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07/18/2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Contact: Beth Huffman

Phone: 215-238-6340


Raising the Bar Campaign Reaches 100 Law Firm Mark

PHILADELPHIA – Dilworth Paxson LLP recently became the 100th Philadelphia law firm to commit to the Raising the Bar campaign, a joint effort by the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Philadelphia Bar Foundation to increase funding for Philadelphia public interest law centers.

"Richardson Dilworth, a great lawyer and public servant, encouraged a tradition of public service. We are pleased to join with our colleagues in other firms to support this organized effort of the Philadelphia Bar Association," said Joseph H. Jacovini, Chairman of Dilworth Paxson LLP.

The 100 firms represent 4,438 attorneys and $1,411,170 in pledges, a 25.1% increase over the 2005 levels of giving to the Foundation and its grantees. A total of 29 firms which had not previously given to the Foundation and its grantees are among the 100 committed to the Raising the Bar campaign. These 29 firms have pledged $42,000.

The campaign was initiated this year by Alan M. Feldman, the 79th Chancellor of the Association. Each firm has made a pledge of at least $300 per attorney in its Philadelphia office, with a number of firms committing to as much as $400.

“We are grateful to every one of the firms who have joined our "Raising the Bar" campaign, and delighted that a firm with the legacy of the Dilworth is the 100th to come on board. Philadelphia law firms are proving that support for legal services for the indigent runs wide and deep in our community; we are well on our way to achieving the highest level of support, from the largest number of firms, ever achieved in our city. We look forward to Raising the Bar with the next 100 Philadelphia firms,” Feldman said.
The 100 firms making commitments to the campaign represent numerous solo practitioners, small and medium-sized firms and up to the city’s largest law firms, including 23 of the 25 largest firms as listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2006 Book of Lists.

“The Philadelphia Bar Foundation salutes these first 100 firms to pledge their ongoing support of the Foundation and the many legal services agencies that we grant to every year. They have truly "Raised the Bar" of financial support so that Philadelphia can proudly join the many cities in our country that strive to guaranty access to our justice system for the underprivileged, the indigent, the victims of discrimination and abuse. We especially applaud those many firms which have gone above and beyond the minimum pledge of $300 per attorney, with some firms pledging to the Foundation and/or our constituent agencies $400, $500, $600 and more per attorney,” said Bob Lane, President of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

According to a survey taken by the Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee, a five-year veteran attorney in a Philadelphia public interest law agency makes an average of $20 per hour. The Raising the Bar campaign’s minimum of $300 per lawyer could translate into 15 hours of legal assistance. The pledges by these 85 firms, representing 4266 lawyers, mean a donation of nearly $1.35 million for local public interest law agencies.

Founded in 1964 as the charitable arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association devoted to the support of legal services agencies, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation's mission is to promote access to justice for all of our fellow citizens in the region, particularly those struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination. The Foundation provides grants and technical assistance to legal services organizations that have demonstrated both a need for financial support and an effective program for assisting clients. During 2005, the Bar Foundation funded 29 legal organizations with grants ranging in size from $2,000 to $100,000.

Kathleen D. Wilkinson and Wendy Beetlestone are serving as co-chairs for the campaign. Wilkinson, the Assistant Secretary for the Board of the Philadelphia Bar Association, is a partner at Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP, while Beetlestone, the former general counsel for the School District of Philadelphia, is a Trustee for the Bar Foundation and a shareholder at Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin.

There are three ways for Philadelphia law firms and individual lawyers to contribute to "Raising the Bar":

  • Make direct donations to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation
  • Make a direct donation to a Philadelphia public interest law agency
  • Match an employee's donation to the Bar Foundation or a public interest law agency via the United Way Campaign
For more information contact Maureen Mingey, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, at (215) 238-6334 or mmingey@philabar.org.

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