LOS ANGELES--()--Bet Tzedek Legal Services today announced that attorney and long-time community leader Sandor E. Samuels has been selected as president and chief executive officer of the nationally respected public-interest law firm. The appointment followed a comprehensive, three-month national search.
“Sandy Samuels personifies the best ideals of Bet Tzedek: legal excellence, an abiding belief in equal access to justice and a record of tireless civic engagement and service to the community”
Samuels has served as a member of Bet Tzedek’s board of directors since 1994, including a two-year term as its chair. Most recently, Samuels served as senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Bank of America Corporation’s Home Loans and Insurance Division until his retirement in August 2010 after 30 years in the financial-services industry. He joined Bank of America upon its 2008 acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corporation. Over his 18-year career as a senior executive and chief legal officer of Countrywide, Samuels built a corporate-law department that grew from a staff of nine to more than 250 under his direction.
“Sandy Samuels personifies the best ideals of Bet Tzedek: legal excellence, an abiding belief in equal access to justice and a record of tireless civic engagement and service to the community,” said Bet Tzedek Chair Gary D. Roberts. “Intelligence, integrity, demonstrated management skills and respect across legal and civic circles make Sandy the ideal individual to build upon Bet Tzedek’s 35-plus year record of accomplishment. His selection as president and CEO extends a legacy of outstanding leaders to have occupied this position before him.”
Samuels stated: “I am honored and humbled to be chosen to lead Bet Tzedek. My efforts on behalf of Bet Tzedek over the years reflect the immense pride and close kinship I feel to this vital and dynamic organization. With a remarkable staff and committed base of volunteers, we are, in numerous ways, the yardstick for excellence in legal-aid services—through our direct client representation, educational outreach and policy-making initiatives. I expect us to continue building fully upon these successes.”
He continued, “By stroke of fortuitous timing, I was shifting from the corporate counsel phase of my career just as the Bet Tzedek opportunity arose. I am enormously fortunate at this juncture to be able now to devote my energies and my passion on a full-time professional basis to ensuring that justice is accessible to the most vulnerable members of our society. This opportunity enables me to meld my love of the law, my commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world), and my community involvement that has been so richly fulfilling to me over my career.”
Samuels assumes management and administrative oversight of Bet Tzedek, including an operating budget of $7 million. The organization annually serves approximately 12,000 low-income, elderly and disabled clients through a staff of 67 and nearly 1,600 volunteer attorneys and paralegals, who last year contributed more than 60,000 hours to Bet Tzedek’s important work.
Holly J. Fujie, who led the Bet Tzedek board selection committee, said, “My committee members and I were all impressed by the caliber of the candidates and the credentials they brought to bear. Sandy’s appointment followed a rigorous process through which we narrowed in phases a sizable pool of initial applicants to arrive at three finalists—each with outstanding qualifications. The outpouring of interest in the position stands, in my view, as a testament to Bet Tzedek’s sterling reputation and breadth of accomplishments. In the end, Sandy was unequivocally the right choice.”
About Sandor E. Samuels
In addition to his decade and a half of continuous service to Bet Tzedek, Samuels has sat on the boards of numerous other nonprofit and community organizations. These include the Los Angeles Urban League, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, American Jewish University and that institution’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, whose board of advisors he chaired from 2005-2008. Additionally, Samuels is currently president of Adat Ari El Synagogue and has been a member of its board since 1985.
A past recipient of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Outstanding Corporate Counsel of the Year award and Bet Tzedek’s own Luis Lainer Founder’s Award, Samuels is equally dedicated in his leadership involvement in industry and professional organizations. He was, until his retirement, a member of the Housing Policy Executive Council and the board of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, as well as a member of the residential board of governors for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. In these capacities and in his professional positions, Samuels worked with industry representatives, government officials and regulators to implement loan-modification solutions to help borrowers retain their homes.
Samuels earned his J.D. degree from the UCLA School of Law (Order of the Coif) and holds an A.B. degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. A resident of Encino, Calif., he and his wife, Dr. Claudia Wallack Samuels, have three grown children.
About Bet Tzedek Legal Services
Founded in 1974, Bet Tzedek’s mission is to ensure “equal justice for all.” One of the nation’s premier public-interest law firms, Bet Tzedek, “The House of Justice” in Hebrew, provides free legal services in matters involving consumer rights, elder law, housing, public benefits and workers’ rights to low-income, disabled and elderly people of all racial and religious backgrounds. Each year, Bet Tzedek and its staff of 67 serve approximately 12,000 clients in the Los Angeles area, augmented by nearly 1,600 attorneys and paralegals who donate more than 60,000 hours in time. Bet Tzedek is renowned as one of a handful of agencies in the world to offer free legal help to Holocaust survivors across the nation and internationally on a wide range of issues, including reparations, pensions, and benefits offered by Germany and other European countries.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Photo of Samuels available upon request.