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Access to Justice Commission Raises Record $6.3 Million in Law Firm Giving Campaign

November 10, 2020

By John Murph

The D.C. Access to Justice Commission raised a record $6.3 million during its 2019 Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign, with 44 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 campaign started in 2010 during the recession, a time when legal services organizations were really struggling financially,” said Nancy Drane, the commission’s executive director. “The goal of the campaign was to shine a light on both the need for financial support for these legal services organizations and the important role that our area law firms can play in providing that financial support.”

“Ten years later, we’re now again at a pivotal moment in light of COVID, where we are seeing economic stressors,” Drane added. “We know that legal services organizations are concerned about being able to maintain the financial support that they’ve received over the years. There is no more important a time to really highlight the leadership of these law firms.”

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. 

Since the campaign began, the number of participating firms has grown substantially from 23 to 44. Joining the campaign for the first time in 2019 were Venable Foundation and the firms Cohen & Gresser LLP, Henrikson Law PLLC, and the Law Offices of Dean Gregory.

“These District law firms are an example not only locally but [also] nationally on how the private bar’s generosity can help advance civil justice,” said D.C. Access to Justice Commission chair Peter B. Edelman in a press release. “These funds are essential to ensuring that thousands of District residents have access to legal help in critical areas such as housing, domestic violence, family law, fraud, and more. This is more important than ever in the face of COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact on low-income District residents of color.” 

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

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