[District of Columbia, Dec. 17, 2014] — The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) announced the recipients of its two loan repayment assistance programs (LRAP) for FY15. More than $319,000 was awarded to 69 civil legal services lawyers, who provide direct civil legal services to low-income, underserved DC residents. They will receive an interest-free loan from DCBF to help pay their monthly student loan payments from January to December 2015, at which time these interest-free loans will be forgiven.
Board President Marc Fleischaker, Chair Emeritus of Arent Fox LLP, said, “The Bar Foundation is extremely pleased that we are able to help attorneys continue in their careers as poverty lawyers. There is a critical need for lawyers willing to work in the public interest for less money than they would otherwise make, and when we can help bring access to justice to lower income individuals, the entire community benefits.”
Since 2007, DCBF has run two loan repayment assistance programs: the DC Poverty Lawyer Loan Repayment Assistance Program (DC LRAP) and the DC Bar Foundation LRAP (DCBF LRAP).
“The goal of LRAP is to enable DC legal services providers to recruit and retain talented lawyers to work on behalf of the District’s low-income, underserved residents. This year, we had a 30 percent increase in LRAP applications from last year, which means there are now more lawyers to provide direct civil legal services to those DC residents most in need,” said Imoni Washington, Director of Programs of the DC Bar Foundation.
The DC LRAP is funded by the Council of the District of Columbia for law school loan repayment assistance to lawyers who live and work in DC. At the direction of the Council, and pursuant to a grant agreement with the District of Columbia’s Office of Victim Services, DCBF lends its expertise to the District by identifying, awarding, and monitoring DC LRAP. The DCBF LRAP has no residency requirement, although all participants must work in the District. Private contributions, revenue from the Go Formal gala and the Go Casual city-wide denim event, and interest on certain trust accounts fund the DCBF LRAP.
For both loan repayment assistance programs, the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP provides a team of volunteer paralegals and lawyers to assist with the application process, administration, and monitoring.
The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Bar Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants and training and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to D.C. poverty lawyers to help with their educational debt.