Press Release

Twenty Years After Columbine Shooting, Denver Lawyers Provide Free Estate Planning to First Responders

April 11, 2019

Twenty years ago, on April 20, 1999, two gunmen killed 13 people and wounded 20 others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Fatalities might have been higher if not for the prompt response by police and emergency medical personnel.

On Friday, April 19, 2019, 20 attorneys—10 of them from Ballard Spahr—and 20 staff members will provide first responders with basic estate-planning documents—for free. The workshop is part of the Wills for Heroes program, a nationwide 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes similar events across the country.

"First responders put their safety on the line every day for us," said Alicia B. Clark, a partner in Ballard Spahr's Real Estate Department. "It's our privilege and honor to help them to put a plan in place for their future."

Wills for Heroes fulfills a critical need. Anecdotal evidence from earlier Wills for Heroes workshops shows that despite the inherently dangerous nature of their jobs, as many as 90 percent of first responders don't have any kind of estate plan at all. That compares to 50 to 55 percent of the general population. Since its founding in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Wills for Heroes has prepared more than 20,000 estate-planning documents (including wills, living wills, and healthcare directives) for first responders, completely free of charge.

As a signatory to the American Bar Association and Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, Ballard Spahr has committed to donating at least three percent of billable hours to pro bono service. That works out to more than 50,000 hours each year.

"We are proud any time we can support the greater Denver community," said Denver Office Managing Partner Steve Suflas. "Ballard Spahr has a longstanding relationship with Wills for Heroes, and it's one of the most popular pro bono opportunities for our Colorado lawyers and clients. It's a good feeling to know you're giving back to people who contribute so much."

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