Reports Legal Elite

Legal Services/Pro Bono

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Stephen Dickinson

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society

Title: Executive director

Other legal specialties: Developing technological solutions to make justice more accessible to the poor.

Birthplace: Manchester, N.H.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Bates College; law degree, Washington & Lee University School of Law

Children: Rory, a junior at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, and Ben, a freshman at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School

Hobbies: Camping, hiking and restoring a 1974 VW Beetle

First job as a lawyer: Staff attorney at the legal aid office in Petersburg

Fan of: Boston sports teams and the Richmond Flying Squirrels

Favorite vacation spot: Any of our national or state parks

Recently read book: “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing

Career mentors: Dale Pittman, Barbara Ziony and Tara Casey.

Why did you decide to become a legal services attorney? I chose a career in legal aid because I was drawn to the variety and quality of the cases, the independence of the practice, the satisfaction in always helping the underdog, and a notion of patriotism in trying every day to make the American ideal of “justice for all” a reality. I also really like the other people who are attracted to legal aid.

What needs to be done to provide more legal services to low-income clients? Legal Aid needs more “boots on the ground” to make a difference. Study after study shows that in Virginia and around the country legal-aid attorneys and all our pro-bono volunteer partners meet less than 20 percent of the civil legal needs of poor people. There is only one legal-aid lawyer for every 7,100 low-income persons in Virginia compared with one lawyer for every 350 citizens across the commonwealth.

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