The Alliance
NJP Veterans Project


Low-income veterans across Washington now have an expanded NJP Veterans Project to help address the multitude of civil legal problems that prevent them from securing jobs, finding and keeping affordable housing, and ensuring they receive needed medical care and other benefits.  Starting this month, NJP has expanded its Veterans Project from one (1) to six (6) full time attorneys to provide legal assistance to veterans from offices in Spokane, Everett, Olympia Seattle, and Tacoma and will launch a dedicated toll-free number for veterans seeking legal assistance on November 1st.


Washington is home to more than 650,000 veterans, including a greater than ever population of women veterans.  A great number of veterans are dealing with difficulties transitioning to civilian life and the negative effects of sometimes multiple combat deployments, starting with the first Gulf War in 1990 through more recent deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.   


As a result of unaddressed civil legal problems, many veterans face multiple barriers to employment and stable housing, often involving the loss of their driver's licenses, debt and credit issues, and involvement with the criminal justice system as a result of untreated mental health conditions or chemical dependency arising during or as a result of military service.  Most estimates indicate that nearly 40% of post 9/11 veterans live with mild to disabling mental health conditions, including PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression, and/or alcohol or other substance abuse issues.  Often these at-risk veterans do not even know what medical treatment or benefits they may be eligible for, much less the availability of civil legal assistance necessary to secure care and overcome the barriers holding them back. 


WA Attorney Gen. Bob Ferguson

In order to practice law, every attorney must take an oath. In order to wear a uniform, every soldier, sailor, marine, and airman must also take an oath. The oaths themselves are strikingly similar - both include statements of support for the constitution and a promise to serve interests outside of one's self. Veterans serve and defend our country and our rule of law. The constitution and legal system our veterans took an oath to protect should serve them in return.


The legal community has a duty to ensure our veterans and military families know their legal rights and can access the resources they need. There are a number of laws granting unique protections and benefits to our veterans and military families, enacted in acknowledgment and appreciation of their service and sacrifice. Some of these laws alleviate certain civil obligations in order to help military personnel called to active duty focus on their mission. Other laws are intended to give a helping hand to veterans to advance their education or improve their vocational opportunities. These laws all recognize the sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform make in service to us. As lawyers, we must ensure that veterans and military personnel understand the rights they have.


Pro Bono Proclamation

The Equal Justice Coalition is excited to share two significant demonstrations of support to the Alliance for Equal Justice community. At the request of the Equal Justice Coalition, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and the Metropolitan King County Council proclaimed October 20-26, 2013 as Pro Bono Week!


On October 21, 2013, Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski and Reagan Dunn co-presented a proclamation, before a group of highly involved community leaders, in recognition of the critical role volunteer attorneys play in helping low-income people, who cannot afford legal representation, overcome civil legal issues.


"As an attorney in private practice I worked on a number of pro bono cases on behalf of domestic violence survivors," said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, the sponsor of the proclamation. "This firsthand experience gave me a deep appreciation for the tireless work done by pro bono attorneys, on behalf of our most vulnerable. Our justice system is better for everyone, as a result of their efforts and dedication." 


In 2012, over 67,000 hours of volunteer legal help was provided to over 20,000 people by Washington State attorneys.


Accepting the proclamation and speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Equal Justice community was Washington State Bar (WSBA) President Patrick Palace. Palace stated, "As an alliance, we are working towards ensuring access to justice positively impacts thousands of low-income people that require legal aid services to meet their basic human needs. The leadership that has come together for this special recognition represents the network that we've built to ensure that mission becomes reality."


Councilmember Chair Larry Gossett noted, "It was very enlightening to hear how many public and private firms and organizations, in a formalized way, provide pro bono funding and encourage all their members to give pro bono time. It became crystal clear on how valuable that is to the broader community."  Giving praise to the Equal Justice Coalition and the Alliance community for its holistic approach to resolving access to justice barriers and issues of inequality, Gossett stated, "It was really inspirational to hear that we have a partnership, a coalition of agencies, where you guys come together and talk about how you can be even more effective. Mr. Chairman, I don't think that there's any other local community or state that can say as much, so that us even more prouder that we were able to sponsor this special recognition for pro bono week."


You can watch the proclamation online by clicking on this link (listed under Item 6 of the agenda).


To read Councilmember Dembowski's press release about the proclamation, click here.


To read Governor Inslee's proclamation (pictured above), click here.

EJC Chairperson Testifying

During the months of September and October, six legal aid Alliance organizations and the Equal Justice Coalition testified at all four scheduled public hearings on King County Executive Dow Constantine's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget. The public hearings were held in Kent, North Bend, Bellevue, and Seattle.


Legal aid organizations that provided testimony, and that are supported through Executive Dow Constantine's proposed budget are Seattle Community Law Center, Unemployment Law Project, TeamChild, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Eastside Legal Assistance Program, and the Family Assistance Program at Solid Ground.


While we are thankful to be included in the Executive's proposed budget, we've continued to meet with Councilmembers to highlight the importance of investing in our services, which collectively ensures our most vulnerable people are protected.


The County's investment has enabled legal aid organizations to leverage support through unique partnerships that have resulted in a coordinated multiple entry point system for low-income people to gain access to the legal services they need.


Last year, the County's investment of half a million dollars to these six legal aid programs allowed them to leverage support from volunteer attorneys, yielding over 25,000 hours of pro bono help - a sizable return on investment of about $4 million to the county.


At a time when we've seen a decline in federal support, and state funding has remained stagnant, King County has stepped up its support for legal services.


The King County Council's Budget Leadership Team is currently in the process of budget deliberations. We expect the Council to announce their final proposal within two weeks. 




On the heels of a very busy summer, we have already gone full swing into the Fall Campaign Season. On October 1st, we successfully kicked-off the King County Joint Law Firm Campaign at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. In addition to reviewing the "nuts and bolts" and logistics of the Campaign, Committee members heard inspiring remarks by Lucy Lee Helm, General Counsel of Starbucks, and our very own C4EJ Statewide Co-Chair. Through the early action of 67 law firms (as of October 24, 2013), we have already raised $433,000 toward our $550,000 goal!

On Thursday, October 10th, we also kicked-off the inaugural Pierce County Law Firm Campaign (a joint effort with the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Foundation) at the Pacific Grill. At the event, our other C4EJ Statewide Co-Chair Justice Gerry Alexander spoke recognizing law firms that participated in the past Pledge Partnership Program (the predecessor to the Pierce County Law Firm Campaign). This event was a fun way to kick-off our Law Firm Campaign and we are so excited about the tremendous support that we are receiving from Pierce County.

Also, on October 15th, our Yakima board members hosted the first annual "Beer and Justice for All" event at Bale Breaker Brewery in Yakima. Thanks to Stokes Lawrence Velkanje Moore & Shore, Tamaki Law, and Thorner, Kennedy & Gano for their sponsorship of this event! The Yakima legal community came together and demonstrated their support for civil legal services, while enjoying a few beers in the process, raising $7,805. We also celebrated LAW Fund Board Member, Shawn Murphy and his recent award for Pro Bono Attorney of the Year from the American Bar Association's Family Law Section. We are so grateful to Shawn for his hours donated to pro bono work and his strong leadership in our community.

In addition to these events, phonathons have already taken place in Skagit County (3x more monies raised than 2012) and Chelan-Douglas County (6x more monies raised than 2012), Snohomish and Thurston Counties (results still coming in), and phonathons will take place in Spokane, Clark and Kitsap Counties. If you would like to volunteer to help out at any of these phonathons, please email Stephanie Watson. All donors that donate during the phonathon will be entered to win one free domestic airline ticket. Online donors can mention this in the note section and still be entered into this drawing.

All in all, at LAW Fund and the Campaign for Equal Justice we are diving into our most exciting time of the year. We are so incredibly grateful and humbled by our long-time donors who continue to include us in their charitable contributions year after year. We are also thrilled to accept so many gifts from first time donors this year, with 832 new donors so far in 2013. Your energy and support allows us to innovate and create new ways to reach out to Washington's legal community and help to make justice for all a reality in our state. Thank you to each and every one of you.  


The Legal Foundation's Goldmark Internship Program is named for Charles A. Goldmark, the Foundation's second president at his untimely death in January 1986. Chuck was a firm believer in, and a forceful advocate for, equal access to the justice system. The internship was created both as a tribute to Chuck and to encourage young lawyers to emulate his ardent commitment.


Unemployment Law Project (ULP) was selected as the 2014 host organization.


Marc Lampson, Unemployment Law Project Executive Director, expressed, "We're very honored to have been chosen to host the Goldmark Internship. Our work involves representing people who are denied unemployment benefits, and often they are people who are disproportionately affected by higher unemployment rates, including veterans and people of color; we also represent workers who are forced to quit jobs due to unsafe work conditions. Our program will offer the law student an opportunity to address inequities that prevent people from securing basic essentials -- food, safety, shelter, and justice." 


LFW Trustees will interview candidates late November and send a notification to all applicants by December 3rd.


For more information about the internship program, click here.


The Legal Foundation of Washington will present the 2014 Charles A. Goldmark Distinguished Service Award to Washington Supreme Court Justice Steven González and Seattle University School of Law Professor Robert Chang at the 28th Annual Goldmark Award Luncheon. The luncheon will be held Friday, February 21, 2014 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel between 12:00pm and 1:30 pm.


The nomination of Justice González and Professor Chang for their leadership roles on the Race & the Criminal Justice System Task Force emphasized the effort to mobilize the community to initiate change concerning racial disparity in the justice system. The Legal Foundation of Washington Board also acknowledges the shared vision of the Task Force members who helped bring this issue to light.


The LFW is also very pleased to announce that the 2014 President's Award will be presented to Legal Voice. For 35 years, Legal Voice has been committed to advancing legal rights and justice through the law. Legal Voice provides consistently high quality representation to a broad range of individuals and groups on such important topics as sexual and domestic violence, marriage equality, reproductive rights, and equal pay.

Click here to register!


The Alliance for Equal Justice is a network of organizations working collaboratively to ensure all people have access to justice in Washington State.
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