This is to advise you of factual errors contained in Bradford McKee’s article “Naked Fear” (12/18/98) about our organization, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts Inc.
Your article states that WALA “mostly makes referrals.” In fact, we mostly find volunteer attorneys to assist low-income artists with their legal needs. We also present more than 30 workshops per year on arts-related legal issues, host a monthly legal clinic, offer in-house consultations with staff attorneys, house a resource library open to the public, and, yes, provide referrals to artists who exceed our income limits of $18,000 per year ($30,000 for a family).
Your article states that WALA “is largely funded by the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities.” In fact, the commission provides WALA with approximately 5 percent of our annual operating budget, the remainder of which is generously contributed by foundations, corporations, law firms, and membership fees. I informed Mr. Flickinger of this fact, and of the fact that I had personally served on the Planning Committee for Arts on Foot, because I am bound by the Canons of Legal Ethics to disclose potential conflicts of interest. I informed Mr. Flickinger that I could match him with a pro bono attorney from among our roster of 350 volunteers, and that the volunteer would not have the same conflicts.
Your article states that WALA “couldn’t really help” Mr. Flickinger. In fact, WALA matched Mr. Flickinger with a volunteer attorney from a prominent local law firm within three weeks of his visit to our office, as we indicated we would during the initial consultation.
For artists and arts organizations that may be unaware of our services, I also invite you to profile WALA in a future issue; I would be happy to give you the names of some of the several thousand artists who have come to us for assistance in recent years.
Director of Legal Services
Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts