The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation (KCMBF), founded in 1979 is the charitable arm of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (KCMBA), which serves approximately 5,000 members of the bar in both Kansas and Missouri. The Mission of the foundation is to serve the community by creating and supporting public service or educational programs which promote the administration of justice, delivery of legal services, professional development or respect for the law.
In 2012, KCMBF made the bold move to transition from a granting institution to an engaging organization providing programs that would allow members of KCMBA to give back to the community using their unique skills as attorneys and judges. This new format, “Legal Connection,” was designed as an umbrella under which all future programs would live. The change has been monumental.
All Legal Connection programs fulfill the mission and vision of KCMBF: 1) Promote the advancement of the legal profession and the study of law; 2) Improve the standards of legal conduct and relations between the bar and the general public; 3) Develop law-related education and legal assistance programs for the public.
Currently celebrating our 40th year, we are proud to have three outstanding Legal Connection programs: Domestic Violence Alliance, Military Matters, and Student Law Academy.
Legal Connection: Domestic Violence Alliance, KCMBF’s longest-running program, holds an annual day-long seminar each October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Under the leadership of KCMBF, various legal, social service, medical and law enforcement agencies across the Kansas City metropolitan area collaborate to plan, promote and attend the seminar aimed at providing essential interdisciplinary information, education and support to these crucial partners who support victims and work to eliminate domestic violence. The free seminar provides cutting-edge education concerning trending issues facing domestic violence victims. Since its inception in 1997, DVA has educated over 2,500 professionals who work to end domestic violence.
Legal Connection: Military Matters is now in its third year of filling the gap in legal services for military service members and veterans. We collaborate with support agencies serving the military population in the area to identify the most-needed legal services and provide assistance to those who do not qualify for aid from other agencies. Our volunteer attorney roster has grown to encompass all areas of legal practice and we have matched hundreds of deserving military members with the legal help they need. We work with Community Partners who make referral requests on behalf of their clients. Check out our Facebook page which highlights the heartwarming stories from our volunteer attorneys in the monthly #ProBonoSpotlight. In addition to providing free legal services, Military Matters holds a yearly VETERUN 5K Run/Walk, a Military Symposium, and several free CLEs to give attorneys the skills they needs to best serve military clients. Members of the public can learn more or donate at MilitaryMattersKC.org. To date, Military Matters has received over 850 individual referrals for free legal services.
Launched in summer 2019, the third Legal Connection program, Student Law Academy (SLA) is a partnership with local education non-profit organization PREP-KC. According to former Kansas City Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James, “Increasing diversity in our profession is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. The Kansas City legal community will realize its fullest potential only when the talents of all who practice law or aspire to a legal career, regardless of background, are welcomed.” SLA aspires to serve as a future pipeline to diversify Kansas City’s legal community. Its mission is provide underprivileged urban high school students, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, with meaningful exposure to a career in the legal profession. The students participate in a paid rotational internship where they visit law firms, courts, and other governmental entities, completing the program with an immersive understanding of the integrity and importance of the law in our society. In its first year, 15 graduated from the innovative program.
The biggest and most impactful Foundation event of the year is the Liberty & Justice Gala. During the Gala, the Legacy Award is given in recognition of the recipient’s dedication to the principles of liberty and justice through exemplary professional, civic and community service. All proceeds from the black-tie event provide critical funding for KCMBF’s Legal Connection programs. The Gala helps us focus on the mission of the Foundation and celebrate the legal community’s impact on bettering the lives of people in the Greater Kansas area. We hope to continue this impact and have more Legal Connection programs added in the next 40 years that promote the administration of justice, delivery of legal services, professional development or respect for the law.
Scott C. Gyllenborg