Good people finish first,” said James Sandman.
Looking back on Sandman’s life and career, that statement is obviously true.
On Oct. 22, Sandman, the President of the Legal Services Corporation, spoke to a group of law students during the fourth annual McGlothlin Leadership Forum, a three-day event co-hosted by the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and William & Mary Law School.
Sponsored by James W. McGlothlin ’62, J.D. ’64, LL.D. ’00 and Frances G. McGlothlin, the forum presents students with the opportunity to hear from successful professionals and expand their understanding of leadership and integrity.
The latter was a focus of Sandman’s talk at the Law School. He recounted how Judge Max Rosenn of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (for whom Sandman clerked as a young lawyer) was his mentor and a man of impeccable integrity.
During his clerkship, Sandman noticed three main characteristics that Judge Rosenn shared with other successful legal professionals. First, they had integrity in both small and large matters. Second, they treated everyone with respect and kindness, not just those in business suits. Finally, they all appreciated diversity in the broadest sense of the word.
William & Mary students who attended the session were impressed with the message--and with Sandman’s offer to help any young lawyer who asks him.
“The fact that Mr. Sandman, who worked for [Judge Rosenn] probably 30 years ago, was still so passionate about a mentor like that is truly inspiring,” said David Noll J.D. ’15. “In a true pay-it-forward way, he now offers to mentor students and coworkers if they have any interest.”
Noll said that the time commitment that goes into that type of relationship should not be underestimated. “I think for a school that focuses on the idea of the citizen lawyer, his lessons and view of the world were perfect for us to hear,” he said.
Students also discovered Sandman’s refreshing humility and commitment to others. He told students that “lawyers who have integrity can get things done in a way that lawyers who do not have integrity cannot,” and that “the best lawyers I know are the ones with a short list of tasks that are beneath them.”
Sandman has had a long, varied, and successful career. His jobs have taken him from Washington, D.C., to Denver to Los Angeles and back to D.C. again. Sandman is currently the President of the Legal Services Corporation, which is the United States’ single largest funder of civil legal aid programs for low-income people. Before he worked for the Legal Services Corporation, he was the General Counsel for the District of Columbia Public Schools from 2007 to 2011.
Prior to 2007, Sandman worked for Arnold & Porter for 30 years, and was the managing partner for a decade. He was named one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” by the Legal Times in 2008.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.