Raising the Bar campaign sets new record with $5.5M from 48 law firms

By Jeffery Leon

June 19, 2018

D.C. Access to Justice Commission’s Raising the Bar in D.C. ceremony
Photo Credit: Jeff Leon

A total of 48 law firms took part in the D.C. Access to Justice Commission’s Raising the Bar in D.C. campaign in 2017, raising a record $5.5 million toward closing the access to justice gap for the District of Columbia’s most vulnerable populations.

The firms were honored on May 30 at the National Building Museum that featured remarks from D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, and D.C. Access to Justice Commission chair Peter Edelman.

“All of us should make it our responsibility to get law firms to join this campaign,” Edelman said. “We can always do more.”

Established in 2010, Raising the Bar encourages all law firms and solo practitioners in the District, regardless of their size, to donate a percentage of their D.C. office revenue to local legal services providers serving indigent District residents.

In 2017, 30 firms reached the platinum level, donating .11 percent of their D.C. office revenue to the campaign. Eleven firms gave at the gold level (.09 percent), and seven at the silver level (.075 percent). Five firms increased their commitment level: Arent Fox LLP, Covington & Burling LLP, Dentons US LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, and Miller & Chevalier Chartered.

Four firms participated in the campaign for the first time in 2017: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; KaiserDillon PLLC; Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch, P.C.; and Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

Following Edelman’s remarks, Racine and Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby highlighted the critical need for pro bono service in the District, as well as the importance of donations to support access to justice initiatives.

“Access to justice is a part of who I am and it’s a part of who we all are, collectively as a bar and as a community,” Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby said. “There should be no bar that can be raised high enough that we can’t overcome.”