• Our Approach

    Our Approach

DCBF works hand-in-hand with DC’s legal aid community to understand the legal issues facing DC’s poorest residents and how to solve these issues so that every individual, regardless of income, has access to justice. We invest in DC’s proven and emerging legal aid organizations that tackle these issues head-on using innovative means, such as court-based projects and medical-legal partnerships. We provide 360 degrees of support to these organizations by funding their staff attorneys and leadership, evaluating and improving their operations and finances, and creating opportunities for professional development. This support is funneled through three programs: grants, poverty lawyer loan repayment assistance, and training and technical assistance. In addition, the Foundation is honored each year to recognize an outstanding member of DC’s legal aid community with the Jerrold Scoutt Prize.

Read more about our 360-degree approach below.


Grant Programs

The DC Bar Foundation awards grants to DC-based 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that provide free civil legal aid to low-income DC residents through two annual grant programs: the DC Legal Services Grants Program, awarded in June each year, and the Access to Justice Grants Program, awarded in March each year. Through these two programs, DCBF has awarded over $50 million in funding for general and project support to DC legal aid organizations, which provide free legal assistance to more than 30,000 low-income residents each year. Additionally, DCBF has received one-time funding from two bank settlements to support legal assistance in the areas of foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment…Learn more.

Poverty Lawyer Loan Repayment Assistance Program

DCBF runs an annual loan repayment assistance program (LRAP). Attorneys working on behalf of low-income DC residents at an eligible employer can receive LRAP, which is a forgivable, one-year loan to help pay the attorneys’ educational loans. LRAP enables DC legal aid organizations to recruit and retain qualified staff attorneys, who would otherwise be unable to continue their critical work because of six-figure educational debt. Since 2007, DCBF has awarded nearly $2.3 million to 190 public interest lawyers…Learn more.

Training and Technical Assistance

DCBF provides additional support to DC-based civil legal aid organizations through trainings and technical assistance. DCBF not only sponsors multiple trainings for DC’s legal aid organizations every year, but also pays the tuition fee for their staff attorneys to attend select legal skills trainings offered by other organizations in DC. In regards to technical assistance, DCBF provides one-time funding for peer evaluations and consultants when needed by grantees. Additionally, DCBF covers the cost of hosting two important DC-based websites: probono.net/dc (resources for pro bono attorneys) and lawhelp.org (resources for pro se representation).

Jerrold Scoutt Award

The Foundation administers the prestigious Jerrold Scoutt Award, established by the firm of Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, in honor of the public interest commitment of one of its founding partners, Jerrold Scoutt, Jr. Given annually, the Scoutt Award recognizes a full-time legal services lawyer who has demonstrated a career-long compassionate concern for his or her clients while exhibiting a high degree of skill representing them…Learn more.