Congratulations to the 2023 Leadership Circle!

The D.C Access to Justice Commission is pleased to honor 39 firms that qualified for the Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign through their giving in 2023. Participating firms donated $6.6 million in crucial funding to local legal services providers. These organizations serve low- and moderate-income District residents facing life-altering legal needs – keeping them in their homes, with their families, and safely within their communities. The demand for these services continues to grow, as does the cost of offering these services due to rising operational expenses.

Please review our list of 2023 Leadership Circle Firms HERE

Law 360 Coverage: DC Firms Honored For Local Legal Services Donations

Press release HERE

Please also see the Commission’s social media (Twitter and Linkedin) for the announcement and recognition of qualifying firms!

Planning for 2024?

New to the campaign? New firms join each year. Prospective and returning firms should reach out to Commission Staff Attorney Diana Sisson ( for further information.



More Information and History on Raising the Bar in D.C.: A Funding Campaign for Legal Services

What is the role of law firms in supporting civil legal services?

District law firms are among the most generous in the nation in providing pro bono and financial support for legal services. Because of this tradition of engagement, law firms are a crucial part of the legal services delivery system and valued partners in access to justice efforts. Despite this commitment, too many vulnerable District residents are forced to navigate the legal system alone, even when those things they most value are in jeopardy. There is no doubt that COVID-19 and the aftermath of a weakened economy has widened the justice gap. Even before the recession, the legal services network was able to meet only a fraction of the need. Even in good economic times, the legal services network is chronically underfunded and lacks the capacity to meet the critical legal needs of the District’s indigent residents.

What is the Raising the Bar in DC Campaign?

To meet the urgent need for increased funding for legal services, the D.C. Access to Justice Commission formally launched the Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign in December 2010, with the endorsement of the D.C. Bar Foundation and the D.C. Bar. The Campaign’s goal is to substantially increase financial support to the District’s legal services community by establishing benchmarks for law firm giving and annually recognizing and celebrating those firms that have donated at benchmark levels. A Leadership Circle of eight leading law firms — Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Covington & Burling LLP, Crowell & Moring LLP, DLA Piper LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP (now Eversheds Sutherland) — joined in the launch of the Campaign by pledging to donate funds to local legal services providers at a benchmark level in 2011 and by joining the Commission in an appeal to the law firm community. Twenty–three firms ultimately joined the Campaign for 2011, together donating over $3 million to local legal services organizations. This represented over a half-million dollar increase in giving by those firms over 2010 levels. The Campaign has continued to grow, with 39 participating firms contributing $6.6 million in 2023. 

What were the results of the 2023 campaign?

The 2023 Raising the Bar Campaign saw giving of $6.6 million by the 39 Leadership Circle firms – nearly a $3.5 million cumulative increase for these participating firms since the year that they first joined the Campaign. See the List of our 2023 Leadership Circle firms. The Commission honors 22 firms at the Platinum level, 8 at the Gold level, and 9 at the Silver level. See a press release for the 2022 campaign.

What is the history of the Raising the Bar in DC Campaign?

Year No. of Firms Aggregate Donations Aggregate Increase Since Firms First Joined
2011 23 $2,938,194 $505,969
2012 36 $3,585,772 $777,944
2013 43 $4,071,380 $1,234,451
2014 48 $5,150,978 $2,241,149
2015 46 $4,985,971 $1,986,015
2016 47 $5,481,436 $2,496,480
2017 48 $5,574,036 $2,636,965
2018 43 $5,988,631 $3,060,467
2019 44 $6,335,658 $3,244,744
2020 37 $5,641,266 $2,937,722
2021 34 $7,232,610 $4,384,388
2022 40 $7,371,204 $4,118,405

How does the Commission recognize Leadership Circle firms?

The Commission has traditionally either done a public release or, on occasion, held a recognition ceremony to honor the Raising the Bar in DC Leadership Circle firms. The ceremony has been attended by leaders in the District’s legal community as well as government leaders. Past speakers at this event include D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, Attorney General Eric Holder, Judge David Tatel, Mayor Vincent Gray, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chair Catherine E. Lhamon. The Commission has highlighted firms through social media and a media campaign since the 2019 Leadership Circle 

How do law firms join the Raising the Bar in DC Campaign?

The Commission works year-round to enlist new firms to join the Campaign. The Campaign urges all law firms and solo practitioners in the District, regardless of their size, to give generously to local legal services providers at one of three levels:

Platinum:   .11% of D.C. office revenue
Gold:   .09% of D.C. office revenue
Silver:   .075% of D.C. office revenue

Because the benchmark is set as a percentage of revenue, the tiers are equally accessible by firms of all sizes. Cash donations, donated attorney’s fees, and payments for fellowships sponsored by the firm are all included. Because the Campaign is focused on the local crisis in legal services, only contributions to organizations that operate in D.C. and have as a core mission the provision of civil legal services to low-income or underserved District residents are considered in meeting the base benchmark level. The Commission recognizes that law firms make critical contributions to a range of other organizations and urges them to sustain funding to those entities at traditional levels. However, this initiative is intended to reflect the unique obligation that lawyers have to ensure equal access to justice for low-income individuals, and to encourage firms to support the local communities in which they are located.

For more information please click on the following links to learn more: list of participating firms by yearinitial appeal letter from Leadership CircleFrequently Asked Questionslist of eligible recipients organizations and media coverage.

Note: For those providing financial support in calendar year 2022 and beyond, firms should track their own giving and report it during the reporting cycle early in the next calendar year (pledge forms are not required).

For more information, or to join the Campaign, please reach out to the Commission.