Being involved in a community service organization can be a very rewarding but confusing process for law firms, but finding a successful match may result in a long-term partnership, potentially benefiting both parties. Choose the wrong organization, and it might just turn out to be less rewarding than you had hoped. Finding the right match may enhance your firm’s image, establish better ties within the community you serve, as well as gain positive publicity.
Choosing a Community Service Organization
First evaluate your firm’s mission statement. Is your law firm heavily invested in environmental rights or medical malpractice? Identifying what your clientele and firms’ interests are is a great place to start. You can also ask your employees to see which causes they’re passionate about. While those suggested causes may not pertain to your firm’s practice specialty, enthusiasm and participation will produce better results anyway.
Now that you have narrowed down your scope, you may want to consider the reach of the organization. Is its reach international? Or is it domestic, but spans across all or most states? Or is it even smaller, but is still heavily involved in your state or neighborhood? Utilizing a website such as GuideStar.org will help you choose a charity or organization. GuideStar fills you in on the details of an organization from its mission statement to how much their executives are paid. GuideStar suggests avoiding any organizations pressuring you to donate or support their cause. They also recommend supporting an organization that is transparent with finances.
After you’ve chosen an organization, donate to or support a small project to gauge how they work. If you decide that they don’t seem trustworthy, transparent, organized or effective, then don’t commit. There are plenty of organizations that need donors and supporters. Law firms involved in community service organizations reflect a sense of civic responsibility. Your law firm can easily and effectively be involved with giving back to your community.
Six Law Firms That Give Back to the Community
Here are six examples of law firms that are giving back. Each firm demonstrates a real commitment to the organization of their choice:
- Moore and Van Allen was named the North Carolina Legal Feeding Frenzy Large Firm division winner for raising 53,285 pounds of food for Feeding America Food Banks in 2013. Feeding America Food Banks is one of America’s leading domestic hunger-relief charities. Litigation attorney Cabell Clay served as Co-Chair of the Legal Feeding Frenzy Committee in 2013.
- The Lanier Law Firm, with locations in Houston, New York and Los Angeles, is committed to supporting and organizing fundraisers for the Alliance for Lupus Research, an organization that uses 100% of funds to support researchers and clinicians working to treat and cure Lupus. Attorney Gene Egdorf, whose wife is a long-time sufferer of Lupus, led the corporate fundraising drive for the “Walk to Cure Lupus” in Houston, Texas.
- Keating Muething and Klekamp PLL, is a Cincinnati-based law firm committed to supporting the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. KMK has provided both legal services as well as financial support. In the 2008 year, 74% of KMK associates participated in pro bono work, amounting to around 500 hours total. Of those 500 hours, 200 hours were dedicated to a Legal Aid Society trademark infringement case. In 2012, they invested 3,300 hours to pro bono work. In the past two years, they have donated around $500,000.
- The Martin Pringle Law Firm, of Kansas City, Missouri, has a community service committee that is comprised of attorneys and members. Their organization is committed to serving the community in different capacities, based on what needs it has. For example, they’ve helped clean up the banks of the Arkansas River, built and repaired housing for needy citizens, wrapped gifts during Christmas time, and collected school supplies for low-income children.
- The Tipton Law Firm, of Greenwood Village, Colorado, has a long history of commitment to charities and organizations. Many members of their firm serve as members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado foundation. Mentors are committed to guiding children in the path of greater educational success, confidence, higher aspirations, avoidance of risky behaviors and self-esteem.
- Feldman Sheperd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed a foundation that sends injured children to Disney World. The firm donates a portion of the proceeds earned from birth injury cases to help fund their foundation. So far, Feldman Shepard has sent six families to Disney World and hope to send more!
No matter what organization you choose, it’s a good bet that your firm will enjoy the rewards of giving back to the community through a worthy cause, such as those mentioned above.
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