Commitment to Social Justice
As the 1930s came to a close, the Depression in the United States neared its end. But a decade of hard economic times had alerted the public and the bar to the plight of the poor. Since 1934 the legal profession had played a significant role in the social service orientation of President Roosevelt's New Deal administration and the profession increasingly turned some of its efforts toward helping those who could not afford legal services.
Within this environment, the King County Bar Association became one of the first bar associations to establish a legal aid bureau.
As early as 1937 the King County Bar Association's trustees had passed a motion to appoint a committee to investigate providing free legal aid. In April 1939 the new chair of the Legal Aid Commiittee, Frank P. Helsell, reported on the work of the committee and recommended that separate offices and separate personnel be retained to carry out the work of the Legal Aid Bureau.
As a result, in 1939, the board passed a resolution that stated, in part, the following:
RESOLVED, that the Legal Aid Committee of the Seattle Bar Association be and is hereby authorized
to extend its activities to include the operation and mainitenance of a bureau having its own office and
personnel, to be known as the Seattle Bar Association Legal Aid Bureau; to employ in the operation of
such bureau a director, clerk, and to do all things necessary for the successful operations and
maintenance of such bureau...
In 1993, the Legal Aid Committee became known as the King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services.
Today, over 1300 dedicated Pro Bono Services volunteer attorneys, paralegals, students and community members serve 10,000 low income families annually and provide $7.8 million in free legal services. The King County Bar Association offers six Pro Bono Services programs:
Family Law Mentor Program- Dissolution and parentage cases where children are at risk
Kinship Care Solutions Project- Third party custody cases
Housing Justice Project– Eviction defense for tenants
Neighborhood Legal Clinics- Civil legal issues, 30-minute client consultations
Self-Help Plus Program– Uncontested dissolutions and parenting plans, pro se clients
Volunteer Legal Services– Direct on-going representation for civil legal issues: Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debt defense, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, SSI/SSDI overpayments, vacating criminal records
PRO BONO SERVICES MISSION
The King County Bar Association Pro Bono Services promote social justice by establishing and managing volunteer-based, client-focused legal services programs and provides services on an equal and non-discriminatory basis for low income King County residents who would not otherwise receive legal assistance.