By Nancy Lopez
When Washington Council of Lawyers started, we were run entirely by volunteers. Arnold & Porter‘s Marsha Tucker, our longtime board member and winner of our 2016 Legacy Award, has set the standard for volunteer service. In her early years with the Council, Marsha assumed many of the responsibilities for leading the organization. Indeed, for a time, our mailing address was Marsha’s office at Arnold & Porter. Marsha has made sustained, significant contributions to Washington Council of Lawyers, improving the organization by leaps and bounds along the way. As one of our board members observes, “it is hard to think of Washington Council of Lawyers without seeing Marsha Tucker in the background quietly figuring out what needs to be done and making sure it happens.”
By day, Marsha coordinates the pro bono program at Arnold & Porter. She joined the firm after graduating from the University of Michigan with a BA and Masters in Social Work; Arnold & Porter was one of the first firms to hire a full-time professional to run a law firm pro bono program. “Marsha is the dean of the full-time pro bono persons in DC,” says one of her colleagues. “She was a pioneer in the modern model for pro bono, and she has trained many of her counterparts at other firms.”
Arnold & Porter’s pro bono program is now one of the nation’s best, and Marsha deserves much of the credit. And she’s still charging full steam ahead: One of her colleagues notes that even after decades at her position, Marsha “approaches each day as though it were her first day of an exciting new job.”
In order to build and sustain a lasting pro bono culture, Marsha actively mentors young public-interest lawyers—those in our mentoring program, Equal Justice Works fellows, friends, and even her colleagues’ children. She also connects young lawyers to career opportunities and advises those who are seeking to expand DC’s public-interest community. Although she’s extraordinarily busy, she always prioritizes helping others.
Marsha doesn’t have a law degree, but it’s safe to say that she’s improved the city’s public-interest community more than most lawyers. We can’t wait to honor Marsha for her law-firm leadership, mentoring, and tireless support for Washington Council of Lawyers. Pro bono and public-interest law in Washington, DC wouldn’t be the same without her.
Nancy Lopez (@NancyLopezWCL) is our Executive Director.