At Above the Law, we spend an awful lot of time dissecting all of the bad sh*t lawyers do — and there’s a bunch. But sometimes there’s a story designed to renew your faith in the profession. Atlanta-based plaintiffs attorneys Jeb Butler, Naveen Ramachandrappa, and Jay Sadd were looking for a way to share the largesse they’ve earned as lawyers with others less fortunate.
Over a steakhouse dinner, a plan came together. From the Atlanta Constitution-Journal:
The trio’s plan to put their money where their mouth is crystalized during an informal meeting at an Atlanta steakhouse and bar. And in late 2023, the attorneys launched Smart Giving, a platform to encourage high-impact charitable donations in poor and developing countries where common and preventable deaths can be avoided for as little as $2,000.
“The fact is that every day we have an opportunity to save people’s lives for about that amount of money, if the money is given correctly and wisely,” Butler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If we have the opportunity to do that then we should.”
The trio has locked onto the idea of effective altruism as a way to maximize the value of the contributions. They’ve partnered with GiveWell to ensure that every dollar pledged through Smart Giving is put to the maximum effect use to save lives around the world.
Smart Giving doesn’t collect or distribute any money. The donations pledged under Smart Giving are sent to a select few charities via GiveWell, a nonprofit organization that since 2007 has been analyzing and ranking the effectiveness of charities around the world.
GiveWell’s top-ranked charities are those that save or improve lives the most per dollar, according to its research. They include programs to prevent deaths in Africa and Asia from malaria and vitamin A deficiency.
As Butler told Above the Law:
To me it’s the most compelling argument there is for what we should be doing with our lives. It’s basically two ideas. The first idea, which is old, is that people who have more should give to help people who have less. The second idea, which is newer, is we should give thoughtfully, in ways that maximize the effect of every dollar given. Until fairly recently it was hard to execute on this second idea, but in the last ten years https://www.givewell.org – by far the best and most thorough charity evaluator in existence – has changed that. Now a moment’s thought can make a world of difference. Now a donation of the same size can be made hundreds of times more effective at doing good.
They’re off to a helluva start too. The attorneys have already pledged $350,000 to Smart Giving through the end of the year. And they’ve got another attorney — Mike Caplan of Caplan Cobb — on the line for $25,000.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.