History of ABA’s SCLAID Committee

The year 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID). The best source for the committee’s history is the ABA’s website, which includes a narrative, video, timeline, and other resources. There is also an attractive short book of selected history highlights (12-page PDF). The website says:

The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense is the oldest standing committee in the ABA. Inspired by the book “Justice and the Poor,” written by Reginald Heber Smith in 1918, Charles Evans Hughes implored the American Bar Association to examine the legal needs of the poor at its 1920 convention. Using his considerable influence as a former Republican presidential nominee, former U.S. Supreme Court justice, and president of the Legal Aid Society in New York, Hughes successfully pushed for creation of the standing committee–becoming its first chair–to help the ABA address the significant issues raised by Smith’s book regarding the inaccessibility of legal services by the poor. 

Oral histories of SCLAID board and staff on this website

Click here to see a list of persons on this website who are current or former SCLAID members and staff. Many discuss SCLAID in their oral histories.

List of SCLAID Chairs 1920-2020

Chairs of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants:

1920-21 Charles Evans Hughes New York, NY

1921-38 Reginald Heber Smith Boston, MA

1938-39 John S. Bradway Durham, NC

1939-48 Harrison Tweed New York, NY

1948-53 Orison S. Marden New York, NY

1953-55 William H. Avery Jr. Chicago, IL

1955-58 William T. Gossett Dearborn, MI

1958-59 Richard Bentley Chicago, IL

1959-60 Edward W. Kuhn Memphis, TN

1960-66 John W. Cummiskey Grand Rapids, MI

1966-72 John D. Robb Albuquerque, NM

1972-73 William R. Klaus Philadelphia, PA

1973-76 F. Wm. McCalpin St Louis, MO

1976-78 Llewelyn G. Pritchard Seattle, WA

1978-81 Jerome J. Shestack Philadelphia, PA

1981-83 Robert D. Raven San Francisco, CA

1983-85 F. Wm. McCalpin St. Louis, MO

1985-88 John J. Curtin, Jr. Boston, MA

1988-91 Joanne M. Garvey San Francisco, CA

1991-94 Dennis W. Archer Detroit, MI

1994-97 Laurie D. Zelon Los Angeles, CA

1997-2000 Doreen D. Dodson St Louis, MO

2000-03 L. Jonathan Ross Manchester, NH

2003-06 William O. Whitehurst Austin, TX

2006-09 Deborah G. Hankinson Dallas, TX

2009-11 Robert E. Stein Washington, DC

2012-15 Lisa C. Wood Boston, MA

2015-18 Hon. Lora Livingston Austin, TX

2018-21 Theodore A. Howard Washington, DC

[2020 SCLAID book ends with Howard. Need latest chair names and dates]

2022-23 Hon. Bryant Y. Yang Los Angeles, CA

Source: “Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants: Highlights from One Hundred Years of Working for Justice”, ABA, March 2020. https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_aid_indigent_defendants/ls-sclaid-history-book.pdf