The October NCBF Member Spotlight shines on the Allegheny County Bar Foundation (ACBF). The ACBF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and was established in 1980 by the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) to conduct a broad range of educational and charitable activities related to the law.
The Allegheny County Bar Foundation provides educational programming, promotes public awareness of the legal and judicial systems, renders legal services to clients with low incomes and provides financial assistance and grants to legal-related organizations.
Attorneys Against Hunger
ACBF established the Attorneys Against Hunger (AAH) campaign in 1993. AAH supports seventeen local hunger service agencies in their fight against hunger. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the supported agencies. This year’s Attorneys Against Hunger Campaign raised more money than ever — enough to provide as many as 113,000 meals! From November 2020 through the end of May 2021, the program collected more than $146,000 — the most in its 28-year history — bringing its total to nearly $2.2 million.
According to Bill Stang, who has co-chaired the campaign for 10 years, the pandemic created even more food insecurity, and he believes the legal community saw that need and responded. Read more.
Barbara Griffin First Woman, African American to be Named Chair of Lawyers Fund for Client Security
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has named attorney Barbara Griffin the new chair of the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security Board. Barbara is the Director of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Center. She is the first woman and the first African American to be named to the position. “I’m honored to do this work on behalf of the citizens of Pennsylvania,” Griffin said. “The Lawyers Fund for Client Security is a crucial part of our legal system that helps protect those who have been wronged by attorneys they trusted to represent them.”
Created in 1982, the fund reimburses clients who have suffered losses as the result of misappropriation of funds by Pennsylvania attorneys. Examples of such instances include an attorney accepting a retainer from a client then not doing any work or returning it, or an attorney representing a client, reaching a settlement, then keeping the money rather than giving it to the client. The fund seeks to preserve the integrity of the legal profession while also building public confidence in the justice system. It is funded from Pennsylvania attorneys as part of a mandatory assessment. It consists of a seven-member volunteer board composed of five lawyers and two non-lawyers. Board members are appointed by the Supreme Court and hold three-year terms and may serve for a maximum of six years. Griffin was named to the board in 2018, then appointed Chair on Jan. 19.
ACBF Pro Bono Center
In 2005, the ACBF launched its volunteer pro bono program under the newly named Pro Bono Center. The foundation’s Pro Bono Center helps attorneys fulfill their professional responsibility to provide public interest legal services by creating, managing, and supporting programs that match volunteer attorneys with individuals with low incomes facing legal issues that threaten their basic human needs.
Each year, through its Pro Bono Achievement Awards, the ACBF recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to this worthy cause during Pro Bono Achievement Awards. The 2021 Pro Bono Achievement Awards were presented at the ACBF’s Fall Foundation Reception on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh. The following five individuals and two organizations were recognized:
- Judicial Services Award: Hon. Christine Ward and Dianne Wainwright, Housing Court
- Pro Bono Organization Award: Pittsburgh Reporting Service
- Pro Bono Special Service Award: Cristian Minor
- Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award: Susan Abramowich
- Pro Bono Law Firm Award: Dingess, Foster, Luciana, Davidson & Chleboski LLP
- Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award: James Petraglia
The award winners will also be recognized during National Pro Bono Week, Oct. 24-30. Pro Bono Week is a national celebration of the life-changing work that volunteer attorneys perform on behalf of clients with low incomes across the country. The ACBF Pro Bono Center will celebrate the week with a variety of events as we thank volunteers, recruit and train additional volunteers, and bring attention to the needs of individuals facing critical legal issues. Read the full press release here.
Staff and Leadership
The Allegheny County Bar Foundation is managed by nine dedicated staff members and governed by nine Board members.