Two Philadelphia Nonprofits Benefit from Unique Ace Legal Charitable Program
NEW YORK, May 18, 2009 — Two Philadelphia nonprofit organizations that support the legal needs of women and low-income residents have received $35,000 in grants from the ACE Rule of Law Fund, a unique charitable program that leverages donations from ACE Group attorneys with matching contributions from partner law firms and ACE.
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) recently received a $20,000 grant from the fund that will enable its housing unit to assist low-income tenants in dealing with problems associated with private, public and subsidized housing. CLS helps 17,000 low-income Philadelphia residents each year in obtaining equal access to justice by providing them with advice and representation in civil legal matters; advocating for their legal rights; and conducting community education about the legal issues that affect them.
"As many traditional funders of legal services have less to donate this year, the ACE Rule of Law Fund contribution is a great boost," said CLS Executive Director Cathy Carr. "This is the first time we have heard of a corporate law office raising funds for legal services, and it speaks to the commitment of the ACE lawyers to helping those in need. The economy has turned the constant flow of low-income clients into a flood of people needing legal services."
The Women's Law Project (WLP) received a $15,000 grant from the fund to support its efforts with Philadelphia police and prosecutors to improve investigations and enforcement of domestic violence and sex crimes against women. The WLP is a national leader in women's rights and a local resource for Pennsylvania women, with a successful record of advocating for women on a wide range of family, violent crime and discrimination issues.
"The Philadelphia Police Department and the District Attorney's Office have become true partners with advocacy organizations in recognizing the severity of domestic and sexual violence and in responding appropriately," said Carol Tracy, Executive Director of the Women's Law Project. "The ACE grant will help continue the momentum with our collaborative efforts, which are proving to be very effective in improving and coordinating law enforcement's response to violence against women."
"We are glad we can support these two legal organizations and the staff who are working tirelessly to advocate for the rights of women and low-income residents in Philadelphia," said Robert F. Cusumano, General Counsel, ACE Limited. "Especially in this time of great need and financial difficulty, I am proud of the ACE lawyers and our law firm partners who are making this possible."
The ACE Rule of Law Fund is a unique partnership among ACE, its legal staff and several partner firms. Funded by voluntary contributions from individual in-house lawyers and matching contributions, the Fund supports projects to enhance the rule of law around the world.
Lawyer contributions are matched by the company's charitable foundation, its general counsel and eight outside law firms: Clyde & Co., Cozen O'Connor, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, DLA Piper, Mayer Brown LLP, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Ropes & Gray LLP and Susman Godfrey LLP. Through this cumulative matching, the in-house lawyers' contributions were in effect multiplied 12 times. More than 50 ACE lawyers have contributed approximately $15,000 to the fund, with the series of compound matching contributions bringing the initial fundraising total to about $180,000.
"As corporate lawyers, we tend to take the existence of a rule of law for granted. But we have to keep in mind that the rule of law is not yet universal, not always available to all who need it and very much in need of a support system," said Mr. Cusumano. "The partnering and compounding approaches we use in the fund allow us to pool our resources to make a real difference for organizations like Community Legal Services and the Women's Law Project."
To date, the fund has supported six nonprofit legal organizations with grants totaling approximately $90,000 for projects in Philadelphia, New York and Africa.
The ACE Group is a global leader in insurance and reinsurance serving a diverse group of clients. Headed by ACE Limited (NYSE:ACE), the ACE Group conducts its business on a worldwide basis with operating subsidiaries in more than 50 countries. Additional information can be found at: www.acelimited.com.