DC Bar Foundation Awards $615,000 to Civil Legal Services Providers in the District

[District of Columbia, June 10, 2015] — The DC Bar Foundation awarded $615,000 in FY15 DC Legal Services Grants to 22 organizations that provide civil legal services to underserved, low-income residents of the District of Columbia.

The Foundation has awarded nearly $24 million in private grants to DC civil legal services providers since 1978. Grant money comes from the interest earned on trust accounts, as well as private contributions, primarily through the Call to Action campaign, chaired this year by Thomas S. Williamson Jr., Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP, and Stasia Kelly, Co-Managing Partner at DLA Piper LLP.

DC Bar Foundation Awards $3,865,000 to Fund Civil Legal Services for the Poor

[District of Columbia, March 11, 2015] — The DC Bar Foundation today announced the FY15 recipients of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grant Program, which awards grants to nonprofit legal services organizations that provide direct civil legal services to low-income DC residents. A total of $3,865,000 was awarded to 24 projects, of which five are new projects.

Funded by a grant from the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services (OVS), the ATJ Grant Program funds projects in three categories: (a) underserved areas; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) a shared legal services interpreter bank. The Foundation awarded 19 grants in the underserved areas category, totaling $2,555,000; four grants in the housing-related matters category, totaling $1,040,000; and one grant to the shared legal services interpreter bank, totaling $270,000.

Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council Calls for Applications

[District of Columbia, Mar. 6, 2015] — The Young Lawyers Network (YLN) Leadership Council offers younger lawyers an opportunity to further the goal of access to justice in our community by working with the Bar Foundation—the leading funder of civil legal services for the District’s underserved.

The Bar Foundation will add several new members for a two-year term expiring June 30, 2017. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 1, 2015.

Kathryn M. Doan of Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition to Receive Scoutt Prize

[District of Columbia, Jan. 26, 2015] — The District of Columbia Bar Foundation (DCBF) has selected Kathryn M. Doan, Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, as the recipient of the 2015 Jerrold Scoutt Prize.

The prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct hands-on legal services to the needy in the District of Columbia, has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients, and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.

DC Bar Foundation Now Accepting Applications for FY15 Access to Justice Grant Program

[District of Columbia, Jan. 16, 2015] — The DC Bar Foundation released the FY15 Access to Justice Grant application for DC civil legal services providers seeking project funding. The application is due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 30, 2015, with awards announced mid-March 2015.

The DC Bar Foundation will award grants to nonprofit legal services providers located in the District of Columbia to fund direct civil legal services to low-income DC residents in the following three areas: (a) underserved areas of the District of Columbia; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) to support a shared legal services interpreter bank.

Board recruitment and support: Five tips from a bar foundation executive director – Bar Leader, Vol. 39 No. 3 (Jan-Feb 2015)

If you’re an executive director or staff member, how can you attract and assist great board members for your bar foundation? And if you’re a bar foundation board member or leader, what does it take to succeed? Here, Kirra L. Jarratt, executive director of the District of Columbia Bar Foundation, shares her tips. In a companion article, David J. Duncan, president of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, offers his perspective. The two spoke together on this topic at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the National Conference of Bar Foundations, in Boston.

1. Consider less traditional sources.

Most board recruitment begins with a list of friends and colleagues with whom we work or serve on other boards. We then might identify donors who serve in leadership positions themselves. But there are other pools of talent that can bring new perspectives and diversity to the board recruitment process.

One very successful effort is the United Way’s Emerging Leaders program. Young professionals who are focused on their community and leadership development make a one-year commitment to serve on the board of a local nonprofit. During that year, they receive board training from the United Way, and the board and the potential candidate have an opportunity to evaluate whether it’s a good fit.

Another rich pool of potential board members are bar leadership academies. The DC Bar offers theJohn A. Payton Leadership Academy. Participants include new associates and veteran attorneys who want to enhance their leadership skills. We have graduates of this program among our leadership.

Finally, there are groups like Compass. This organization serves the greater Washington and Philadelphia metro areas. It brings together business professionals to provide pro bono consulting to nonprofits in matters like board development and strategic planning. Over the course of one or two years, you work with a team of six to eight people, one of whom might make a great board candidate at the end of the project.

If your bar has a leadership academy, make sure to tap into it as a potential source of new bar foundation board members—and look into whether your locale has an organization like Compass.

2. Recruit early.

Board recruitment requires a significant investment of time. It should be something on which the board is focused throughout the year so that time can be spent identifying strong candidates, discussing their interest in the board, inviting them to signature events where they have an opportunity to learn more about the organization, and educating them about the responsibilities of board members.

3. Be strategic.

In identifying candidates, thought should be given to the current strengths and weaknesses of the board, as well as the timing of future vacancies. Who is cycling off the board this year? In the next few years? Does the board need someone with a financial background? Communications experience? Familiarity with the grantee community? Or development expertise? Do we have diversity with respect to things like age, practice area, and practice size?

Thought should also be given to who can (and is willing to) assume an officer or committee chair position in years to come. Succession planning is critical to the longevity of the organization.

4. Consider philosophy.

While it’s critically important to have board members who are committed to the mission of the organization, it’s equally important to have board members who believe in investing in the organization itself in order to further that mission.

One of my favorite TED Talks is by social entrepreneur Dan Pallotta. Pallotta says:

“We’ve all been taught that charities should spend as little as possible on overhead things like fundraising under the theory that, well, the less money you spend on fundraising, the more money there is available for the cause. Well, that’s true if it’s a depressing world in which this pie cannot be made any bigger.

“But if it’s a logical world in which investment in fundraising actually raises more funds and makes the pie bigger, then we have it precisely backwards, and we should be investing more money—not less—in fundraising, because fundraising is the one thing that has the potential to multiply the amount of money available for the cause that we care about so deeply.”

Investments in staff and infrastructure are vital.

5. Onboard well.

At the DC Bar Foundation, we provide each new board member with an orientation that gives more detail about our programs, funding sources, and structure. Through the back end of the website, we also give them access to archives of past meetings, organizational bylaws and policies; background materials on our programs and activities; contact information for leadership and staff; committee assignments; and links to other resources like NCBF and the National Association of IOLTA Programs.

We want to make sure that all our board members feel comfortable hitting the ground running from the very beginning of the year, particularly since the first board meeting does not occur until the end of the first quarter.

Whatever your board’s meeting schedule, a good, thorough orientation will help save precious time—for the work of the board, and for all of its busy members.

DC Bar Foundation Awards Over $319,000 to FY15 Loan Repayment Assistance Program Applicants

[District of Columbia, Dec. 17, 2014] — The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) announced the recipients of its two loan repayment assistance programs (LRAP) for FY15. More than $319,000 was awarded to 69 civil legal services lawyers, who provide direct civil legal services to low-income, underserved DC residents. They will receive an interest-free loan from DCBF to help pay their monthly student loan payments from January to December 2015, at which time these interest-free loans will be forgiven.

Board President Marc Fleischaker, Chair Emeritus of Arent Fox LLP, said, “The Bar Foundation is extremely pleased that we are able to help attorneys continue in their careers as poverty lawyers. There is a critical need for lawyers willing to work in the public interest for less money than they would otherwise make, and when we can help bring access to justice to lower income individuals, the entire community benefits.”

Since 2007, DCBF has run two loan repayment assistance programs: the DC Poverty Lawyer Loan Repayment Assistance Program (DC LRAP) and the DC Bar Foundation LRAP (DCBF LRAP).

“The goal of LRAP is to enable DC legal services providers to recruit and retain talented lawyers to work on behalf of the District’s low-income, underserved residents. This year, we had a 30 percent increase in LRAP applications from last year, which means there are now more lawyers to provide direct civil legal services to those DC residents most in need,” said Imoni Washington, Director of Programs of the DC Bar Foundation.

The DC LRAP is funded by the Council of the District of Columbia for law school loan repayment assistance to lawyers who live and work in DC. At the direction of the Council, and pursuant to a grant agreement with the District of Columbia’s Office of Victim Services, DCBF lends its expertise to the District by identifying, awarding, and monitoring DC LRAP. The DCBF LRAP has no residency requirement, although all participants must work in the District. Private contributions, revenue from the Go Formal gala and the Go Casual city-wide denim event, and interest on certain trust accounts fund the DCBF LRAP.

For both loan repayment assistance programs, the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP provides a team of volunteer paralegals and lawyers to assist with the application process, administration, and monitoring.

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Bar Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants and training and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to D.C. poverty lawyers to help with their educational debt.

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DC Bar Foundation Sponsors NITA Training for DC’s Public Interest Lawyers

The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) and the DC Bar Courts, Lawyers and Administration of Justice Section and Litigation Section co-sponsored a four-day National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) basic litigation skills training, from October 22 to October 25, 2014. Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan LLP generously donated its state-of-the-art conference space to host the training and lent its events and facilities staff to assist with logistics. Twenty-four public interest lawyers from 15 legal service providers attended the training, which was graciously discounted by NITA.

This is the second time that DCBF has hosted a NITA training, which provides public interest attorneys with direct, hands-on training to improve their litigation and advocacy skills. Kelly White, Staff Attorney at Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, said, “The NITA program pushes you to think on your feet in a wonderful way. The instructors are captivating and offer clear ways to enhance trial practice. I am now a stronger advocate for the immigrant families and asylum seekers that CAIR Coalition serves.”

Six experienced volunteer instructors led lectures and workshops over the first three days, with mock trials taking place on the fourth day. Additionally, 12 volunteers from five local law schools assisted with the training’s day-of logistics. Three DC judges joined the volunteer instructors to preside over the mock trials, while the volunteer instructors gave critiques to the participants.

The NITA training is one of many that the Foundation organizes and sponsors for attorneys working at legal services providers as part of DCBF’s training and technical assistance program. “We are thrilled with this opportunity for two of our very talented, new attorneys,” said Daniel Bruner, Director of Legal Services at Whitman-Walker Health. “NITA trainings are renowned but ordinarily beyond our limited financial means. Thanks to the generosity of the Bar Foundation, DC Bar, Sutherland and NITA, our clients will benefit from our attorneys’ enhanced advocacy skills.”

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Bar Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants and training and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to D.C. poverty lawyers to help with their educational debt.

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