Remembering Volunteer Staff Attorney Jim Springer

Legal Aid was saddened to learn of the passing of James VanR. Springer, who died on January 26, 2022. Jim served as a Volunteer Staff Attorney at Legal Aid for eight years, helping countless DC residents and mentoring dozens of junior Legal Aid attorneys. In 2012, he was honored with Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award for his faithful dedication and remarkable achievement in ensuring that all people have equal and meaningful access to justice, joining the ranks of Vernon Jordan, Eric Holder, Janet Reno, Charles Horsky, and many others.

Jim joined Legal Aid in 2005 after 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. Prior to working at Dickstein — from 1968 to 1972 — he served as a Deputy Solicitor General, during which time he presented ten oral arguments in the Supreme Court of the United States.

When Jim offered his services to Legal Aid, he simply asked where his services were needed most. He came on as a Volunteer Staff Attorney in the Public Benefits Law Unit, helping clients navigate the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration and ensuring that people who were elderly or living with disabilities could fill their prescriptions through their Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. He continued to volunteer with Legal Aid’s Medicare Part D work for several years after he stopped working full time at Legal Aid. In addition to the Servant of Justice Award, Jim was honored with the DC Bar’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2007.

Throughout his time at Legal Aid, Jim was universally adored by his clients (who would always ask for him by name) and his colleagues.

“I worked with Jim for about 10 years and he never gave up on my case,” former client Virginia Rayford told us. “And even after he retired, he continued to handle my Part D work. Jim was a gentle giant. He was so kind and I have truly been blessed to know him.”

We are so grateful for his help in meeting our clients needs and all the wisdom he shared with us from his years of experience.

“He was so talented, yet so humble,” said Nina Wu, Supervising Attorney in the Public Benefits Law Unit. “So passionate about serving Legal Aid clients and tearing down any institution that stood between them and getting what they needed and deserved, but also so incredibly funny.”

Jim was also a tremendously generous financial supporter for Legal Aid and was one of the 20 most generous individual donors in the organization’s history. At his family’s request, donations to Legal Aid in Jim’s honor may be made here.