Search

King County Bar Foundation 

Description

The King County Bar Foundation (KCBF) is dedicated to ensuring access to the legal system and encouraging diversity in the legal profession. KCBF’s Pro Bono Services programs (PBS) promote social justice by ensuring equal and non-discriminatory access to legal aid for all individuals by providing volunteer-based, client-focused legal services to low-income King County residents who would not otherwise receive legal assistance related to their needs.

Mission Statement
KCBF is dedicated to ensuring access to the legal system and encouraging diversity in the legal profession.
Donate Now
King County Bar Foundation
1200 Fifth Ave, Suite 600 
Seattle 
WA
98101 
(206) 267-7100 

Andrew Prazuch 
Executive Director 

Programs

King County Bar Foundation Programs

Through its PBS programs, KCBF provides free legal advice and representation to prevent homelessness; provide family safety and stabilization, especially where children are in danger; and assist low-income individuals in navigating the legal system as they seek to preserve basic human needs. Staff and volunteer attorneys provide direct representation in court proceedings, legal advice, and education related to housing, family law, debt, and other civil legal issues. PBS's specialized programs work together to provide access to justice for the most vulnerable King County residents. PBS's services target those King County residents who live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and who have civil legal needs. Priority clients are those who face additional barriers including limited English proficiency, cultural barriers, domestic violence, mental health issues, individuals with AIDS/HIV, and other marginalized populations. Our clients include families needing access to medical care, education and employment, preservation of stable housing, debt relief, and family safety. Staffing for PBS's programs is very lean, yet the programs manage and coordinate over 1,300 volunteer attorneys to provide the free legal advice and representation that preserves many basic needs for King County's low-income population.        

Recognizing that every member of our society, regardless of race or ethnicity, must have a stake in our legal system, KCBF is one of the largest providers of minority scholarships to law students in the state and is dedicated to expanding opportunities with the law for people of color.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Success
KCBF’s Pro Bono Services has expanded its ability to help people with debt and bankruptcy issues. PBS established a free monthly debt education workshop for King County residents which teaches attendees how to assess their debt situation, deal with debt collectors, respond to a collection lawsuit, and determine when or if they need to file bankruptcy. If needed, attendees can receive direct representation with their bankruptcy issues.

PBS also hosts debt and bankruptcy legal clinics in which King County residents can receive a free half-hour consultation with a pro bono attorney to discuss their debt issue. A panel of experienced bankruptcy attorneys is available to provide pro bono representation to low-income clients needing the relief of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and PBS offers legal representation to low-income clients who are in debt due to fraud, Social Security overpayment, and other issues that are too complex for the clients to handle on their own.

Need
King County has a significant number of persons with limited English proficiency, and the PBS programs’ budget for interpreter services is unable to adequately meet the need. Professional interpreters are essential in insuring that clients receive the assistance they need. The informal interpretation often provided by friends or family members in other situations is not available in the legal services context where confidentiality is required and where difficult legal terms and concepts need to be explained.

Evaluation


The King County Bar Foundation (KCBF) provides free legal advice and representation to prevent homelessness; provide family safety and stabilization; and assist low-income individuals in navigating the legal system.

Proven Success
KCBF targets King County residents that live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and who have civil legal needs. Paid staff is limited but they leverage and coordinate over 1,500 volunteer attorneys to provide the free legal advice and representation that preserves many basic needs for King County’s low-income population. They have seen an increase in need for civil legal aid and are working on recruiting more volunteer attorneys, especially attorneys interested in working in the Kent Regional Justice Center. The bulk of their volunteer attorneys tend to be in the northern part of the county.

Collaboration
They have partnerships with the judiciary, law firms, and various bar associations. They are a member of the Alliance for Equal Justice, a network of civil legal aid providers throughout the state. All Washington state attorneys are encouraged by the State Bar to do pro bono work. The King County Bar Foundation provides a wide variety of opportunities for attorneys in our community to do so.

Financial Health
They adopted a conservative budget that includes modest increases over the previous year’s budget. They will use some reserve funds to ensure there is stable funding for their pro bono services programs. They have seen slight improvements in revenues, but they have not returned to the level of support prior to the economic crisis. KCBF will conduct their annual fundraising campaigns: the Giving Circle Campaign, the Campaign for Equal Justice (a joint venture with LAW Fund to solicit law firms in King County), the Corporate Giving Campaign, and the Planned Giving/Endowment Campaign. Nearly one third of their revenue comes from their annual fundraiser, the Breakfast With Champions. In March 2011 nearly 1,100 people attended.

They receive an annual grant from the Legal Foundation of Washington for their portion of the proceeds from the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) accounts and other state funding. IOLTA funds dropped from $9 million to around $3 million.

Sustainability
The economic climate over the last twelve months has brought on the two-fold challenge of serving more clients with few resources. In their 2010 budget, they had to eliminate two FTE positions in the Pro Bono Services programs. The Domestic Violence Revision and Newcomers programs were closed and the Legal Services for the Homeless program was incorporated into the Neighborhood legal Clinics. They did create a new position and hired a Volunteer Manager to coordinate recruitment, training, and retention of their volunteers.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

DateAmountPurpose
9/10/2010 $10,000.00support general operating expenses for Community Legal Services programs.
12/10/2007 $15,000.00support general operating expenses.

Financials

Similar Organizations

Give broadly to Basic Needs
If you care about preventing homelessness, increasing affordable housing, and ensuring access to nutritious food, then make a difference by giving to the Grantmaking Program.
Questions or comments about this organization?
Contact us to learn more.