B. Russell Chapin, 91, a Justice Department lawyer for 25 years, died May 23 at his home in Amelia Island, Fla. He had melanoma, his son Craig Chapin said.

Mr. Chapin joined the Justice Department in 1951 and was a trial lawyer in the Civil Division and appellate section. He wrote manuals on veterans affairs and federal tort claims practice, and contributed to other Justice Department publications.

He served on trouble-shooting missions to Japan and the Philippines, and was a legislative officer for the Civil Division. He also chaired a committee that drafted legislation for a reorganization of the executive branch.

After leaving the Justice Department in 1976, Mr. Chapin was director of regulations and issuances at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and later director of legislative analyses for the American Enterprise Institute. He retired in 1985.

Benjamin Russell Chapin was born on a farm near Winfield, Kan., and grew up on a farm near Red Rock, Okla. He graduated in 1942 from Southwestern College in Winfield and served in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He received a law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1948.

Mr. Chapin practiced law in Oklahoma before moving to Washington in 1949 as an aide to Rep. George Howard Wilson (D-Okla.).

Before moving to Florida in 1994, Mr. Chapin lived in Bethesda, where he was a member of Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Survivors include his wife since 1950, Helen Chenault Chapin of Amelia Island; three children, Craig Chapin of Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Carol Chapin of Madison, Wis., and Clark Chapin of Black Mountain, N. C.; and four grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes