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May 01, 2012

ABA Day draws bar leaders from all 50 states and the District of Columbia

This year’s event “historic”

For the first time, representatives from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands attended the annual ABA Day in Washington, an opportunity for participants to meet face-to-face with their representatives and senators to advocate on issues of importance to the legal profession.

This year, 330 bar leaders came to Washington for the three-day event, which was coordinated by the Governmental Affairs Office (GAO) and the ABA Day Planning Committee and cosponsored by the ABA Section Officers Conference, the association’s Young Lawyers Division, the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the National Association of Bar Executives.

In another first, participants posted their experiences and comments on Twitter.

“Your participation ensures that crucial information in support of equal access to justice is presented to Congress by the organized bar,” ABA Day Planning Committee Chair William C. Hubbard emphasized in his welcome message. “You are the strongest advocates for adequate funding and resources essential to preserve our justice system,” he said.

Those visiting their legislators this year focused on three critical issues:

  • urging Congress to fund the Legal Services Corporation at $402 million for fiscal year 2013;
  • supporting S. 755 and H.R. 1416, federal tax-intercept legislation to address the crisis in state court funding; and
  • ensuring the protection of victims of crime and violence through passage of S. 1925, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

In addition to more than 400 visits on Capitol Hill, the event featured a welcome dinner at the Canadian Embassy, where ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III recognized the following members of Congress with Justice Awards: Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Reps. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

During a reception hosted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the U.S. Supreme Court, Hubbard presented Grassroots Advocacy Awards to George Cauthen of South Carolina, Jonathan Ross of New Hampshire, Betty Balli Torres of Texas, the State Bar of Michigan and the Supreme Court of Texas.

Summing up the importance of ABA Day, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman, emphasized that participants’ personal connection with legislators “gives credible and effective voice” to the ABA’s message and “enhances the force of our advocacy.”

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