Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

James vanR. Springer to Receive Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award

Chinh Le, Legal Director

This Thursday, April 26, Legal Aid will recognize James vanR. Springer with its highest honor, the Servant of Justice Award. Since 2005, Jim has served as a volunteer staff attorney at Legal Aid, representing clients on a wide variety of public benefits and other matters, with a focus on helping low-income D.C. residents obtain safety net benefits and critical health care services. He joined Legal Aid’s staff following his retirement from the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP, where he was a prominent partner in the firm’s general litigation practice for more than three decades.

Jim Springer, Volunteer Staff Attorney

Jim attended Harvard College and received his LL.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he served as President of the Harvard Law Review. He began his legal career in 1961 as a law clerk to Chief Judge J. Edward Lumbard on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before joining Covington & Burling LLP. In 1967, Jim entered government service as Assistant Legal Adviser for Economic Affairs at the United States Department of State before becoming a Deputy Solicitor General at the United States Department of Justice in 1968. 

Over the next four years, Jim presented ten oral arguments in the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1972, he joined the law firm now known as Dickstein Shapiro LLP as a partner. At Dickstein, Jim was a prominent litigator and antitrust lawyer with particular emphasis on appellate practice. Shortly after his retirement in 2004, Jim offered his services to Legal Aid. 

Although his experience and expertise was in complex and appellate litigation, Jim simply asked us where his services were needed most. When we told him that our greatest need was in initial applicant interviews and public benefits, he offered to join Legal Aid as a volunteer public benefits staff attorney. Jim has since become very much part of the Legal Aid family, helping to set priorities, participating in staff meetings, and drawing on a distinguished legal career to provide expert advice and guidance to more junior Legal Aid attorneys. Through his time at Legal Aid, Jim has helped countless numbers of low-income people navigate the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration and ensured that people who are elderly or live with disabilities are in the right Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. In fact, Jim has taken on a leadership role in Legal Aid’s Medicare Part D work by supervising pro bono and staff attorneys at clinics that Legal Aid runs throughout the city to reach as many clients as possible.

In 2007, for his extraordinary work at Legal Aid, Jim was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by the District of Columbia Bar. This year, we are proud to recognize Jim’s tremendous contributions with the Servant of Justice Award. 

Please consider joining us for our Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, this Thursday at 6.30 pm, at the JW Marriott Hotel. Attorney General Eric Holder will be the keynote speaker. In addition to Jim Springer, we will also be honoring Susan M. Hoffman with the Servant of Justice Award, and as we mentioned yesterday, Jonathan G. Lin will receive the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence. A blog entry on Susie will run tomorrow.

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