John D. Robb, Jr.
(1924 – 2014)
Christian Legal Aid today stands on the shoulders of one giant—John D. Robb, Jr. Affectionately known as the “godfather” of the Christian Legal Aid movement, John left a big legacy on legal service to the poor. As he once stated, “Law has always satisfied me intellectually, but legal aid for the poor is an affair of the heart.”
Originally a nominal church-attending Christian when he was younger, he embraced Christ fully at about age 40. At that time, he rededicated himself to God and “seriously embraced the Bible’s call to care for the poor and needy.” In the 1970’s, John served as Chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. He testified before Congress and was instrumental in the creation of the Legal Services Corporation, the federally-funded organization that supports nearly all of the major secular legal aid organizations around the country.
Recognizing that secular legal aid was missing an important dimension of clients’ problems, however, John devoted the latter part of his career to spreading the message of Christian Legal Aid (CLA). Many of the most successful CLA programs in the country today owe their existence to John’s inspiration and guidance.
Hundreds of thousands of people with desperate life situations have been helped through the secular and faith-based legal aid programs that are part of his legacy. John was a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ who shined with His light and love, quietly helping people less fortunate than himself with great generosity and humility.
The article by John, “Christian Legal Services: A Call to Love and Action” (first published in the Christian Legal Society Quarterly, Fall 1981 and republished in the 50th anniversary of the Christian Lawyer magazine), reveals his deep passion for promoting the call to Love and action among Christian attorneys. We pray that more Christian attorneys will follow his footsteps and “consider afresh our obligations to help bind up the legal wounds of unfortunate people as a visible expression of our Lord’s love and concern for them.”
John D. Robb, Jr. Christian Legal Aid Award
The John D. Robb, Jr. Christian Legal Aid Award is “bestowed from time to time upon that individual, like Mr. Robb, who in the judgment of the Christian Legal Society Board of Directors has made a significant contribution to the cause of serving the legal and spiritual needs of the poor.” It is presented to a staff or volunteer of a Christian Legal Aid program who best exemplifies the enthusiasm and dedication of John Robb in advancing the provision of legal services to the poor with the love of Christ.
Below are the awardees of the Award since its inception in 2005:
2020 Alissa Baier (Open Door Legal Services, Seattle WA)
Sheila Fell (Scranton Road Legal Clinic, Cleveland OH)
2019 Craig Schulz (Wichita Christian Legal Aid)
2018 Jim Richardson (Tucson Gospel Rescue Mission Clinic)
2017 Jim Helfrich (Denver, CO)
2016 Pete Hileman (Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia, PA)
2015 Chuck Hogren (Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago IL)
2014 George "Chip" Grange (Good Samaritan Advocates, VA/MD)
2013 C.J. Masimore (Open Hands Legal Services, NY)
Lura Unger (Wichita Christian Legal Aid, KS)
2008 Patricia Gandy (Mission First, MS)
2005 Gerald Nordgren (Chicago, IL)
Honoring John Robb's Legacy