James (Jim) Springer

SPRINGER JAMES VAN RODEN SPRINGER "Jim" Born on July 9, 1934, Jim Springer passed away peacefully at the age of 87 on January 26, 2022. He is survived by his wife Carol Murphy Springer and his two children, Stephen Meredith Springer (Caroline) and Catherine "Cassie" Springer Toulouse (Jean-Baptiste); six grandchildren, Zoé, Jessie, Gavin, Paul, Ian, and Georges. He was predeceased by his granddaughter, Ella Toulouse, who died of cancer in April 2020.

A native of New York, Jim graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was President of the Law Review. Prior to entering law school, he spent three years in the Army, studying Mandarin before being sent to the edge of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea to monitor Chinese radio communications. He began his legal career in 1961 as a law clerk to Chief Judge J. Edward Lumbard on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then joined the law firm of Covington & Burling. Subsequently, he served as Assistant Legal Adviser for Economic Affairs at the Department of State and later as Deputy Solicitor General at the Department of Justice.

In the seventies, Jim joined a small law firm then known as Dickstein Shapiro & Galligan as a partner in the general litigation practice. For more than thirty years, he was a prominent litigator and antitrust lawyer with an emphasis on appellate practice. Upon retirement from private practice, Jim became a Volunteer Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of DC, offering his services where they were most needed. He worked primarily to help low-income DC residents obtain and keep public benefits and critical health care services. In 2007, the District of Columbia Bar honored Jim as Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year for his extraordinary work at Legal Aid. In 2012, he received Legal Aid's Servant of Justice Award.

Jim was a loving husband, father, and grandfather with an unwavering moral compass. His dry wit and sense of humor always shone a light on the ironies of life. A true do-it-yourselfer, he was a skilled carpenter and never left home without his Leatherman. Jim loved to travel but his greatest joy was spending summers on Chebeague Island Maine with family, friends, and his beloved dog Wiggy.

A memorial service will be held at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC on Friday, February 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim's memory may be made to the Legal Aid Society of DC at legalaiddc.org.


A Note from Chebeaguers:
Chebeague owes Jim a tremendous debt of gratitude. At the time of secession, when the island was working to become it’s own town, it faced a problem which seemed insurmountable. During the effort, the question came up regarding Chebeague’s position in SAD (School Administrative District) #51. One argument was that we would have to somehow secede from both the Town of Cumberland and SAD #51 separately which would complicate the process tremendously, if not make it impossible. Jim Springer researched the question and came to the conclusion, which he forcefully advocated, that the new town could secede simultaneously from both the Town of Cumberland and SAD #51. This paved the way for the ultimately successful secession effort and the eventual creation of the Town of Chebeague Island.


Legal Aid was saddened to learn of the passing of James VanR. Springer, who died on January 26, 2022. Jim served as a Volunteer Staff Attorney at Legal Aid for eight years, helping countless DC residents and mentoring dozens of junior Legal Aid attorneys. In 2012, he was honored with Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award for his faithful dedication and remarkable achievement in ensuring that all people have equal and meaningful access to justice, joining the ranks of Vernon Jordan, Eric Holder, Janet Reno, Charles Horsky, and many others.

Jim joined Legal Aid in 2005 after his retirement from the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP, where he was a prominent partner in the firm’s general litigation practice for more than three decades. Prior to working at Dickstein — from 1968 to 1972 — he served as a Deputy Solicitor General, during which time he presented ten oral arguments in the Supreme Court of the United States.

When Jim offered his services to Legal Aid, he simply asked where his services were needed most. He came on as a Volunteer Staff Attorney in the Public Benefits Law Unit, helping clients navigate the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration and ensuring that people who were elderly or living with disabilities could fill their prescriptions through their Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. He continued to volunteer with Legal Aid’s Medicare Part D work for several years after he stopped working full time at Legal Aid. In addition to the Servant of Justice Award, Jim was honored with the DC Bar’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2007.

Throughout his time at Legal Aid, Jim was universally adored by his clients (who would always ask for him by name) and his colleagues.

“I worked with Jim for about 10 years and he never gave up on my case,” former client Virginia Rayford told us. “And even after he retired, he continued to handle my Part D work. Jim was a gentle giant. He was so kind and I have truly been blessed to know him.”

We are so grateful for his help in meeting our clients needs and all the wisdom he shared with us from his years of experience.

“He was so talented, yet so humble,” said Nina Wu, Supervising Attorney in the Public Benefits Law Unit. “So passionate about serving Legal Aid clients and tearing down any institution that stood between them and getting what they needed and deserved, but also so incredibly funny.”

Jim was also a tremendously generous financial supporter for Legal Aid and was one of the 20 most generous individual donors in the organization’s history. At his family’s request, donations to Legal Aid in Jim’s honor may be made here.