October 2013 Bar Bulletin
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October 2013 Bar Bulletin

King County Firms Join Together to Fund Access to Justice

By Mark Johnson and Mary Jo Newhouse


No one knows better than lawyers and judges that representation by a capable attorney is, for all practical purposes, a necessity for achieving a good result in a civil case. We also know well the high cost of good counsel.

The sad reality is that access to civil justice is reserved almost exclusively for those who can afford to pay our not-inconsiderable fees. The statistics are mind numbing: Annually, 75 percent of low-income families in King County and across our state face a civil legal problem, often involving an issue of personal safety, food or housing, and 85 percent of the families are unrepresented. This represents a staggering and embarrassing wealth-based justice gap, particularly in a democracy justifiably proud of its rule of law.

For these families there is a single, fragile firewall between hope and hopelessness - Washington's network of 23 civil legal aid clinics, many of which are created by county bars and staffed by local lawyers.

The annual Campaign for Equal Justice (C4EJ) unites lawyers, judges and law firms to raise money on behalf of our legal aid programs and there is one way your firm can help the Campaign.

Many of our King County law firms, both large and small, have been particularly generous in the King County Law Firm Campaign for Equal Justice, a 10-year partnership with LAW Fund and the King County Bar Foundation. Last year, 112 firms joined in this campaign. Of these firms, 49 gave at the Champions of Justice level, giving at least $250 for every attorney at the firm.

The 2013 King County Law Firm C4EJ began on October 1 and concludes on December 31. This year there is a big push to get all pledges in by October 31 so we can ensure justice for those in need.

If every law firm in King County, including solos and small firms, as well as all of our judges, donates $250 for every attorney to the Campaign for Equal Justice, there would be more than $3 million to fund legal aid programs.

Who will your generosity help? You are encouraged to go to the C4EJ website - www.C4EJ.org - to watch and listen to the story of Melanie and Gary Abbot who, literally, would have lost their home as a result of a vacuum cleaner purchase had it not been for a civil legal aid lawyer coming to their rescue.

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