The Story of the Campaign
It began in 1991 with a crisis. Government resources traditionally allocated to civil legal aid were facing major cuts. Three leaders of the Washington State Bar Association — the late Jack Dean of Spokane, Mark Hutcheson of Seattle, and Paul Stritmatter of Hoquiam — recognized the need for a stable legal aid funding source, believing that justice for the poor should not have to fluctuate with the vicissitudes of a governmental budget. Their solution was to start a fundraising organization for civil legal aid known as Legal Aid for Washington Fund (LAW Fund).
At its beginning, LAW Fund only raised charitable support for Washington State’s staffed attorney programs — Columbia Legal Services and Northwest Justice Project. But in 2003, LAW Fund merged its administrative functions with the Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW), the IOLTA-fund grant making agency, in order to create financial efficiencies and widen the circle of civil legal aid programs receiving LAW Fund money. Because of the merger, many legal aid programs across the state could benefit from LAW Fund’s work. With the added claims of new beneficiaries, however, LAW Fund’s resources were stretched thin. It quickly became clear that a broader and more powerful fundraising effort was needed.