Creating positive impact in the legal community and beyond
The mission of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation is to be a driving force in promoting justice for all and to improve the community through public service law-related programs as the charitable arm of the Allegheny County Bar Association. To fulfill this mission, the Foundation raises, manages, and distributes funds, encourages and assists lawyers to provide pro bono legal services, and develops and supports public information initiatives.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
As part of its mission to be a driving force in promoting justice for all and to improve the community through public service law-related programs, the ACBF works to advance diversity, equity and inclusion among its constituents and stakeholders. The ACBF commits to these principles (1) by proactively seeking out diverse candidates for its staff, its trustees, and for those participating on any of its committees or in any of its programs, (2) by seeking diverse and inclusive viewpoints and perspectives in its decision-making with respect to governance and programming, (3) by adopting and implementing programs that serve primarily those from traditionally disadvantaged communities; and (4) by empowering constituents of all backgrounds to be active participants and leaders. The ACBF strongly believes that it provides more equitable and impactful services and programs when individuals from different backgrounds and with different experiences contribute, participate, and are heard.
The Allegheny County Bar Foundation was established in 1980 by the Allegheny County Bar Association to conduct a broad range of educational and philanthropic activities related to the practice of law. Over its first decade, the Foundation developed programs designed to address the unmet needs of underserved residents in our community, ultimately establishing the Center for Volunteer Resources in 1990 to facilitate the delivery of pro bono legal services in Allegheny County. The Center assumed the management of two novel projects – the Divorce Law Project and the Juvenile Court Project – shortly after its founding, providing direct pro bono legal services to qualified clients with very low incomes. To this day, the ACBF remains one of the only Bar Foundations in the United States to provide direct services to the public.
In 1996, the Foundation established the Fellows program to formally recognize and honor attorneys with a demonstrated commitment to excellence in philanthropic, community, professional, and public service efforts. To date, over 1,000 attorneys have been inducted as Fellows of the ACBF, making financial pledges that established the footing for the Foundation’s legal aid grants program that was launched in 2000. The Fellows program continued to grow with the addition of the Young Lawyer Fellows Program, designed to recognize new attorneys committed to philanthropy and public service while encouraging continued engagement with the ACBF from early in their career. The Foundation’s Fellows enabled the distribution of over $700,000 in grants since the program’s inception to community organizations in support of pro bono projects of various size and scope.
In 2006, the Foundation established the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), a first-of-its-kind effort to alleviate the financial burden encountered by attorneys practicing public interest law. LRAP distributed nearly $175,000 in awards to 33 public interest attorneys with financial need and significant law school debt. Because of its success, LRAP has served as a model for other loan repayment programs across the legal sector.