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December 18, 2003

Legal Public Interest Groups Get Early Holiday Gift: More Than $338,000 From Bar Foundation

Twenty-seven groups which provide law-related services to the community are getting an early holiday gift from the Philadelphia Bar Foundation this week as the Foundation distributes more than $338,000. This year's grants from the charitable arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association represent a 20 percent increase over last year. Most of the money is raised from or through Philadelphia lawyers and law firms and helps needy Philadelphians who are seeking legal assistance.

The grants vary in size from $2,000 to $98,000 and include groups which provide legal services to abused women and children, the homeless, the mentally and physically handicapped, the aged and others who need but cannot afford legal help. Some of the grants will actually help ensure the survival of local law-related public interest agencies. Among the groups receiving grants are: The Volunteers for the Indigent Program, The Support Center for Child Advocates, The Homeless Advocacy Project, The Senior Law Center, Community Legal Services, Inc., The Education Law Center, and The Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Inc.

Outgoing Foundation President Gerald A. McHugh, Jr. of Litvin Blumberg Matusow and Young thanked all those who helped to increase the Foundation's grantmaking in 2003 and added: "The Philadelphia Bar Foundation has one goal: to work to provide access to justice for vulnerable segments of our population. We've made progress this year, but we have a vigorous long-range agenda and much more to accomplish. We're encouraged as we look forward." President-elect Edward F. Chacker of Gay & Chacker commented: "We're building on our past successes, and we're working with a great group of attorneys and law firms. We've carved out an ambitious mission for ourselves, and we're well on our way."

At the same time, the Bar Foundation also announced that LexisNexis will enable the attorneys, paralegals, and support staff at the many legal services organizations funded by the Bar Foundation to have free use of LexisNexis legal research tools.

Steve Zubrzycki, senior vice president and publisher for LexisNexis, said, "We are happy to support the work of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, both directly through our financial contribution, and through our gift of research hours to the organizations the Bar Foundation  funds.  It is important for the legal community to support the organizations that are providing access to justice, and LexisNexis is proud to be able to help."

A major Bar Foundation restructuring initiated last year saw the Foundation's Board of Trustees cut in size while each current Board Member made a personal financial contribution to the Foundation. The Foundation looked to cut costs and explore new sources of revenue. These efforts have worked: this year the Bar Foundation netted 57 percent more money at its annual golf outing and 25 percent more from its annual "Andrew Hamilton Ball." The Foundation also launched a new initiative, the "Access to Justice" campaign that brought in more than $30,000 and worked to increase the visibility of the Foundation, its mission, and its many grantee organizations.

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