Posts Tagged ‘Issue 40 (November 2019)’

Letter From the CEO

Your support for DC Bar Foundation makes a life-changing difference for neighbors in need of legal aid. And during this season, I feel especially thankful for it. 

When I hear from one of you, I’m reminded how much our work together means to each of us individually and to our community collectively – all year long.

These are the words of Ellen Jakovic:

“When I give to the DC Bar Foundation, I know that my donation will help provide vital legal services to low-income residents in our community – and also training and student loan repayment assistance to legal aid attorneys in the District.

Everyone, regardless of income, deserves access to effective legal assistance. The DC Bar Foundation is working to make this goal a reality.

Ellen is a longtime donor to DCBF. She has also given volunteer service as a Board member since 2014, has served on and led several leadership committees, and has been a dedicated volunteer solicitor for our annual Call to Action. A partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Ellen has engaged her firm as a loyal supporter of Call to Action, as well as Go Causal for Justice and Lip Sync for Justice – all of which bring our community together around our common goal: Equal access to justice for every District resident.

I know that you, like Ellen, care deeply about the nearly 110,000 DC residents living in poverty.

Paying for the services of an attorney is often not possible when one of these neighbors needs protection from an abusive partner. Or is about to be evicted from their home. Or is denied disability benefits as a veteran.

Your generosity provides the legal help that protects homes, health, safety, employment, and education for thousands of families and individuals across the District. Without your support, their outcomes would be unthinkable.

With deep gratitude, I wish you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season.


Kirra L. Jarratt
Chief Executive Officer

Partner Profile: Ashley James

Each month we highlight an individual working to make the justice system more accessible to DC residents. This month features Ashley James, Associate General Counsel, Labor & Employment at Facebook, member of the Foundation’s Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council, and Co-Chair of the 2020 Lip Sync for Justice event.


Associate General Counsel, Labor & Employment

Years on the Job




Where did you grow up?

Washington, DC

What brought you to DC?

It’s my hometown!

What was your first job in DC and what did you learn?

A summer internship at a federal agency while in high school. I mostly took away the basics of being a working person – how to conduct myself in a work environment and interact with others, what it meant to go to work every day, how to navigate the metro, etc. It was very helpful in learning how to be more than just a student.

Favorite App

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp of course!

Favorite Movie

Pretty Woman

Favorite Restaurant

Pearl Dive or Compass Rose

Favorite Vacation Spot

A beach with clear water

Guilty Pleasure

Wendy Williams’ Hot Topics

One Item from your Bucket List

To visit every country – or at least 100

You get to paint a mural on the side of the White House. What do you paint?

“Enjoy the Journey”

Biggest failure and what you learned

Being overwhelmed helped me to say no.

Legal aid is important to me because…

It gives voices to many who are unheard.

The most pressing civil legal aid issue in DC is…

Equal access and knowledge for everyone.

Remembering Donald R. Dunner, Friend of the DC Bar Foundation

Last month, Washington DC’s legal community lost a legend. Donald R. Dunner, partner at Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner LLP, passed away at age 88.

In addition to his storied and successful career as a renowned patent attorney, Don was a lifelong friend and advisor to the DC Bar Foundation. He served on the Foundation’s Advisory Committee since 1992 and as Chair of the Committee for the past 10 years. Don was also a steadfast financial supporter of the Foundation for more than 25 years.

Paul Smith, former President of the DC Bar Foundation, recently shared these words about Don:

“Don Dunner was two things to me. First, he was the dean of the appellate patent bar, and thus a formidable competitor for us appellate specialists who hoped to gain a slice of the patent appeals heard by the Federal Circuit. Second, he was the single most dedicated fundraising volunteer that we had at the DC Bar Foundation. He was absolutely dedicated to making sure the Foundation had the funds it needed to help fund legal services for the poor in DC. We will miss his cheerful enthusiasm.”

The DC Bar Foundation is extremely grateful for Don’s support of the Foundation and DC’s civil legal aid community, and for his friendship. We offer our condolences to all those who knew him. If you would like to make a gift to the Foundation in Don’s memory, you may do so here. Please include your short tribute to Don in the “Public Posted Comments” section on our donation form.

Funding Critical Needs

General Support grants are critical in supporting nonprofits who serve our neighbors. Grantees often share how much they appreciate our General Support grants, which can be used to cover operating expenses for organizations providing free civil legal services in the District. 

While these grants are small compared to our Access to Justice or Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program awards, they fill critical expense gaps that are otherwise difficult to fund – from rent and utilities, to technology maintenance, or even new office furniture. As we all know, these are vital, practical needs without which organizations cannot sustain their good work.

Funds for our General Support grants come from private fundraising, and the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.

Last year, we awarded a first-time General Support grant to a new organization connecting with their community through outreach in local churches. Because this was their first General Support grant from the Foundation, they were thrilled at the possibilities this new funding provided:

“Now we will be able to send staff to a conference they’ve been eager to attend, which we wouldn’t have been able to approve this year. We know that paying for operational expenses doesn’t sound as exciting as providing direct services – but it makes a huge difference to us in our ability to provide those services well.”

We value our partnerships with our grantees and count on their feedback. This year, the DC Bar Foundation reduced midyear reporting requirements, making it even easier for grantees to focus on the real work: providing clients with the critical services that make a difference in their lives.