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Washington Letter September 2015


Featured Articles

Government Benefits

ABA social media campaign leads effort to preserve Public Service Loan Forgiveness program

The ABA’s first social media lobbying campaign is drawing thousands of individuals into the effort to preserve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which benefits those who work in government and the non-profit sector, including lawyers who have chosen public service as a career. The ABA campaign is in response to recent proposals to cap or eliminate PSLF, which was established in 2007 to provide forgiveness of remaining federal student loan debt after 10 years of eligible full-time employment in public service and payment of 120 qualifying monthly payments.

Practice Management

House passes lawsuit abuse reduction act; ABA says legislation is unnecessary

Despite opposition from the ABA, the Judicial Conference, and numerous other legal organizations, the House passed a bill Sept. 17 to amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require, rather than permit, the imposition of monetary sanctions against lawyers for filing non-meritorious claims. H.R. 758, passed by a 241-185 vote, also would roll back critical improvements made to the rule in 1993 that allows parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions by withdrawing frivolous claims within 21 days after a motion for sanctions is served.

Women's Rights

Panel looks at integration of women into national security field

Women national security leaders appeared on a panel Sept. 10 on Capitol Hill to examine the biases and barriers women face as they assume leadership positions in the field. The reception and program, “Complete Integration of Women into National Security,” was sponsored by the Women in National Security Law Initiative of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, the ABA Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law and the ABA Governmental Affairs Office with the support of LexisNexis.

Domestic & Sexual Violence

ABA urges steps to help strengthen Alaska Native families

The ABA urged Congress last month to take steps to help strengthen Alaska Native families by adopting ABA-supported recommendations from Ending Violence so Children Can Thrive, a November 2014 report of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. An ABA letter, submitted for the record of an Aug. 20 Senate Indian Affairs Committee field hearing in Alaska chaired by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), supported the removal of barriers that currently inhibit the ability of Alaska Native tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction and utilize criminal remedies as they confront the high rate of violent crime in the state and its impact on children.

Access to Justice

ABA cites importance of setting eligibility standards for assigning counsel for indigent defendants

ABA President Paulette Brown emphasized the importance of setting eligibility standards for assigning counsel for indigent defendants last month in a statement submitted to the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS). In her Aug. 26 statement, Brown commended the ILS for holding hearings on eligibility standards, which she said will “undoubtedly influence the provision of public defense for years to come.” Development of the standards by ILS is required under the 2014 settlement in Hurrell-Harring et al. v. State of New York, which cited deficiencies in the New York public defense system and required the state to adopt reforms.