One of the most successful civil legal service fundraising campaigns in the country, the annual Campaign for Justice (CFJ), has been a hallmark of the Rochester legal community since its inception in 1986. Despite the challenges of the current economy, CFJ continues to raise more than $200,000 annually. Proceeds are distributed to three local legal services providers, Volunteer Legal Services Project, Monroe County Legal Assistance Center, a division of LawNY, and the Legal Aid Society of Rochester.
The Campaign is an extraordinary effort and its success reflects the generosity of Rochester's legal community, the partnership and collaboration of Rochester's civil legal services providers, and the dedication of the CFJ Co-Chairs and the Campaign Cabinet. Comprised of prominent local attorneys, the Campaign Cabinet and Co-Chairs are selected each year by the VLSP Fund Development Committee.
The Campaign follows a phone-a-thon format. Each year, more than one hundred volunteers call lawyers and local businesses seeking pledges during the third week of November. For the past three years, the law offices of Ward Greenberg LLP, formerly Ward Norris Heller and Reidy LLP, has hosted evening calling. WXXI has graciously provided facilities for daytime calling in December.
In addition to funding for VLSP and other civil legal services providers, CFJ also provides funding for the Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellowship. Hanna Cohn was the architect of the Campaign for Justice, and served as the Executive Director of Volunteer Legal Services Project for almost 20 years until her sudden and untimely death. The Fellowship, largely underwritten by Hanna Cohn's family and the Hanna S. Cohn Memorial Fund, supports the hiring of a public interest attorney to work at Empire Justice Center.
Volunteer Legal Services Project (VLSP) receives a substantial part of its budget from the Campaign and provides the majority of the staff support for the Campaign although it receives significant staff support from the Legal Aid Society and Monroe County Legal Assistance Center. VLSP has more than 1,600 volunteer attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals on its panel and provided services to approximately 1,800 clients last year.