More than 80 people attended the third annual Wine and Justice event at Cast Iron Studios in Bellevue on Oct. 25. Proceeds from the event benefited The Campaign for Equal Justice and Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP).
“With so many worthy causes out there today, we were gratified that so many came out once again to support justice for all, recognizing that everyone in our community has a right to legal assistance, not just those who can afford it,” said lawyer and ELAP development director Alexandra Comstock.
The event is a fundraiser that supports civil legal aid for low-income families in East King County.
Attendees heard from Microsoft’s Strategic Policy Advisor, David Heiner. Heiner discussed how to use technology to increase access to the justice system for low-income people.
Attendees also heard an emotional appeal by an ELAP client who experienced domestic violence and was at risk of losing her children and more before being connected with a legal aid attorney who was able to help her navigate the complicated child custody process and protect her from her abuser.
According to Legal Foundation of Washington’s chief development officer Melinda Mann, only one in four people who need legal aid in Washington are able to access it because of the lack of funding. Mann said common legal aid issues like child custody, eviction, wrongful employment termination and health care debt can spiral out of control without legal help. That puts families at risk of homelessness and falling deeper into poverty.
“We know that outcomes are better on these high-stakes issues when people are represented in court by an attorney,” Mann said.
The Campaign for Equal Justice is the annual fund drive for the Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW), which funds civil legal aid for low-income families statewide. In 2017, LFW made grants to more than 35 nonprofit legal aid providers in Washington and funded legal aid for 31,000 low-income families and impact litigation, which could affect more than 2 million Washingtonians.