As summer is now underway in the Mid-Atlantic region, many people are preparing for the height of vacation season. Many other people – including legal industry professionals – are also preparing for the height of volunteer season. There are many ways one can give back to his/her community this summer (and indeed all year long). Whether in Washington, D.C., Baltimore or Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic is full of ways that lawyers and their staff can support local causes and enhance their communities’ well-being.
One way that many law firms have been able to give back to their local communities is to participate in Lawyers Have Heart (LHH). Lawyers and legal staff alike participate in their choice of a 10K run, a 5K run or a fun walk in support of the American Heart Association (AHA). This run/walk helps to raise awareness and funds for the AHA’s efforts to reduce heart disease, stroke and other cardio-related illness in the Greater Washington region.
Founded in 1991, this is an annual event that takes place in Washington Harbour in Georgetown. This year’s LHH occurred on Saturday, June 10 and included more than 6,000 participants – families and friends as well as lawyers and staff. Since its inception, LHH has raised more than $11 million for the AHA.
Nathan Darling and Karen Kushner Creel relax after this year’s Lawyers Have Heart. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Darling).
In addition to LHH, lawyers and legal staff throughout D.C. also contribute to the Legal Aid Society, an organization dedicated to providing legal services for those who live in poverty. Since the organization began in 1932, these services have included services related to domestic violence, housing, public benefits and consumer law. Law firms in the District help Legal Aid by supporting the Generous Associates Campaign – an annual fundraiser in which D.C.-based associates lead the charge at their respective firms. In 2016, the Campaign produced a record-breaking $1,475,000 in support of Legal Aid.
Another way that law firms and legal professionals have been able to give back to their communities is through Food from the Bar (FFTB), an annual event in which lawyers and staff raise funds and provide food in support of the Capital Area Food Bank. Since 2008, FFTB has provided more than two million meals to those in need throughout the Washington area – including children, the elderly and others in need.
FFTB allows participants to give in three ways – food, money and time (i.e., volunteer service). Every year the organization holds a competition with points awarded to those who give; awards are given to firms and individuals who rack up the most points. This year’s competition occurred between May 1 and June 2.
2015 Members of the LMA Capital Chapter Board of Directors box non-perishable items in support of Food from the Bar. (Photo courtesy of Helena Lawrence).
Of course, Washington, D.C. isn’t the only locale in the Mid-Atlantic where law firm employees are volunteering their efforts. In Baltimore, there have been a variety of ways to give back to the community. One such way was the Run for Justice, which occurred on June 10. Hosted by the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, the Run for Justice happened to provide free legal services for people in need.
Other ways that Baltimore law firms and legal staff legal give back to their local communities include the following:
- Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (which is running Art Law Clinics to provide free legal information to Maryland artists);
- Maryland Legal Aid (a non-profit firm which held a Pro Bono Day on May 8);
- Citizenship Law Related Education Program (which has provided educational opportunities to local youth, such as a mock trial high school competition and a summer law academy); and
- CASA of Baltimore (which provides services on behalf of foster children and held its Art of Caring fundraiser on April 30).
In Virginia, legal staff also have found several ways to contribute to their communities’ well-being. These ways include leading church youth groups in week-long camps to rehab houses for disadvantaged homeowners and perform other service projects. They also provide encouragement to middle and high schoolers by assisting them with projects that benefit animal organizations such as the Hanover Humane Society and BARK.
Additional ways that legal staff in Virginia have supported volunteer efforts is to – like their Washington and Baltimore counterparts – raise money for charitable causes. One such cause is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), which has raised funds through “Ride to Cure” bike rides in places such as Amelia Island, FL and Death Valley, CA. JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion in research funding since its inception and has made tremendous advancements and made the lives of those living with Type I diabetes more manageable.
Many of these organizations (as well as others) have programs going on not only in the summer but throughout the year. Please visit the websites of the organizations listed for more information – perhaps that could lead to some ideas on how to support a locally-based charitable cause.
By Adam Hopkins, Marketing Coordinator, Dechert LLP for the May/June 2017 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter