by Sarah Baker, executive director, We The Action
After the 2016 presidential election, many progressive lawyers, including me, were asking, “What can I do?” We launched We The Action to help answer that question. We The Action is a platform that makes it easy for lawyers to find and volunteer for projects with our progressive nonprofit partners, like the American Constitution Society (ACS) and dozens of others.
The benefit of a platform like We The Action became clear almost immediately after the election. In the face of mounting threats to our democracy, our civility, and our values, the response from progressive lawyers was (and continues to be) overwhelming. To highlight just one familiar example, when the immigration ban was announced one year ago, thousands of lawyers showed up at airports across the country. The outpouring of concern and activism was inspiring, but also challenging to organize. At the same time, nonprofits were inundated by requests from lawyers who wanted to help—the work of just responding to and organizing these volunteers required resources few organizations have. New nonprofits were popping up every day.
In this landscape of increasing need and overwhelming interest in getting involved, we needed a way for progressive lawyers to organize, to find ready ways to use their skills, and to fight for our country and the values we hold dear.
We The Action launched in July 2017 to make it easier to connect skills with needs through an easy-to-use platform; and to build a community of lawyers coming together with causes to fight for their country and the values we hold dear. Since launching, we’ve seen momentum build and interest grow. In just the last two months, we’ve seen a 90% growth in our lawyer volunteer community. And our network of nonprofit partners who post projects to our site grows by the week and now includes ACS, TIME’S UP and the National Women’s Law Center, Veterans Education Success, Run For Something, Access Democracy, and dozens more.
The way it works is simple: As a lawyer, you sign up for free on our website, browse projects that need volunteers on a variety of progressive issues, and volunteer for projects that interest you. It’s that easy. As a reader of this blog, you may be particularly interested to know that ACS has posted several popular projects to our site, including opportunities for lawyers to help vet the President’s nominees, analyze and respond to the Administration’s regulatory agenda, and help build a body of progressive judicial opinions.
Our work is making a difference. In just the initial months since our launch, our volunteer lawyers—many of whom have full-time jobs and busy lives—have donated hundreds of hours amounting to tens of thousands of dollars of volunteer legal services because that is what this time is calling them to do. More importantly, our growing community is joining with leading progressive nonprofits to advocate for a more equitable, inclusive, and just society.
*Sarah Baker is the Executive Director of We The Action. Sarah worked at the White House from 2011 to 2017, serving as Special Assistant and Associate Counsel to President Obama, as well as Senior Policy Director to Dr. Jill Biden. Previously, Sarah was an Associate at Hogan Lovells, ultimately serving as the Senior Associate in charge of running the law firm's domestic pro bono practice.