Oral history interview with Clinton "Clint" Lyons
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Oral history interview with Clinton Lyons, conducted by Victor Geminiani, July 23, 1991. Oral History Collection, National Equal Justice Library, Georgetown Law Library.
Legal services in New Jersey, Reginald Heber Smith program, legal services in Atlanta, initial opposition of Georgia Bar against legal services, responsibilities of the Office of Field Services of the LSC, including supervision of regional offices, delivery systems study (DSS), demonstration projects, relationship between various divisions at the LSC, transition from Carter administration to Reagan, ABC committee (Alan Houseman, Bea Moulton and Clint Lyons), Dan Bradley’s tenure and resignation, conflicts with the Board during Reagan administration, NLADA.
Clinton Lyons was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia. He went to undergraduate school at Manhattan College, and then was drafted into the Air Force, where he spent four years. After completing his service, he finished his undergraduate education and then got admitted to Rutgers Law School. At Rutgers, he learned about the legal services support centers funded by the Ford Foundation and about the work of the OEO. After graduating in 1971, he applied for the Reggie program, where he was accepted for the class of 1971-1971. Lyons started working at Essex County Legal Services in Orange, NJ. In 1974, he was offered a job as the managing attorney in the Augusta Office of the Georgia Legal Services program, where he spent one year. He then moved back to New Jersey to become director of the Newark Legal Services Program, which was part of the Essex County program where he had worked previously. In 1977, he moved back to Georgia to become the deputy director for the regional office in Atlanta in the Office of Legal Services, where he closely worked with John Cromartie Bucky, and was responsible for overseeing the expansion of legal services in the southeast region. In 1978, he became the Director of Field Services at the LSC in Washington, DC, where he was in charge of overseeing the implementation of the Delivery Systems Study, a study of alternative ways of delivering legal services in the country, which was mandated by Congress. After the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, he became part of the ABC committee at the LSC, which worked to ensure that legal services would continue to be delivered, even though federal dollars were cut. After Dan Bradley resigned in 1981, Clint Lyons became executive Vice President of the LSC and shortly thereafter (in 1982) became Acting President of the LSC. He describes the few months as Acting President in the early 1980s, when he was charged with overseeing the operation of the LSC, while the new board, appointed by Reagan, started to turn against the LSC, challenging its very existence. Lyons became the executive director of the NLADA in 1983, a position he held for 22 years, until 2005.
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