(In recognition that interest in Progressive Lawyer has been steadily increasing, we felt it to be a good time to periodically reintroduce you to the organizations and people we have featured as well to update the post with any changes relevant to the subject we are covering. This week I am re-posting our very first feature on the Appleseed Network from October 6th, 2014. Since this was published Betsy Cavendish has moved on to become general counsel for Washington. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The Appleseed Network interim presidency is currently in the very capable hands of Annette LoVoi.)
Welcome to the launch of Progressive Lawyer! Every Monday over the next few months we will be spotlighting some of the most innovative progressive law organizations around the world and we could think of no better way to kick off the site and this feature than by starting with the Appleseed Network. As our mission (and yes we have chosen to accept it!) is to connect law students and lawyers with progressive, public interest organizations and firms from around the world, the first step is to become aware of who those organizations are. Please check in regularly on the site, follow us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook and join our LinkedIn group as this is just the beginning of what we hope will be a true, progressive legal community that leads with its values and makes a real difference in our world.
Welcome to Progressive Lawyer!
Progressive Lawyer: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us! Please introduce yourself and describe your role in the Appleseed Network
Betsy Cavendish: I’m Betsy Cavendish, President of Appleseed. Appleseed has seventeen Centers in the U.S. and Mexico; I lead the headquarters office. We’re a network of public interest justice centers. Each Center and the national office tackle a diverse portfolio of issues. We address problems at their root causes and aim for systematic, structural solutions. The national office incubates and supports local Centers. We help connect our network of pro bono supporters to Centers to advance their work and we connect Centers to each other, so that they build on each others’ successes and learn from their efforts.
My role: you’ve heard the phrase “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer?” My roles span the range from social justice entrepreneur, to public interest organization medic, chief cheerleader, fundraiser, and connector.
PL: Why was Appleseed started?
BC: Appleseed’s founders thought that the agenda for justice was ever changing and that communities across the country needed local justice centers that could tackle local needs and problems. They wanted to break out of the model of lawyers handling one case at a time to fix injustices once and for all.
Appleseed’s founders were at their 35th law school reunion and they wanted to make a lasting difference with their talents. They ran big transactions, huge litigations, they were trusted advisors to major companies and government agencies. They thought that their talents would be best spent creating institutions for change across the country.
They wanted to switch the paradigm from charity to justice.