Columbia State Advisory Committee. He also was vice chairman of the Washington Performing Arts Society and on the boards of the International Senior Lawyers Project and the Meyer Foundation.
He served from 2000 to 2005 on the board of the D.C. Neighborhood Legal Services Program, which is an LSC grantee. He has also served on the boards of the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education, Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was chairman of the board of the Whitman-Walker Clinic in DC. He also has served on the scholarship selection committee of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.
Sandman and his wife, Beth, who is also an attorney, have a son and a daughter.
Meet the President: James J. Sandman (by Kathryn Alfisi, DC Bar)


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