Lawyers in WilmerHale's Washington DC office raised $135,000 for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia's annual Generous Associates Campaign, a fundraiser run by associates at DC law firms each summer. This year's campaign, which ran from June 1 to July 31, netted a record $1.79 million for the organization. That sum will cover more than a quarter of Legal Aid's budget for the coming year.
“This is an unbelievable organization that has earned the support that it gets from the law firm community,” said Partner Seth Waxman, who served as this year's honorary city-wide campaign chair. “It's the legal aid organization that is setting the standard for others.”
WilmerHale raised the second highest amount of donations of any participating firm this year, and was one of only three firms to raise six figures for the campaign. Legal Aid individually recognized 43 WilmerHale non-partners for giving $285 or more each.
Rallying the Partnership for Friendly Competition
This year's firm fundraising team was led by Associates Kevin Gallagher and Nicole Callan—who were also on last year's team—and included Associates Chris Asta, Claire Bergeron, Zoe Jones, Cadene Russell and Anuradha Sivaram.
“The firm has participated in the Generous Associates Campaign for more than a decade, and we knew we had big shoes to fill this year with Seth as the honorary chair,” says Callan. “Our strategy was to involve everyone at the firm, and to rely on the usual suspects—partners who have contributed in the past—to come up with creative fundraising challenges.”
More Than Just a Fundraiser—a Community Builder
Each year, Legal Aid helps thousands of DC residents facing homelessness, domestic violence, and limited access to unemployment and other public benefits.
“Legal Aid does tremendously important work. We can't begin to describe the impact of our commitment on the organization,” says Russell. “From helping to preserve safe and affordable housing to helping survivors of domestic violence—without support from so many firms around the district, many of Legal Aid's clients would have little to no access to justice.”
Adds Gallagher: “We try to keep in perspective why we are doing this. Many of us individually do pro bono work with Legal Aid, but this is the one time each year when we come together as a firm so people in our community can get the legal services they would not otherwise be able to afford. And while the competition is fun, what truly matters is that, at the end of the day, whether it's coming from WilmerHale or any other firm, this money is helping people who really need it and going to an organization that does impactful work.”
Over the past five years, contributions to Legal Aid have steadily increased, nearly doubling since 2012. “It's a testament to the critical work Legal Aid does year after year and the continued commitment of law firms like WilmerHale,” says Russell. “One of the great things about working here is that the people understand the importance of providing legal representation throughout our communities. It has been extremely fulfilling to come together to support that mission and to uplift others.”