What is the King County Bar Association?
The King County Bar Association (KCBA) was founded in 1886 and incorporated in 1906 as a voluntary professional association. Today the mission of the King County Bar Association is to provide support to its diverse membership; promote a just, collegial and accessible legal system and profession; work with the judiciary to achieve excellence in the administration of justice; strive to benefit the community through its own efforts and those of its Foundation; and offer opportunities for public service and input into matters of public policy.
Governed by a 17-member Board of Trustees, the bar currently has over 5,400 members, a staff of 35 and an annual budget of $3 million. The Executive Director as chief executive officer is responsible for the organization, operation and supervision of Association activities, as guided by policies and goals established by the board.
The core activities of the King County Bar Association are typical of a professional association of lawyers. Over 20 committees and 15 sections meet monthly. Our Continuing Legal Education Department has a vibrant program offering continuing legal education (CLE) seminars each year to attorneys. KCBA offers many networking opportunities to its members, including socials, the annual awards dinner and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. luncheon. Our monthly newspaper, the Bar Bulletin, features articles about substantive areas of the law as well as information about KCBA programs and activities. Attorneys enjoy a variety of benefits through membership in the organization, including group insurance plans and discounts on services and products. Our diversity programs work to increase diversity in the legal profession at all stages of the pipeline, from high school to law firm, to support a diverse bar and bench.
The Lawyer Referral Service benefits both the public and KCBA members who register for the service. Referrals are made on a regular fee basis in most areas of law after the callers are screened by an intake interviewer. The service is certified by the American Bar Association and attorneys must meet certain requirements to register for the panel.
Improving the justice system:
Working to improve the administration of justice is an important part of the King County Bar Association’s mission. Sitting judges, commissioners and magistrates are honorary KCBA members and work collaboratively on many KCBA committees and projects. The Bench Bar Conference is an annual opportunity for members of the legal profession and the judiciary to come together to discuss topics of common interest.
KCBA provides information to the public on judicial performance and suitability through regular attorney surveys and a special screening committee that rates judges in contested elections.
Serving the Community - Access to Justice:
KCBA helps low-income residents of King County with civil legal matters through legal service/pro bono programs: VLS - Volunteer Legal Services, the Neighborhood Legal Clinics, Kinship Care Solutions Project; the Housing Justice Project and the Family Law Mentor Program and Self-Help Plus.
The King County Bar has been involved in pro bono activities informally since 1939; in 1974 the Neighborhood Legal Clinics were established. In 1978, Volunteer Legal Services (VLS) and Self Help Plus were established. VAPWA, Volunteer Attorneys for Person with Aids, was brought under the auspices of KCBA in 1989 and remains the only legal services programs concerned with the legal needs of the HIV/AIDS community. The Mentor program, established in 1988, pairs experienced family law attorneys with new family law attorneys to handle complex cases where children are at risk.
King County Bar Foundation
The King County Bar Foundation (KCBF), a 501(c)3 organization, was established in 1979. Its mission is to ensure access to the legal system to encourage diversity in the legal profession. The Foundation provides scholarships for minority law students at the University of Washington and Seattle University law schools and provides pro bono legal services to the poor through Pro Bono Services volunteer attorney programs managed by the King County Bar Association. During KCBA’s 2008 fiscal year, the Community Legal Services programs assisted 9,641 clients using the services of 1,750 volunteers who donated 29,150 hours for a value of $7,484,760.
The Foundation has expanded dramatically in recent years going from a budget of $25,000 to over $1,000,000 in 2008. KCBF is dedicated to supporting the Bar-sponsored pro bono/legal service programs and to ensuring access to the legal system and encouraging diversity in the legal community. The Foundation has a management contract with KCBA to manage the pro bono/legal service programs.
King County Bar Institute
The King County Bar Institute is a 501(c)3 organization incorporated in 2003 committed to conducting and supporting law-related education programs for the benefit of the public toward understanding and/or improving the system of justice. The Drug Policy Project, a high-level partnership of lawyers, doctors, pharmacists and other professionals in Washington seeking to find more effective ways to reduce the harm and costs of drug abuse, was partially funded through KCBI.
The financial records of the King County Bar Association, Foundation, and Institute are reviewed annually by independent outside auditors, and nonprofit tax returns are filed for each entity annually with the Internal Revenue Service. Copies of these reports and filings are available upon request. For more information, please contact Heather Mullin by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (206-267-7055).