Victor Geminiani, Founder and Executive Director

Victor Geminiani is the founding executive director of the Lawyers for Equal Justice. He began his legal services career as a VISTA Volunteer lawyer with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society after graduating from Villanova University School of Law in 1969. He has served as the Director of Litigation and Law Reform with Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Legal Services and as Executive Director of the Legal Services of Western Massachusetts, the Legal Services of Northern California, the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. He has also worked in the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as Associate Director of Support and Finances, responsible for LSC funding policy and as the Southeast Regional Director, overseeing the 75 legal services programs located in the 10 Southern states.

Victor has served in a variety of capacities with the boards of several national associations including the Executive Committee of the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, as founding board member and President of the Management Information Exchange and as a board member of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association. He has also served as a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Public Service Responsibility, as Chairperson of the Litigation Section’s Pro Bono Committee and founder of the Section’s Legal Services Project. He has been recognized for his contributions to legal services delivery by being presented with the Reginald Heber Smith Award by National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the John Minor Wisdom Award by the ABA’s Litigation Section and the Champion of Social Justice Award by Hawai‘i State Bar Association. He currently serves on the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission and on the board of Hawai‘i Habitat for Humanity Association.

Tom Helper, Director of Litigation

Tom Helper became Director of Litigation at LEJ in January 2019. He graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1988, Order of the Coif, and served as an editor on the law review. Prior to law school he worked for three years as a canvasser and canvass director for the Ohio Public Interest Campaign and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Tom came to Hawaiʻi in 1990 to work as Chief of Staff for State Representative Cynthia Thielen. He then began a 27-year career in the Civil Division of the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Hawaiʻi, defending federal agencies in a broad variety of cases, particularly tort and employment discrimination cases. He was lead counsel in two dozen federal court trials. He became Chief of the Civil Division in 2013, supervising 10 attorneys and staff. He took early retirement in late 2018 because he felt he could no longer effectively represent the United States under the current administration.

Isaiah Feldman-Schwartz, AmeriCorps VISTA Legal Analyst

Isaiah is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Lawyers for Equal Justice. He works primarily on issues related to eviction and affordable housing, and assists LEJ with its litigation efforts. Inspired by parents who dedicated their lives to fighting poverty and injustice, Isaiah is honored to have been welcomed into the fold at LEJ, where he is constantly impressed by the passion and diligence of his colleagues. Isaiah recently graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science. He waited tables at a cafe on Kauaʻi the summer after his sophomore year, at which point it became clear to him that he wanted to move to the islands full time as soon as possible. Isaiah has relished the opportunity to learn about the rich history and culture of Hawaiʻi, and he feels deeply grateful to the various communities that have greeted him with open arms. He looks forward to continuing to learn from mentors and friends at LEJ and beyond. Following the completion of his term of service, Isaiah will be attending Harvard Law School, where he hopes to take the next step towards a career in public interest law.