The Traverse City law firm of Smith and Johnson has donated $5,000 to the State Bar of Michigan Access to Justice (ATJ) Fund. The gift will support an endowment campaign by Legal Services of Northern Michigan, the civil legal aid provider for northern lower and Upper Peninsula Michigan.
“Our firm recognizes the tremendous unmet need for civil legal services to the poor,” said Louis A. Smith, the firm’s founder. “We are one of the largest law firms in the area and we are committed to providing our clients in northern Michigan with the best representation in the most expeditious and professional manner possible. If we can support our legal aid program in its challenge to provide quality legal help to poor people with family, housing, and consumer problems, we are happy to do so.”
The Access to Justice Campaign raises funds to support legal aid programs throughout the state. Federal and other funding cuts have reduced the available support for the legal aid programs in terms of real dollars. “Poor people around the country have an extremely difficult time getting the kind of legal help they need,” said Nancy J. Diehl, State Bar President. “While there is one lawyer for every 322 people in the general population, there is only one lawyer for every 7,000 individuals living in poverty. I commend Smith and Johnson for its leadership on Access to Justice in the north, and I encourage other lawyers to follow their lead,” Diehl said.
Funds raised through the ATJ Campaign are received and managed by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a 501©(3) organization founded in 1947. Endowment gifts may be eligible for a state community foundation tax credit. More information about the Access to Justice Campaign can be found at www.atjfund.org.