Foundation reaches out to individuals

by KATHLEEN O. BEITIKS
Staff Writer


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After all, the foundation has distributed nearly $1 million in grants and scholarships since 1991, aiding both law school students and numerous community legal projects.

But that figure is not enough for Jim Pfeiffer, executive director of the foundation. "Personal support is our weak link," says Pfeiffer, who would like to see more support from individuals in the legal community.

A variety of revenue sources (credit card, magazine subscriptions, overnight mail delivery service, home mortgage program) has provided the bulk of funds for the foundation in the past, but its leaders have decided to make an all-out effort to recruit individual donors for the newly established Fellows Society.

Members of the Fellows Society would aid the foundation in promoting law-related educational programs serving the public interest, provide merit and need-based scholarships and heighten public awareness of attorneys' positive contributions to local communities.

With four levels of contribution available, members of the Fellows Society are asked to pledge at least $250 a year for 10 years.

Recruitment receptions have been held throughout the state, most recently in Sacramento with American Bar Association President Jerome Shestack as a guest speaker and earlier this month in San Francisco with state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron George. A San Diego function is set in July.

Although the foundation has consistently increased its revenue through the years, it took a $100,000 hit last year when one of its corporate sponsors, Bancroft-Whitney, was taken over by West Group.

Pfeiffer sees the foundation's scholarship program as a vital contribution to the legal community, noting that "law schools struggle to find non-school sources of funding and we provide that resource."

The State Bar Foundation gave out $115,000 in scholarships last year, with the minimum award set at $2,500.

In 1996, says Pfeiffer, the foundation provided funds to help establish a shelter and provide legal advice for victims of domestic violence in rural Mariposa County. "We were able to help the only shelter for domestic violence victims in a 400-mile radius," he said.

Some 1997 projects include:

  • Asian American Lawyer Referral & Information Service, Los Angeles: A $3,000 grant for translation of State Bar consumer brochures into Korean.

  • Yuba Sutter Legal Center for Seniors, Marysville: A $2,100 grant to educate rural seniors on powers of attorney.

  • Bar Association of San Francisco: A $3,500 grant for printing fact sheets for families of children with learning disabilities.

  • Public Law Center, Santa Ana: A $2,500 grant to provide a mediation clinic for low-income residents.

In addition, the foundation awarded a $15,000 grant to the State Bar's Office of Public Education to support a Spanish language version of its booklet "Kids & the Law."

The solo and small firms section of the State Bar received a $7,500 grant to support production of a mentor directory, and the tax section was awarded $10,000 for production of a tax video.

For information, contact Pfeiffer at 415/561-8805.

[CALBAR JOURNAL]