Special interview: Martha reflects on her 40-year career in civil legal aid.
On August 1, 2021, Martha Bergmark retired as founding executive director of Voices for Civil Justice.
In a legal career spanning five decades, Martha was a leader in the movement to fulfill America’s promise of justice for all. As executive director of Voices for Civil Justice from its inception in 2013, Martha and her team created a national media and communications resource for advocates of civil justice reform and civil legal aid and drove a drumbeat of media attention to how civil justice reform can advance solutions for problems we all care about — from homelessness to domestic violence to the Covid-19 pandemic. By connecting headline news to underlying civil justice challenges, Voices reshaped the public narrative, resulting in funding increases for civil legal aid and meaningful policy change.
During her tenure as its founding president, the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) became an influential force for progressive change, scoring significant policy and litigation wins and growing to a $4 million annual budget with 35 staff at three offices. She continues to serve MCJ as a board member and senior counsel.
Martha previously served as executive vice president and president of the Legal Services Corporation, administering federal funding to civil legal aid organizations nationwide, and as senior vice president for programs of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. She began her legal career as a civil rights and legal aid lawyer in her home state of Mississippi.
Martha is a former Reginald Heber Smith Fellow, Stern Family Fund Public Interest Pioneer, White House Champion of Change, and a recipient of the Kutak-Dodds Prize and the ABA Section of Litigation’s John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Michigan Law School and holds honorary degrees from Oberlin College and Millsaps College.
Areas of Expertise
access to justice; race and civil rights; the Deep South; disaster assistance
Writings by Martha Bergmark on this site.