In remembrance of civil rights leader Steve Pollak
Legal Aid DC mourns the loss of our friend Steve Pollak, who passed away on Feb. 3, 2024 at 95.


Steve Pollak

Legal Aid DC mourns the loss of our friend Steve Pollak, whose lifelong commitment to justice had an immeasurable impact. Pollak passed away in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 3, 2024. He was 95. 

As a public servant and in private practice over the span of his impressive career, Pollak was a champion for civil rights and a leader within the legal community. He served as Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division during the height of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s. He was also an advisor to President Lyndon B. Johnson and argued 13 cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pollak was among Legal Aid DC’s first Servant of Justice Award recipients and was recognized in 1994 alongside Charles T. Duncan and Janet Reno. Together with his wife Ruth, Pollak was a longtime supporter of Legal Aid DC’s mission. 

Pollak was a force within the legal community, serving as the president of the DC Bar and the DC Bar Foundation, chair of the DC Access to Justice Commission, and board co-chair for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, among many other leadership roles.

In private practice, Pollak became a partner at Shea & Gardner, which later became Goodwin Procter, in 1969 and served as senior counsel there from 2004 until his retirement. In addition to his leadership at the firm, he dedicated much of his time to pro bono work, and he is credited with helping to establish the DC Bar Pro Bono Center. 

Pollak will be greatly missed at Legal Aid DC and in the entire legal community, but his legacy lives on in the countless lives he touched through his tireless commitment to justice.

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