The 2022 Raising the Bar in DC reporting form is due on March 15, 2023. Participating firms are contacted directly and provided with a form to complete and submit online. If preferred, forms may also be submitted via e-mail. (Form is available in PDF and Word.) Feel free to share with prospective firms, and thanks in advance for your help in allowing us to identify firms to recognize in this annual campaign!

Read below for more information about the campaign and how to get involved! Even though we are currently collecting 2022 reporting information, NOW is the time to ensure your 2023 charitable giving budget is sufficient to qualify for the 2023 Campaign (with contributions to be reported in 2024). To learn more about calculating how much your firm will need to contribute to qualify, please reach out to the Commission, view our FAQ document, or look at our sample reporting form.

The D.C. Access to Justice Commission is pleased to honor the thirty-four firms that qualified for the Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign in 2021. Participating firms donated $7.2 million (an all-time campaign record) to local legal services providers to meet critical legal needs that have only been heightened by the pandemic. The need to provide financial support for civil legal aid remains critical as District residents continue to face life-altering, years-long consequences of the pandemic. 

Please review our list of 2021 Leadership Circle Firms HERE

Press Release HERE.

FAQ: 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. Fast forward to 2019, when 44 law firms joined the Campaign and gave $6.3 million – a $3.2 million aggregate increase since the participating firms first joined the campaign. Even with the impact of COVID-19, the 37 firms that participated in 2020 donated over $5.6M to eligible legal services organizations, and in 2021, 34 firms donated an all-time campaign record of $7.2 million.

What were the results of the 2021 campaign?

The 2021 Raising the Bar Campaign saw giving of $7.2 million by the 34 Leadership Circle firms – nearly a $4.4 million cumulative increase for these participating firms since the year that they first joined the Campaign. See the List of our 2021 Leadership Circle firms. The Commission honors 22 firms at the Platinum level, 9 at the Gold level, and 3 at the Silver level. See a Press Release on the 2021 Campaign.

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

YearNo. of FirmsAggregate DonationsAggregate Increase Since Firms First Joined

How does the Commission recognize Leadership Circle firms?

The Commission has traditionally held a recognition ceremony to honor the Raising the Bar in DC Leadership Circle firms. The ceremony is attended by leaders in the District’s legal community as well as government leaders. Past speakers at this annual 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. Due to the pandemic, the Commission was unable to hold an in-person event for our 2019 and 2020 Leadership Circle firms. For 2021, we look forward to recognizing our Leadership Circle firms through social media and other outreach.

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 may simply track their giving throughout the year and report their giving 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.