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In a divided and volatile city – still reeling from President Kennedy’s assassination, but empowered by the passage of the Civil Rights Act – a group of visionary leaders sought to actualize the fight for justice in the nation’s capital by establishing the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in 1964. From its beginning, NLSP embodied a different approach to providing legal services, placing its offices in some of the neediest neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, providing access to justice and advocating for systemic change.

A key member of this visionary group was Howard C. Westwood, a partner at the prestigious law firm of Covington & Burling. Starting in 1969, Covington expanded its support for NLSP by establishing a first-of-its-kind loaned associate program, sending Covington associates to NLSP to engage directly in the struggle for civil justice and civil rights. This program continues to this day. 

In 1976, Tom Williamson became one of those loaned associates. Mr. Williamson was deeply committed to the work of NLSP and expanding legal services to the poor. He served on NLSP’s Board of Directors and enjoyed an enormously successful career as a partner at Covington. He served as Solicitor of Labor in the Clinton Administration and served as President of the DC Bar. His career-long pro bono work attacked race and disability discrimination in many forms, and he remained a lifelong advocate for NLSP until his untimely death in 2017.

For 50 years, NLSP and Covington have worked hand in hand. In the early 1990s Covington established the Westwood Fellowship Program to honor Mr. Westwood’s vision; this two-year fellowship continues to be awarded annually to a DC-area law school graduate, serving to expand NLSP impact in the DC community and to launch the public interest careers of talented lawyers, many of whom go on to careers as NLSP lawyers. The Tom Williamson Endowment Fund continues this rich tradition of support for NLSP and honors Mr. Williamson’s strong commitment to civil rights and access to justice. 

 Tom Williamson Endowment Honorary Committee    Tom Williamson Endowment Committee

Donors to the Tom Williamson Endowment Fund as of April 15, 2021