During a reception in Washington Thursday evening, 23 law firms were recognized for donating $3 million to local legal service providers as part of the inaugural fundraiser of "Raising the Bar in D.C."
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. was the keynote speaker during the event, hosted by the District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission at Crowell & Moring’s Pennsylvania Avenue office.
“You’ve made remarkable strides toward closing the justice gap and protecting the basic rights of the most vulnerable members of our society,” Holder said to the crowd. “Particularly in this time of unprecedented economic challenges – when government agencies have been asked to accomplish more with less and funding for legal services is increasingly scarce – the obstacles we face have been brought into stark focus.”
Holder said that the initiative serves as a model for similar programs across the country and that Washington leads by example.
“Your generosity is providing critical aid to minors, victims of domestic violence and families facing eviction,” Holder said. “It’s helping to safeguard the health, the well-being and the constitutional rights of countless individuals.”
The donor firms were broken down into three categories: platinum, gold and silver level. In the platinum circle are Delaney McKinney; Jones Day; Kirkland & Ellis; Klein Hornig; the Law Offices of Gary N. Horlick; Morrison & Foerster Foundation; Sutherland Asbill & Brennan; and Zuckerman Spaeder. Gold level donors include Arnold & Porter; Covington & Burling; Crowell & Moring; Mayer Brown; McKenna Long & Aldridge; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Silver level donors include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Arent Fox; Banner & Witcoff; BuckleySandler; DLA Piper; Jenner & Block; McDermott Will & Emery; Sidley Austin; and Steptoe & Johnson.
“The law community here leads the nation in its contribution to access to legal justice,” said Peter Edelman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He said that although firms were generous in their donations, the recession has created a greater need for legal services at a time when funding is being slashed.
“We are proud to be a part of this campaign,” said Susan Hoffman, Crowell’s public service partner. “It reflects our longstanding commitment to access to justice.”