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City: Little Rock & Rogers
Category: Arkansas Community Foundation's Outstanding Philanthropic Corporations
Free representation for clients who are unable to pay is a longstanding tradition in the law profession, but corporate giving at Wright Lindsey Jennings goes beyond pro bono legal work.
The 120 employees of the law firm, founded 119 years ago, routinely donate more than 3,000 hours per year, according to Managing Partner Steve Lancaster. That includes time that attorneys and other staff members spend serving on the boards of various nonprofit organizations — “and some of those are very time-consuming,” he said.
“It’s just a part of our core beliefs and the way we ought to be as members of the community,” he said.
In addition to volunteer time, the firm has long budgeted for a Stewardship Committee to make financial donations to causes championed by employees. “I’ve been here for 25 years, and as long as I can remember, we’ve had that committee in one form or another,” Lancaster said.
Organizations that have benefited from the firm’s philanthropy include the American Heart Association through its annual Heart Walk and the Pack Shack, where teams of volunteers assemble meal kits to be distributed by other charitable organizations.
WLJ wants its experience to serve as an inspiration to other businesses eager to give back to the community, Lancaster said.
“Beyond the giving and the hours that we spend on boards or representing indigent clients, I think what would translate even better for other companies is things like the Pack Shack that we did. It has been a really fun event that we get attorneys and staff from every end of the firm together, and you’re filling up packs of food for others. It’s really a nice bonding experience and a whole lot of fun. I would encourage any business to do things like that. They have a lot of benefits for the community, but also for the firm.”