Special Coverage  

The Spirit of the Volunteer

Legal managers can play a vital role in helping meet the legal needs of underserved communities.

The Association of Legal Administrators has a rich tradition of volunteerism. Without the many members who spend endless hours giving their time to local and international ALA programs, the Association would not be as strong and vibrant as it is today.

Stephanie A. Hood

In keeping with this tradition of volunteerism, the Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrations has been developing a program aimed at leveraging the skills and resources of our members and business partners. The objective of the program is to match the depth of expertise in areas such as HR, IT, finance and general management with the needs of our peers at legal services organizations (LSO).

These organizations provide free or reduced-fee legal services for low-income individuals and families; many focus on particular groups such as veterans, the working poor, immigrants or the disabled. LSOs provide a range of services. The Legal Services Corporation, which the Foundation has worked with in the past, is a funding and educational source for many LSOs. Their description also provides an important definition:

LSC-funded programs help people who live in households with annual incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines — in 2015, that is $14,713 for an individual, $30,313 for a family of four. Clients come from every ethnic and age group and live in rural, suburban, and urban areas. They are the working poor, veterans, homeowners and renters, families with children, farmers, people with disabilities, and the elderly.

The reality is that in spite of the hard work these organizations do on behalf of their clients, many services still go unmet. According to the LSC website, “Nearly a million poor people who seek help for civil legal problems are turned away because of the lack of adequate resources. The justice gap represents the difference between the level of civil legal assistance available and the level that is necessary to meet the legal needs of low-income individuals and families. That means for every 100 problems for clients served by LSC programs, between 62 and 72 of the problems are unable to receive the help they need.”


Like any problem, no one solution will eliminate our social ills. However, the Foundation sees that we can directly help our local LSOs in meeting a portion of their needs. Much in the same way many of the attorneys in our firms offer free pro bono hours, we, too, can provide our expertise, include LSOs in our local chapter educational events, and offer other financial resources to their cause.

The Foundation’s trustees invite you to sign up to help at their website, reach out to any one of them to learn more about how the chapters can help and in turn how the Foundation can support your individual efforts in helping a local LSO. Together we can truly help reach the underserved in our communities and beyond.

The Foundation is once again sponsoring the Silent Auction at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference & Expo in National Harbor, Maryland. The net proceeds of this major fundraiser will help support the Administrative Pro Bono program, the Susan French Emerging Leader Scholarships, and the David Brezina Memorial Session speaker at each Annual Conference. This year’s Brezina speaker is Elizabeth Birch, the former Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Additionally, she served as the Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from 1995 to 2004. Under her direction, the HRC grew substantially in members, budget and ability to steer the national conversation in ways that opened minds to a culture of acceptance and reduced discrimination against the LGBT community.

Considering our focus on supporting LSOs directly, the trustees will also be donating a portion of the proceeds directly to Tahirih Justice Center, which provides free immigration, family, and civil legal services, as well as a connection to vital social services, so its clients can rebuild their lives in safety. Your donations and winning bids will not only support the Foundation’s future initiatives but also go directly toward meeting the needs of the underserved and under-represented.

Additionally, coming soon to this online portal, you will be able to see all the donations you can bid on through Annual Conference. And, of course, direct donations to the Foundation are always welcome and very much appreciated! Secure donations can be made directly through its webpage on the ALA website.

We believe that the spirit of our volunteerism, the caring and supportive efforts that define our ALA community, and the depth of experience we each hold are the traits the strengthen us individually and the communities we reside. We hope to have you as partners in this program. We look forward to hearing from you!