Ms. Helaine M. Barnett
Having devoted a career to making “equal justice under law” more than a slogan, Helaine M. Barnett has become the national leader of America’s legal services program for the poor. In January, 2004, she was named President of the Legal Services Corporation, a federal nonprofit organization created by the Congress and governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the President of the United States. The LSC will mark its 30th anniversary this year. It supports 158 independent local legal aid programs around the nation, including Idaho.
A graduate of Barnard College and the New York University School of Law, Ms. Barnett compiled a 37-year record of providing legal services in New York City before ascending to the LSC presidency. Prior to her appointment, she was the attorney-in-charge of the Civil Division of the Legal Aid Society of New York City. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, she mobilized the nationally acclaimed 9/11 Disaster Assistance Initiative. Earlier she created the Legal Aid Society’s homeless family rights project and oversaw creation of a citywide health law unit. During her tenure, the civil division grew into a nationally recognized provider delivering high-quality civil legal assistance through a network of eight neighborhood-based offices and specialized citywide programs. Under her watch, the division earned universal respect for its legal work, innovative projects and adherence to the highest professional and ethical standards.
Ms. Barnett also is a prominent figure in the American Bar Association. She is a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and a former member of the ABA’s Board of Governors and Executive Committee – the only legal services lawyer ever to have held those positions. She is a past chair of the ABA Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and a current member of the ABA Commission on Governance. In addition, she is actively involved in efforts to preserve the independence and integrity of state judiciaries. She serves, by appointment of the Chief Judge of the State of New York, as co-chair of that state’s Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections.