JUNE 23, 2023 –Davis Wright Tremaine LLP's novel solution enabling survivors who've escaped violence, trafficking, and assault to purchase property without publicly disclosing their name or address was featured as an example of "the very best initiatives" in Chambers' 2023 D&I Report.
Chambers found that Davis Wright "demonstrated significant creativity" in its approach to the project and noted that the firm "always brings innovation and inclusivity" to its pro bono efforts.
The work highlighted by Chambers arose from Davis Wright's leadership in a state task force charged with finding a way to make owning property possible for participants in Washington's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). Jim Greenfield, a partner in Davis Wright's real estate practice, led the effort. His innovative proposal was to disguise purchaser names by means of a revocable trust mechanism, a tool similar to one used by many wealthy property buyers, which allows the trust to be listed as the property owner in county land and tax records, rather than the ACP participant.
The task force, drawn from multiple professions and disciplines, worked together to develop and beta-test this plain-English trust document. The document went live earlier this year, providing those who must keep their addresses confidential the ability to purchase property without putting themselves at risk.
Davis Wright "approached this problem with fresh eyes and developed an innovative, practical, and scalable solution supported by the residential real estate industry and related government agencies," wrote Chambers. The project "utilized a broad range of partners and associates from diverse transactional disciplines, and resulted in an important, innovative, downloadable instrument to address a critical social need. This reflects how intentional DWT is about providing meaningful opportunities for attorneys of all backgrounds."
Washington's secretary of state, Steve Hobbs, paid a visit to Davis Wright's Seattle offices to personally express his gratitude. Hobbs brought certificates of thanks for the attorneys and staff who gave of their time and talent to the project, including: Greenfield, Brian Hulse, Nancy Brownstein, Jim Flaggert, Katherine Jeffrey, Karen Johnstone, Peter Mucklestone, Dirk Giseburt, Jayanne Hino, and Joanna Plichta Boisen, the firm's chief pro bono and social impact officer.
"Our quest for bringing novel solutions to access to justice will never cease," said Boisen, "especially when it comes to protecting foundational rights, like property ownership."
Based in part on this project, Chambers named Davis Wright a finalist in the "Pro Bono: Outstanding Firm" category at the 2023 D&I Awards: USA—the second straight year of recognition for the firm. Last year, Chambers named Davis Wright the "clear winner" of the Pro Bono: Innovation Award.
About Davis Wright Tremaine
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is an AmLaw 100 firm with more than 600 lawyers. The firm is widely recognized as a national leader in pro bono innovation. For more information, visit www.dwt.com/probono.