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34 Firms Donate Record $7.2 Million to Raising the Bar Campaign

August 03, 2022

By Susannah Buell

The D.C. Access to Justice Commission raised a record $7.2 million during its 2021 Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign, with 34 law firms donating a portion of their D.C. office revenue toward enhancing access to civil legal services in the District.

Funds raised will benefit more than 40 legal services organizations, including the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, DC Affordable Law Firm, and Whitman-Walker Health legal clinic, that provide aid to the District’s most vulnerable populations.

“The impact of the pandemic on the least fortunate in our community continues to be nothing short of devastating,” says Nancy Drane, the commission’s executive director. “The legal needs of our fellow citizens in dealing with their most basic needs … have been magnified by the public health emergency and the related economic fallout. The resulting legal needs will last for years for some of our most vulnerable District residents.”

The commission works year-round to encourage firms, regardless of size, to donate to local legal services providers at one of three tiers of giving: platinum, gold, and silver (.11 percent, .09 percent, and .075 percent, respectively, of their D.C. office revenue). Cash donations, donated attorney’s fees, and payments for firm-sponsored fellowships are counted.

Given the unprecedented challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission especially lauded the 21 firms that were able to sustain their level of giving from the previous year and the seven firms (Arnold & Porter; Beveridge & Diamond PC; Covington & Burling LLP; Latham & Watkins LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; the Piorkowski Law Firm, PC; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP) that rose a level in 2021.

“Financial support has allowed legal services providers to develop new and innovative programs to respond to this profound level of need, as well as sustained, robust pro bono training and mentorship programs that multiply the impact of District lawyers,” Drane says.

Since the campaign launched in 2011 with participation from 23 firms, the aggregate giving has increased more than $4.38 million.

“The leadership of these firms is an essential element of access to justice in the District,” D.C. Access to Justice Commission chair Peter B. Edelman said in a press release. “These funds provide essential support to our legal services providers [that] in turn ensure that thousands of District residents have access to legal help in critical areas such as housing, domestic violence, family law, fraud, and more. These needs were made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacts low-income District residents of color, and these needs will be long-lasting and continue even as we move towards recovery.”

More information about the Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign can be found here.

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