“Remembering Doar: Justice As A 4-Letter Word”
The passing of John Doar earlier this month is an occasion for lawyers everywhere to marvel at just how impactful and inspiring one attorney can be. For lawyers in public service, including those who provide pro bono legal services, Doar is proof that one man or woman can make a lasting difference. Those of us who are daunted by his brilliant achievements should remind ourselves that today there are countless opportunities to carry his torch.
Doar ran the United States Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at perhaps the most chaotic and pivotal time in its history. The duration of his tenure itself says a lot about his value. He joined the DOJ at the end of the Eisenhower administration, became civil rights chief under John F. Kennedy, and stayed on during the Johnson years and passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He didn’t just preside at a historic time, he calmly and coolly shaped it.