In early 2020, my colleagues in the American Bar Association, Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section (ABA TIPS) and I watched with concern as the economic impacts of the pandemic damaged communities. Hardest hit were the working class, young folks, and seniors. As a group, we felt compelled to do something to give back, so we created and launched The Financial Literacy Project. The project is ongoing and aims to guide underserved communities in issues like financial well-being, budgeting, and tax preparation, providing a legal perspective unique to this resource. As noted by the Financial Literacy Project, “Empowering ourselves changes lives. Empowering others changes our communities.”
As we start a new year, I have reflected on my public service efforts through ABA TIPS (which I will have the privilege of serving as Chair beginning in September 2023), like The Financial Literacy Project, the Domestic Violence Protection Project, and Project Outreach (a school mediation program). I am proud of the work I contributed to those projects and the impacts they continue to have. However, I am even more proud to say that I am not unique among my colleagues. I have had the privilege of spending the last 38 years working alongside attorneys and staff at Bullivant Houser that are leaders in their communities. From Shareholders to Legal Assistants, Bullivant employees are volunteering, shaping programs, and sharing expertise for community benefit.
Bullivant values community service because we know it makes a difference. Our employees are encouraged to participate in pro bono work, and are given eight hours of paid community service time every quarter – 32 hours a year – to invest in their communities. We also sponsor memberships in professional organizations and mentor our attorneys and staff to become leaders in these organizations. Our staff have used these opportunities to build their networks and gain valuable experience working on projects that benefit the community.
It is my pleasure to highlight a handful of the projects that Bullivant employees are currently championing:
Seattle Associate, Zabrina Delgado works with Raíz, a group run by PPGWNI which is breaking down barriers in accessing health care in the Latinx community. Zabrina’s involvement has been centered on Eastern Washington, where she grew up, and included weekend mobile clinics and outreach work with migrant workers in the rural area. The organization takes a tailored approach to each area they visit, and fully utilizes their volunteers’ skillsets. While she also helped with the medical aspects of the clinics, Zabrina shared her expertise by assembling information about workers’ rights relevant to the migrant communities the group visited, and helped de-mystify employment contracts that were often in English rather than Spanish.
Zabrina has been passionate about supporting these communities since she did volunteer work in support of migrant groups in law school, and she continues to work with friends and colleagues to improve conditions and empower people.
Adam Thomas, San Francisco of Counsel, enjoys cycling, volunteering within his local legal community, and being an advocate for the LGBT community in California. He has been nominated to the Board of Directors of the Tom Homann LGBT+ Law Association, where he has helped raised money for transgender immigrants who need immediate medical, legal, and living assistance after fleeing intense persecution, or even death in their home country. He also volunteers annually to serve as an attorney scorer for the San Diego County High Schools Mock Trial initiative, which provides thousands of students with the opportunity to practice court-room advocacy in a competitive, yet educational setting.
A cycling enthusiast, Adam will participate in a 7-day, 545 mile bike ride in June 2023, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, traversing over 23,000 feet of elevation to raise funds for two LGBT organizations: The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and The Los Angeles LGBT Center. Aimed at raising awareness to end the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, the AIDS/LifeCycle ride will also contribute to providing free HIV/AIDS medical care, testing, and prevention services. This won’t be Adam’s first charity ride – he previously participated in Harbor to the Bay, a ride from Boston to Provincetown which also raised money for an organization combatting stigma and supporting folks living with HIV/AIDS, Fenway Community Health Center.
Community pillar and recently retired Portland Shareholder, Ron Clark, is finishing his second year as the Board President of Every Body Athletics (EBA), a non-profit providing exercise and socialization classes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization fills the gap for folks with disabilities after they become adults and leave high school – studies show a regression in that community after high school when many public services drop off, and EBA has stepped in to offer inclusive group exercise to address it. Bullivant has sponsored EBA’s annual golf tournament and fundraising dinner, and I had the opportunity to play in one of the post-dinner games that were played.
The organization was started by family friends of Ron, and he humbly claims that he ‘just has an affinity for folks who could use a hand’, which is why he continues to support EBA and many other organizations.
We are proud of our employees’ significant contributions to these and many other causes, and we are going to be sharing even more about our community service efforts in the future.
A colleague and friend who is an executive at a national insurance company has shared the following statement with me: “If service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.” We at Bullivant Houser take our public service commitment seriously and hope you will do the same.
Be well and volunteer often…
President, Bullivant Houser