October 2017 Bar Bulletin
By Andrew Prazuch
If you work in a King County law firm, your office should have received by now a request for financial support for our county’s annual participation in the Campaign for Equal Justice. Will you urge your firm to be a leader in this effort?
Each fall the King County Bar Foundation joins with the Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW) to ask that all county law firms make a generous financial donation to our statewide civil legal aid system. Firms large and small have been very generous over the years, but for those that aren’t aware of the campaign, I wanted to provide a few words of background and ask for your help promoting this initiative.
While the King County bar’s first priority is ensuring full funding for our own pro bono civil legal aid programs, the bar also takes seriously its role as a leader in the statewide civil legal aid delivery system. As a result, once a year we step back and recognize that the legal profession in the Seattle-Bellevue-Kent metropolitan area has access to far greater financial resources than the rest of the state does. And outside King County it can be a significant challenge to raise enough local funding to support civil legal aid.
LFW does have some shared resources to deploy across the state, but those are generally limited to state government appropriations, IOLTA receipts, and occasional cy pres awards. Without additional charitable donations to supplement those sources, there simply would not be enough resources to ensure a minimum level of services outside King County.
Through our joint law firm campaign, about half of the funds raised are designated for the King County bar’s local programs, such as our Neighborhood Legal Clinics, Housing Justice Project and family law programs. The other half of raised funds go into the general fund available to LFW for use throughout the state.
The King County bar is proud to support the work of our statewide partners and enthusiastically partners with LFW on this fundraising effort each year. Working together, the King County bar and LFW served 30,000 low-income families last year. Without the continued donations from local law firms, too many families will face the justice system alone.
These funds are used to help tenants facing wrongful evictions; women and children fleeing domestic violence; veterans struggling in civilian life; workers cheated out of wages or denied lawful benefits; and immigrants fleeing violence or economic distress in their home countries. This includes programs that seek to help immigrants who were brought to our country as children and know no other country as home.
How does it work? First, each law firm received a letter co-signed by leaders of the King County bar and LFW. About two weeks later, trustees from both organizations are assigned a list of firms for follow-up. Firms are asked to make a pledge commitment by Thanksgiving; the donation can be paid right away or as late as June of next year. Most important for now is to make that pledge.
Our suggested donation level is $300 per attorney in each firm. If a firm donates at that level for each attorney (or otherwise at least $25,000 per firm), the firm is listed under a roster of Champions of Justice. That said, we appreciatively accept all donation amounts and will be grateful for whatever level of support your firm can provide.
Could you let your firm’s leadership (or let yourself know if you lead your firm!) that you believe this is an important cause to support and an important responsibility of the legal profession? And if your firm has not been contacted, please let me know so I can put you in touch with one of our board members to answer your questions.
Let’s spread the word about the King County Law Firm Campaign for Equal Justice. Together we can raise the funds needed to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have access to civil legal aid. P.S. If you’re not practicing in a law firm, you can make an individual gift to this campaign at legalfoundation.org/kingcountycampaign.
Andrew Prazuch is executive director of the King County Bar Association. He can be reached by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (206-267-7061).