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D.C. Access to Justice Commission Honors 39 Firms in Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign

June 12, 2024

On June 11 the D.C. Access to Justice Commission recognized 39 firms that donated $6.6 million in 2023 to organizations serving low- and moderate-income District residents during the commission’s signature Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign.

The firms, which qualified for the campaign’s Leadership Circle, are being honored for donating a benchmark percentage of their D.C. office revenue to local legal services organizations that assist vulnerable residents facing life-altering legal needs.

“The leadership of D.C. law firms is crucial in helping guarantee access to justice in the District,” said Peter B. Edelman, chair of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, in a press release. “These essential funds directly support D.C. legal services organizations that ensure that thousands of District residents have access to free, expert legal help. These services are a critical safety net that keeps residents in their homes, preserves their incomes, supports youth, and protects them against violence, abuse, and fraud. These legal services make our communities stronger.”

The commission launched the Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign in 2010 to set a standard for area law firms to aspire to when giving to civil legal services organizations. The campaign recognizes firms at three levels — platinum, gold, and silver — for donating .11 percent, .09 percent, and .075 percent of their D.C. office revenue, respectively.

Giving by the private bar through the campaign not only complements and incentivizes the D.C. government’s public appropriation for legal services through the Access to Justice Initiative, but it also reflects the bar’s confidence in the work of the local legal services community, according to the commission.

“The enduring commitment of D.C. law firms to supporting our civil justice system has resulted in a robust public–private partnership, and we will continue to work together toward ensuring all D.C. residents, regardless of income, have access to justice,” Edelman said.

A core mission of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission is to encourage funding for local civil legal services. “The increasing cost of living, economic stressors, and lingering social and economic effects from the pandemic continue to exact a disproportionate toll on the District’s low-income communities and make legal services more expensive to provide,” said James J. Sandman, vice chair of the commission. “Legal services create opportunity, but demand remains higher than supply and is still growing, especially for help with housing and domestic violence, among other areas.”

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