ABA’s Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, DC, is the nexus of our advocacy efforts before Congress, the Executive Branch and other governmental entities. Legislative priorities, established by the Board of Governors, are based on criteria such as importance to the legal profession, potential for impact and timeliness.
We’re having a wildly successful ABA Day, and it’s so exciting. We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of lawyers here from all over the country.
Patricia Lee Refo, Chair, ABA Day 2017
Access to legal services
ABA Day embodies the concept that former House Speaker Tip O’Neill made famous – all politics is local.
Every spring, the ABA coordinates a three-day conference that brings together leaders of the ABA, state and local bars to take the message of lawyers to Congress. These visits are an opportunity to develop and affirm strong working relationships with elected representatives and their staff.
In addition, participants honor select ABA advocates and Members of Congress for their commitment to “Justice for All.”
This year, advocates focused on:
- Funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC): LSC grantees provide civil legal aid to constituents at 125% of the poverty level and below. Advocates asked Congress to return LSC funding to $450 million—roughly the FY2010 appropriation (inflation adjusted) before the dip in the economy.
- Access to Justice for Homeless Veterans:Nearly 67,000 veterans experience homelessness on any given night and, according to the VA, many need a lawyer’s help to overcome their circumstances. Advocates asked their representatives to support legislation authorizing private-public partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve access to justice for homeless veterans.
Independence of the legal profession
Primary oversight of the legal profession should continue to be vested in the court of highest appellate authority of the state in which the attorney is licensed, not federal agencies or Congress.
Therefore, the ABA opposes federal legislation or rules that would undermine traditional state court regulation of lawyers, interfere with the confidential attorney-client relationship or otherwise impose excessive new federal regulations on lawyers.
The ABA has successfully opposed many such Congressional and Executive Branch proposals in recent years, including:
- Legislation requiring mandatory accrual accounting for law firms, which would require many law firms to pay tax on income before it is received
- Federal agency policies that erode the attorney-client privilege
- Measures that would impose burdensome and intrusive reporting regulations on lawyers
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