Dan J. Bradley (1941-1988)

Dan J. Bradley headshotLAAC’s Dan Bradley Fellowship is named in honor of the former President and San Francisco Regional Director of the federal Legal Services Corporation, who died of complications related to AIDS on January 8, 1988.

He worked in rural Florida on behalf of migrant farm workers. He went on to lead legal services efforts on a statewide and national level. Thanks to his tireless advocacy and charismatic leadership, the national effort to expand and equalize access to justice for the poor had many successes. This fellowship honors Dan’s legacy and the principles for which he stood.

Biography & Legacy

Bradley was named LSC President in 1979 by President Carter. According to Bradley’s 1988 New York Times obituary:

He was widely credited with thwarting the Reagan Administration’s attempts to abolish the agency. Mr. Bradley built a coalition of key conservative and liberal politicians, convincing them to continue financing the agency, according to Clinton Lyons, executive director of the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association.

Representative Robert W. Kastenmeier, Democrat of Wisconsin, who is chairman of a subcommittee on courts, civil liberties and administration of justice that is still grappling with the agency’s future, said Mr. Bradley was a ”very effective president.”

“They would have eliminated every dime, but he was deeply committed to his cause,” Mr. Kastenmeier said. “Dan wouldn’t give up.”

“Dan was an extremely gifted person about human relations,” [Lyons] said. “He was great at building consensus. Without him, the Legal Services Corporation would not have survived.”

Bradley was born in Manchester, Georgia, but due to family illness was raised as an orphan in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home. He worked his way through Mercer University and its law school in Macon. After graduation, he was selected in 1967 to be a member of the first class of Reginald Huber Smith Community Lawyer Fellows.

Working in rural Florida, his skilled and effective advocacy on behalf of migrant farm workers brought him national attention. As a result, he became the Southern Regional Director for the OEO Legal Services Program in 1970. In 1975, he was named the first regional director in California for the new Legal Services Corporation.

Further reading:
New York Times obituary
Nancy Polikoff blog post