Founded in 1977, the District of Columbia Bar Foundation (DCBF) aims to transform DC’s civil legal aid network, working closely with all stakeholders, so District residents have a fair and equal legal experience. The Foundation supports DC legal aid organizations working on a spectrum of civil legal issues, including housing, employment, immigration, domestic violence, access to public benefits, and consumer law, as well as family and disability law, for more than 30,000 low-income residents each year.
Grantmaking and Beyond
In 2020, through its three grants programs, the Foundation will award a record $10.5 million to 33 DC legal aid organizations serving more than 30,000 low-income DC residents.
The DC Bar Foundation’s support to the DC legal aid community extends beyond its grantmaking and provides additional opportunities through the following programs:
Loan Repayment Assistance Program
The DC Bar Foundation provides loan repayment assistance to legal aid attorneys in order to keep skilled, dedicated public interest lawyers in the field. DCBF’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides one-year, interest-free, forgivable loans, of up to $12,000 per year, so attorneys can focus on providing exceptional legal assistance to low-income DC residents. The average salary of our LRAP participants is $67,500, while their average educational debt is $191,000. For the first time in 2019, we were able to fund every legal aid attorney who sought help in paying their education debt.
Training and Technical Assistance
The DC Bar Foundation provides additional support to DC-based civil legal aid organizations by co-sponsoring legal skills trainings for staff attorneys. One such training was delivered by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), during which DCBF grantees got access to direct, hands-on training to improve their litigation and advocacy skills using fact patterns that are relevant to public interest practice. The Foundation provides technical assistance in a number of ways, including through peer evaluations and consultants when needed.
Recognizing Champions in Our Community
Each year since 1993, the Foundation has awarded the prestigious Jerrold Scoutt Prize, established by the firm of KMA Zuckert LLC (formerly Zuckert, Scoutt, and Rasenberger LLP). The Scoutt Prize recognizes a legal services lawyer who has demonstrated a career-long compassionate concern for his or her clients while exhibiting a high degree of skill representing them.
Staff and Leadership
The Foundation is supported by ten staff members, led by Chief Executive Officer Kirra L. Jarratt. The newest positions include a full-time Development Director, a Grants Manager, and an Evaluation and Impact Manager, a position that has been crucial in bringing data and evaluation skills to the Foundation.
DCBF’s leadership consists of a twelve-member Board of Directors, the Past Presidents’ Council, an Advisory Committee, and the Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council (YLN LC). The YLN LC, launched in November 2011, gives attorneys under the age of 40 the opportunity to further the goal of access to justice in DC by acting as ambassadors who promote the Foundation’s mission and programs. In addition to engaging in regular meetings and grantee site visits, the group is an active part of the Foundation’s fundraising efforts and hosts an annual event, Lip Sync for Justice, that provides critical support to low-income DC residents in need of legal representation. You can check out photos from 2019’s Lip Sync for Justice event here!
Connect With Us
Please visit us at www.dcbarfoundation.org to find out more about our work.