Sandman Speaks on Garland's Public Service

By Jeffery Leon

March 31, 2016

As the D.C. Bar continues its coverage of the nomination process for Judge Merrick Garland, we will be profiling Bar members who have known or have worked with Garland at some point during his decades-long career to provide insight on the U.S. Supreme Court nominee. Here, James Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation and former president of the D.C. Bar, speaks of his experiences working alongside Garland. Both practiced at Arnold & Porter LLP, and Sandman currently chairs the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.

'World's Best Résumé'

Jim Sandman"It could be intimidating being Merrick's colleague. He has the world's best résumé. He graduated first in his class from Harvard College, magna cum laude from Harvard Law School; he had two of the preeminent clerkships in the United States. I remember one time during the mid-1980s, while practicing full-time as a litigator at Arnold & Porter, he also published lead articles in both the Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. A full-time academic would aspire to get those placements, and Merrick did it in his spare time."

Mentor for Young Minds

"In addition to his attorney casework and the articles that he published, he regularly did pro bono work during his time at Arnold & Porter. As an example of the kind of person he is, Merrick's tutoring of D.C. public school students over the last 18 years is completely consistent with his character. I didn't know he was doing that; I read it in The Washington Post! He works quietly, without fanfare and without seeking attention. He is also enormously helpful and supportive of the Judicial Conference Committee, and uses the prestige of his position as chief judge to advance our cause."

What You See Is What You Get

"I don't think I've ever met a more genuinely humble person. He is warm and funny and completely human. He has never forgotten where he came from. What people heard and saw in the Rose Garden of the White House when he described his background—that's the Merrick I know."

Jamie Gorelick, former D.C. Bar president and partner at WilmerHale LLP, spoke to the Bar about her insights into Judge Garland from their college days at Harvard to their time together at the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.