Civil Legal Aid in Washington State

Under the direction of the Washington Supreme Court, the Task Force on Civil Equal Justice Funding undertook a comprehensive study of the civil legal needs of low-income people. The Civil Legal Needs Study demonstrates that low-income people in Washington, and especially women and children, for the most part do not obtain legal assistance for their legal problems even though those problems generally involve such basic human needs as housing and safety.

Washington State’s Alliance for Equal Justice is a national model for efficient and effective client service delivery working to ensure that justice for all is not a hollow promise. The Legal Foundation of Washington is a Supporter of the Alliance complementing direct service work in critical ways. The Foundation distributes IOLTA and other income, including revenue derived through Civil Rule 23 and works in partnership with the Campaign for Equal Justice to provide funding and accountability to Alliance members. LFW works alongside the Equal Justice Coalition to educate the public about the importance of civil legal aid, and assists the Washington Access to Justice Board of the Washington State Bar Association to supply technical, communications and strategic support to the Alliance as a whole.

Alliance for Equal Justice

Justice is a fundamental principle of our democracy that we cannot take for granted. For most low-income men, women and children, justice is out of reach. The Alliance for Equal Justice is working to change that.

The Alliance for Equal Justice of Washington state is a network of organizations providing civil legal aid to those with nowhere else to turn. Formed to coordinate and foster collaboration, the Alliance provides critically needed services - legal information, advice and representation - to those in need.

For many, legal aid means the difference between shelter and homelessness, food on the table and hunger, family safety and continued abuse, productive work and unemployment.

Client Stories
Alliance Members: Regional Service Providers

Campaign for Equal Justice 

No one should have to face a legal crisis alone. You can help provide the solution.

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Please support the Campaign for Equal Justice.

Together we can help individuals and families in crisis achieve just outcomes.

Your annual charitable contribution to the Campaign for Equal Justice benefits legal aid programs and clients statewide to directly help your neighbors and your community.

The Campaign for Equal Justice is a statewide annual fundraising drive that collaboratively raises undesignated program support for the more than 30 civil legal aid programs throughout Washington. It is based, in large part, on the success of Oregon’s Lawyer’s Campaign for Equal Justice, whose unified efforts have been raising substantial support for Oregon’s legal aid programs for more than a decade.

By combining efforts, Alliance for Equal Justice programs make a united, annual charitable appeal under the banner of the Campaign for Equal Justice. Collaborating on resource development has been critical for the Alliance as the number of non-profit organizations has grown exponentially nationwide in recent years.

The Legal Aid for Washington (LAW Fund) Board of Directors oversees the Campaign for Equal Justice and works closely with Alliance programs and hundreds of volunteers throughout the state to ensure the success of the Campaign each year. Working together as a team is helping Washington’s Alliance for Equal Justice achieve greater visibility overall, creating efficiencies and raising more charitable support for civil legal aid. The Campaign for Equal Justice receives major support from law firms, attorneys and the public at large to help provide legal assistance to thousands more in need.

Equal Justice Coalition

The Washington State Equal Justice Coalition (EJC) is a non-partisan, broad-based, statewide organization dedicated to equal justice for all. The EJCs mission is to ensure that people are treated equally and fairly before the law by educating others about the importance of civil legal aid in our communities and advocating for sufficient public funding for civil legal aid for low-income people living in Washington state.

The Equal Justice Coalition is comprised of a volunteer work group, an advisory council, member organizations and friends of equal justice that include bar leaders, prosecutors, health care providers, police chiefs, judges, religious, business and community leaders, and many others who know that the health of our democracy rests on equal justice for all.

Washington Access to Justice Board

Recognizing that access to the civil justice system is a fundamental right, the Access to Justice Board works to achieve equal access for those facing economic and other significant barriers. The Access to Justice (ATJ) Board was established by the Washington State Supreme Court in 1994 at the request of the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors in response to a growing need to coordinate the access to justice efforts in Washington State to provide continuity and focus.

The ATJ Board supports the Alliance by providing leadership on policy and coordination issues, including:

  • Overseeing the implementation of its Revised Plan for the Delivery of Civil Legal Services to Low Income People in Washington State (State Plan, Hallmarks, Hallmarks Synopsis);
  • Creating and overseeing committees that deal with particular policy and support issues such as technology, communications, impediments and funding for civil legal aid;
  • Plan and implement Recommendations from the annual Access to Justice Conference;
  • Coordinate closely with the work of the Washington State Bar Association's Pro Bono and Legal Aid Committee and the Council on Public Legal Education.