Who We Are

The Campaign for Equal Justice is Washington’s annual fundraising drive for civil legal aid.

Our Mission

LAW Fund and its Campaign for Equal Justice raise charitable contributions to ensure that justice is a reality — not just for those who can afford it — but for everyone in Washington state.

Our Vision

We envision a world where:

  • poverty does not create barriers to effective participation within Washington’s justice system;
  • the legal community is fully engaged in supporting equal access;
  • everyone in our state can access the justice system so that ultimately they can access justice.
Photo: Columbia Legal Services’ plaintiff in Perez-Farias v. Global Horizon

Our Model

  • We are a unified, statewide fundraising drive.
    Our one-for-all fundraising model allows the civil legal aid community to lower fundraising costs, raise more money, and share the benefits of efficacy. Most importantly, the Campaign frees up legal aid providers to focus their time and energy on the ultimate priority — serving clients.
  • We raise private, unrestricted funds to provide operating support for 23 local legal aid programs.
    Money from the Campaign helps preserve the legal aid services that low-income clients need the most. Private funding is critical to this effort because it is flexible. Aid providers are free to use gifts like yours to support services tailored to meet the local community’s needs.
  • The Campaign focuses on and derives its vitality from Washington’s legal community.
    Attorneys, judges, and other members of the legal community are stewards of the justice system. Every day, they help ordinary people access their rights under the law. That’s why we look to members of the legal community to lead the way when it comes to civil legal aid. The Campaign invites members of the legal community to extend their stewardship of justice—by helping low-income people access the knowledge, support, and representation they need to participate effectively within the justice system.

How To Give

If you wish to give to the Campaign for Equal Justice, please visit https://c4ej.org/give-now/. You can also access more information about the Campaign by visiting https://c4ej.org.

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.

Then, in 2004, the Access to Justice (ATJ) Board (the policy-making board for civil legal services established by the Supreme Court) adopted the recommendation to form a collaborative fundraising campaign that would benefit both staffed and volunteer civil legal aid programs around the state. The ATJ Board asked LAW Fund, the only statewide charitable fundraising effort for legal aid in Washington, to spearhead the creation of this unified effort.

Finally, in 2005, LAW Fund launched the inaugural Campaign for Equal Justice, the statewide collaborative fundraising drive meant to free individual legal aid programs from the burden of raising their own funds and to increase giving. Bill Gates, Sr. and John McKay served as the effort’s Co-Chairs and helped guide the way. Ever since, the Campaign has been serving as Washington’s annual fund drive to raise operating support for the state’s civil legal aid programs.

The Campaign had a tremendous impact on the legal community’s fundraising efforts. Prior to the Campaign, only 2-4% of the legal community participated to donating to civil legal aid annually. In contrast, 26% of the statewide legal community donated to the Campaign in 2013. Before 2005, LAW Fund averaged less than $350,000 raised each year. In the years following the introduction of the Campaign, we’ve averaged well over one million dollars raised annually.

LAW Fund and the Campaign for Equal Justice have taken root and flourished, even in the midst of difficult economic times, because of the dedication and passion of our legal community. Today, we are eagerly looking forward to the bold path of growth we believe is ahead of us. Our founders’ vision was that justice should be served for everyone, forever. Here at the Campaign, we will not rest until the legal aid providers who serve that vision have all of the funding they need to make that dream come true.