Law firm’s move sets charitable giving sights to Capitol Hill community

December 12, 2012

Who: David
Rogers.

Company: McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm.

Corporate giving highlights: More than 80 percent of the lawyers in the D.C. office have provided pro bono services this year to nonprofits, including the Children’s Law Center, the Tahirih Justice Center and Humans Right First.

What defines the firm’s philanthropy?

The firm provides pro bono legal services and financial contributions to local charities through our foundation. When we recently moved to Capitol Hill, one of the opportunities we saw immediately was working with one of the homeless shelters around the corner from the office, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, which provides systemic advocacy as well as one-on-one representation for families and individuals that are homeless and in need of legal services. We decided to adopt that site, and our attorneys are there once or twice a month.

How has the firm’s philanthropy evolved over the years?

Since 1994, we’ve seen the D.C. office tackle a number of projects and issues in our community. We were one of the earlier firms that adopted a tutoring program that was started by the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

What is the giving structure?

We have a foundation that is handled in-house. There’s a committee that looks into requests and an office administrator who runs it. The firm has always encouraged partners and associates to contribute to their own individual projects. We also have monthly fundraising drives to support community organizations as well as nonprofit legal organizations.

How do you decide with which organizations to partner?

The foundation looks at requests from the various organizations and tends to pick four or five in D.C.

What giving trends are you seeing in the legal field?

Given the economy, there’s been an increased demand on pro bono legal services. With the lessening of typical funding for pro bono legal organizations, there’s been an increased need for law firms to help these pro bono legal organizations during this downturn.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

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