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Harbaugh joins group that promotes legal aid for low-income citizens

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is putting his civic duty ahead of everything else.

“I may be a football coach, but I’m an American first, and all Americans should care about justice," said Harbaugh in a statement on AmericanLawyer.com.

Harbaugh has joined the new Leaders Council of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which raises awareness for increased funding for civil legal services for the poor.

The group was to be introduced Tuesday at the White House, a familiar destination for Harbaugh. Last October he stopped by to chat with the president after appearing with first lady Michelle Obama at a higher education awareness event. Harbaugh also attended the president's State of the Union address in January.

This marks the fifth LSC White House summit to publicize civil legal aid funding.

Adding individuals like Harbaugh from outside the legal world is a new approach for the group. Viacom vice-chairman Shari Redstone, as well as prominent lawyers such as Eric Holder of Covington & Burling and Craig Martin of Jenner & Block also are part of the new group.

“The first step to more funding is more awareness,” said LSC president James Sandman said in the AmericanLawyer.com story. “If Jim Harbaugh would simply speak on the issue (of the legal aid crisis), it would be heard differently.”

Sandman said Sidley Austin partner John Levi, the chairman of LSC’s board, recruited Harbaugh.

"John knows everybody,” he said.