Legal Aid Services Launches Its First Fund-Raiser

Article excerpt

During tough economic times, more charities ask for money and those with money have less to give. Today, those with generous hearts are seeking out causes with the ability to generate big results for each dollar spent.

According to Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, donations to Legal Aid can tackle poverty, child abuse, child delinquency, housing problems, elder abuse, unemployment, marital problems, scam artists and more, all in one shot. Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma officially launched its first fund-raiser, "Campaign for Legal Aid: Access to Justice," on Law Day, May 1.

Nearly half a million Oklahomans qualify for free civil legal help because their income falls below the U.S. poverty level (about $18,000 a year for a household of four). However, Legal Aid currently has the staffing and budget to provide one attorney for every 8,200 of these people. By contrast, in the general population, there is one attorney for every 250 people.

To try and close the gap, Legal Aid is launching its very first fund drive. Two Legal Aid organizations serving the western and eastern halves of the state merged in 2001, said Gayla Machell, director of marketing and development for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. This fund drive is the first for the new statewide organization.

Jimmy Goodman, an attorney with Crowe & Dunlevy who is co- chairing the campaign with attorney Jerry Durbin, spoke about the campaign at the Law Day Luncheon at the Cox Business Services Convention Center on Thursday.

Statewide Campaign Chair Bill Paul, also an attorney with Crowe & Dunlevy and former president of the American Bar Association, is writing a letter to 11,000 attorneys asking them to pledge an amount equal to one or two billable hours of their work.

"We raised less than $40 per lawyer for Legal Aid during our best year," Goodman told the group. The campaign has set $1.5 million as a three-year goal. So far, lead gifts total $345,000.

Legal Aid provides free legal services to two populations traditionally underserved: low-income families and the elderly. …