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WASHINGTON, July 10, 2014 -- The American Bar Association announced the recipients of “catalyst” grants given through the Legal Access Job Corps initiative established by ABA President James R. Silkenat. The grants are available to bar associations, courts, law schools or other groups that propose to employ new lawyers in innovative ways to address the legal needs of poor or moderate-income individuals.
"The ABA's catalyst grants will help nurture innovative programs that bridge the unmet legal needs of our society and the unmet employment needs of our young lawyers," Silkenat said. "We are working on ways to get young lawyers to open new avenues to justice through programs that also give them practical experience" he added.
To address the dual problems of the lack of adequate legal representation for disadvantaged communities and the significant number of unemployed and underemployed lawyers, the ABA formed the Legal Access Job Corps Task Force to study the issue. Co-chaired by Chief Judge Eric Washington of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Allan Tanenbaum, managing partner at Equicorp Partners, and Patricia White, dean of the University of Miami School of Law, studied various projects and initiatives and chose the grant winners from a group of 96 proposals.
"We know the ABA can't solve the problem alone. But by joining with state and local institutions, we can work together to find win-win solutions," task force co-chair Tanenbaum said of the grants, which are not intended to be an ongoing source of funding but are meant to start or support projects that can be sustained by other resources.
The projects awarded the grants are:
The ABA remains committed to closing the justice gap in America and to developing new avenues of employment and practice for unemployed and underemployed lawyers. "So many of our citizens have never even met a lawyer or can't afford a lawyer,” Silkenat said. “It would seem natural to put those two together and find the funding to make that work."
An ABA short video – “Be the Change” – highlights the issues and programs that help employ underutilized lawyers while serving those who need a lawyer's help.
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