Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 19

FEATURE
LSC's RON FLAGG
Leadership Tested in Crisis
By John Murph
W
hen Ronald S. Flagg assumed his role as
president of the Legal Services Corporation
(LSC) in February 2020, the organization
was preparing to launch some very
ambitious internal and external initiatives. Those
aspirations included implementing new internal
accounting and management systems; developing
a new diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan;
establishing a Veterans Task Force; and publishing
a new congressionally directed study, " The Effect of
State & Local Laws on Evictions. " What was not on
Flagg's agenda that month was the coronavirus.
As the pandemic dominated news cycles worldwide, Flagg and the LSC
- the country's largest single funder of civil legal aid for low-income
Americans - had to adjust to the new realities and demands. Its biggest
challenge: how to financially support more than 100 legal aid organizations
serving a growing number of clients facing devastating consequences
caused by the pandemic.
" Many more people were thrust into poverty as a result of losing their
jobs, " Flagg says. " So, that meant more people were eligible for [legal
aid] services. All of those people face surges in things like filing unemployment
claims, eviction claims, and domestic violence claims. Our first
priority is to persuade the federal government to devote more resources
to civil legal aid in America. "
" We spend a lot of time working with our grantees to make sure they
are providing first-class and effective services to their clients and using
federal money wisely, efficiently, and innovatively, " he continues.
Like the LSC itself, legal aid grantees have had to grapple with providing
services to their clients and communicating with courts remotely while
also contending with loss of revenue from state and local funders.
" Interest rates plummeted, and IOLTA [Interest on Lawyer Trust Account]
funding went way down in 2020, " Flagg explains. " Some state and local
governments saw their revenue decline, so [a lot of grantees'] funding
Patrice Gilbert Photography
declined. At the LSC we had to help our grantees through all of those
challenges. "
FIGHTING FOR FUNDING
Certainly no one saw the crisis coming, but Flagg, a lifelong advocate for
social justice, proved ready and capable to steer the LSC through a year
unlike any other. Flagg's long history of leadership and commitment to
civil rights and equal justice has primed him for this critical moment.
Before succeeding James Sandman as president of the LSC, Flagg served
as its vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, a position he
took in 2013. Prior to joining the LSC, Flagg worked at Sidley Austin LLP
as a commercial and administrative litigator for 31 years, 27 of them as
partner, and chaired the firm's Committee on Pro Bono and Public
Interest Law for more than a decade. Flagg was D.C. Bar president from
2010 to 2011 and currently serves as chair of the D.C. Bar's Pro Bono Task
Force.
Public service was hardwired into his brain at any early age, Flagg says.
" My parents were both refugees from Nazi Germany. So, they had a keen
sense of social justice as a result of their experiences. And they communicated
the values of social justice to their children. It certainly made a
difference. "
As a 10-year-old growing up in Milwaukee, Flagg remembers listening to
the radio when the U.S. Senate passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. After
high school, he became the first in his family to attend college. He graduated
with honors from the University of Chicago in 1975 and from
Harvard Law School (cum laude) in 1978. " I certainly went to law school
with a notion that law was a way to advance social justice and to help
people, " he says.
Flagg clerked for Judge Myron L. Gordon of the U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Wisconsin, then became an attorney-advisor at the
U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review.
Fast forward to 2020 and Flagg was leading the LSC during a pandemic,
figuring out how to ensure its 132 grantees across the country have the
resources they need to respond to a looming legal aid crisis. As soon as
the pandemic hit, Flagg says the House Appropriations Committee contacted
the LSC to assess how much additional funding was needed to
support its network of legal aid organizations. " This was early March,
even before we started our remote work, " he says. " We estimated that
we would need at least $100 million in additional funding. "
JULY/AUGUST 2021
* WASHINGTON LAWYER 19

Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Election Coverage
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
A Conversation with Chad Sarchio feature
Ready for Reentry feature
LSC's Ron Flagg feature
Leadership Academy feature
DC Bar Annual Report
DC Bar Budget
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
ABA Delegate's Corner
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Speaking of Ethics
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Election Coverage
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - A Conversation with Chad Sarchio feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 11
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 12
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 13
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Ready for Reentry feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 15
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 16
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 17
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - LSC's Ron Flagg feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 19
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 20
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 21
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Leadership Academy feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 23
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 24
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - DC Bar Annual Report
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 26
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 27
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 28
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 29
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 30
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 31
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Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 33
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 34
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 35
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 36
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - DC Bar Budget
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 39
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - ABA Delegate's Corner
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 43
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 45
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 47
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 50
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 52
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 53
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 55
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover4
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