Each year the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia holds The Generous Associates Campaign, a fundraiser run by associates in Washington, DC. This year, over 110 associates at over 60 law firms participated in what has become a hallmark of summer in Washington in the legal community. Needless to say, Legal Aid was holding its breath when we started the campaign as associates all across the country have been hit hard in the economic realities of 2009. We knew that we would probably not hit our record breaking 2008 level, but where would we end up? Today we answered that question and are proudly able to announce that the campaign raised $675,000.
Raising $675,000 this year is remarkable. Even more remarkable when you realize that almost 80% of donations come from individuals and that 1,450 associates personally donated to this campaign. We also get terrific support from the partners, counsels, staff attorneys and non-attorneys, too. Many firms run matching challenges that motivate their employees to give. Although run by associates, the entire spectrum of the law firm community gets involved.
What does this say about associates in Washington, DC? It says that despite the staffing reductions, cuts in salary, and a general uncertainty about what the future of the law firm industry will look like, associates in Washington are unbelievably generous. It must be noted that the average gift of this constituency went down an insignificant 3%. It also says that they understand the importance of providing legal representation for the city’s poorest residents who would otherwise suffer devastating outcomes if unrepresented.
I would be remiss if I did not recognize the significance that partners now play in the Generous Associates Campaign. A major factor in the increasing success of this campaign has been the associate’s ability to engage their firm’s partners. Although associates easily outpace partners in the number of gifts given, partner giving on average is significantly higher. In fact, the average partner gift this year increased over the record setting amount from last year. Partners are also able to leverage other partners to give, induce the firm to match, challenge entire practice groups, and generally lead by example.
Legal Aid is truly humbled each year by the incredible outpouring of support it receives from the law firm community and others in the Washington metropolitan area. One of the great opportunities in becoming a lawyer is the ability to help ensure that there is access to justice for all people. I can’t think of a better example that demonstrates that core principal of the legal profession than the Generous Associates Campaign.
Legal Aid would like to thank everyone that gave this year to the campaign. Special thanks to the Associates Campaign Co-Chairs and Firm Coordinators for their heroic efforts, as well as Melvin White, former DC Bar President, who took on the role of Honorary Chair this year. We can’t do it without you!