Members of the Section give back to their communities and to the profession in many ways. Find out how you can help ensure fair access to justice for all through the Section’s special projects and initiatives.
Access to Justice
In 2006, the American Bar Association resolved to urge "federal, state and territorial governments to provide legal counsel as a matter of right at public expense to low income persons in those categories of adversarial proceedings where basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody, as determined by each jurisdiction." The ABA thereby firmly placed the issue of access to counsel in civil cases on both the bar's and nation's agendas. Read more about our 2013 program celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Gideon vs. Wainwright.
The Children’s Rights Litigation Committee works to improve access to justice, engage pro bono lawyers, and improve outcomes for all children who come into contact with the legal system. As it works toward that vision, the committee exercises the unique ability to help local groups who are interested in starting or improving children’s legal programs.
For additional resources on supporting rights for children, visit the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee webpage, Section of Litigation Fostering Justice webpage, and the Educational Civil Rights Accountability Project webpage.
The Anti-Trafficking Task Forces brings together and trains first responders--law enforcement officers, lawyers and judges--to teach them how to recognize and deal with trafficked victim, particularly in coordination and conjunction with other first responders (medical and social services) in other settings. In 2012-2013, full-day training sessions were held in Chicago, San Diego and Washington DC. The Task Force works with the ABA Presidential Task Force on Human Trafficking.
The Implicit Bias Task Force addresses the profound implications to our justice system, trial practice and profession of groundbreaking research in psychology and neuroscience about the unconscious bias every person harbors.
Diversity and Pipeline
The Judicial Intern Opportunity Program is a full-time, six-week minimum, summer internship open to all first- or second-year minority or economically disadvantaged law students who want to do legal research and writing for state or federal judges in participating cities. The program seeks to provide internship opportunities for minority or economically disadvantaged law students, those who are members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the legal profession.
Legal Services Delivery Programs
The ABA Section of Litigation Legal Services Delivery Committee developed the Intensive Private Bar Training Program to improve the fundraising skills of legal services managers and staff, and at the same time, build relationships between the private bar and legal services staff to move such fundraising efforts forward.
The mission of the Legal Services Training Committee is to improve the quality of trial advocacy among lawyers who provide legal services to the poor and disadvantaged throughout the nation. Each year the committee organizes two trial skills training workshops for legal services attorneys across the country in hopes they can further develop and enhance their advocacy skills to better serve their clients.
Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP)
The Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP) project help litigators/Law firms partner with homeless shelters or similar organizations which serve the homeless population and mobilize volunteer attorneys from local communities to provide regularly scheduled, one-hour, legal free clinic at the shelter.
The Section of Litigation proudly supports a number of good works projects created by the ABA. Through the years we have happily supplied funding and volunteer support to the following projects.
The American Jury Project advances the implementation of the ABA Principles on Juries and Jury Trials by working with courts, rulemaking bodies, state legislatures and the organized bar, and educates the public, third party interest groups, government officials, national media, and the legal profession on the importance of jury service and jury reform.
Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is also described as Trafficking in Persons. It is not smuggling. It does not require movement. It is a crime under international, federal and state laws. It occurs all over the globe in both small towns and urban metropolitan cities. Human Trafficking includes service compelled through force, fraud or coercion and is a violation of human rights. Victims include both adults and children, both men and women. The American Bar Association will address Human Trafficking through a number of projects developed through ABA leader entities. Read more here.
The American Bar Association created the Death Penalty Representation Project to raise awareness about the lack of representation available to death row inmates, to address this urgent need by recruiting competent volunteer attorneys and to offer these volunteers training and assistance. Read more here.
The American Bar Association (ABA) launched an innovative pro bono immigration pilot project in San Diego, California pursuant to a seed grant from the ABA Enterprise Fund. The mission of the IJP is to promote due process and access to justice at all levels of the immigration and appellate court system, through the provision of high-quality pro bono legal services for those in immigration proceedings in San Diego.
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project, launched in 2008, is one-of-a-kind, webbased venture that improves access to pro bono civil legal assistance for activity duty military personnel (LAMP), including active-duty members of the National Guard and Reserves, while expanding opportunities for firms and attorneys to provide pro bono services.
Past Good Works and Initiatives:
International Human Rights
The American Bar Association Section of Litigation conducted advocacy training sessions for 30 lawyers from the Sudan to help build a strong case against those who are responsible for genocide in Darfur.
Human trafficking is an increasingly complex and insidious problem in post-conflict Kosovo and throughout the war-torn Balkan region. The ABA Section of Litigation Human Trafficking and Organized Crime Task Force, through training and technical assistance, equips Balkan law enforcement, prosecutors, members of the judiciary, and victim advocates with the technical skills and motivation necessary to tackle this growing threat to their democracies.
Rule of Law
Hurricane Katrina and the September 11th Attacks impacted the United States and the Rule of Law in ways we had not experienced in a number of years. In response to these disasters the Section of Litigation formed a task force to consider how to protect the rule of law in times of disaster. The thought leadership provided by the Section resulted in the development of principles to guide government and lawyers during such times.
In response to the massive earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, which left over 200,000 dead, over 300,000 injured, and at least one million Haitian citizens homeless the Section has responded to help restore the rule of law. The capacity of the court system was substantially diminished; at the same time, demand for legal services dramatically increased, the Section will address that need by training attorneys in legal advocacy skills.
The oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest of its kind. In addition to the blowout’s taking the lives of eleven workers, the spill has disrupted drilling activities and has affected fishing and vacation areas around the Gulf States, disrupting businesses, livelihoods, personal, real estate, and other property, and enjoyment of natural resources all along the Gulf coast.