April 30, 2020

ABA Day Digital: As Told by Participants

ABA Day Digital 2020

ABA Day Digital 2020

Randi Brent Starrett, Most Advocacy Messages Sent, Solo Practitioner

"I was excited to participate in the 2020 ABA Day called ABA Digital this year.  The event, usually held in person in Washington, DC is the yearly opportunity for ABA members and leaders to meet with their congressional representatives and staff to advocate for the ABA's initiatives.  The issues often differ but usually include lobbying for funds for the Legal.Services Corporation.  This issue is the one closest to my heart as it provides funding for legal aid organizations and helps those most at need in our communities.  This includes our neighbors and friends, and often  individuals with disabilities.

This year, due to COVID 19, the in-person event was instead conducted digitally.  The event was held on Twitter with introductions by ABA leadership and panel discussions concerning the issues.  ABA members were then given calls to action to contact their senators and representatives through emails, phone calls and virtual in person meetings using technology. 

Although I missed the collegiality and camaraderie of walking the halls of Congress with my Florida team members, the virtual event was an amazing way to continue to communicate with our senators and representatives.  The platform was easy to use but very effective.  Even when ABA Day returns to an in-person event, hopefully in 2021, I suggest that the ABA continue to include the virtual option.  This would be a great way to involve more ABA members in the lobbying, along with providing the opportunity for participation by individuals that have difficulty travelling, due to time constraints or even disability."  

Bill Weisenberg, ABA Day Captain, Ohio

“ABA Digital Day represented the strong collaboration between the ABA, Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation. The ABA-GAO provided both substantive and technical information enabling the OSBA and OAJF to effectively communicate with its delegation on the issues identified for our lobbying efforts. Collaborative advocacy has been a hallmark of the relationship between the ABA and the OSBA and access to justice commissions across the country and the feedback thus far tells us they did hear from us. Since digital advocacy may well be the future, we are off to a good start and the tools provided by ABA-GAO enhanced our collaborative effort.”

Keith Kupferschmid, Speaker, CEO, Copyright Alliance

“The 2020 ABA Day Digital events provided an outstanding mechanism for bringing together bar leaders from across the U.S. to discuss key challenges and legislation that are important to our members and to so many others. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to share why the CASE Act is critical to creators in this country, and how it will enable them to protect their works and livelihoods.”

Jennifer Springer-Joseph, First-time Advocate, US Department of Labor

“Having never advocated before, I was not sure what to expect or if I was even making a difference. But having the ABA walk me through some of the easier ways of reaching out to my member of Congress first, made me realize how easy it really was. My member was really receptive of everything I had to say, and I am actually looking forward to reaching out again. I am going to look into going to Washington next year, but I really appreciated having the online portion as a first year participant.”

Robert Kutcher, Teleconference Participant, Louisiana State Bar President

"While being quite different than previous ABA Day events, we were glad to be given the opportunity to meet with certain of our Congressional staffs remotely by participating in ABA Day Digital. It was certainly a different experience. The ability to meet this ABA Day was of particular importance as we shared with our Congressmen the essential, front-line position that civil legal aid organizations play in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tools provided by the ABA truly allowed us to expand our reach. Visiting remotely allowed us to include directors of the Louisiana Legal Service Programs in our visits who were able to share civil legal aid information relevant to constituents affected by the current health crisis.  The social media templates encouraged the LSBA and other Louisiana organizations to tweet and post to Facebook. The template letters and emails increased the contact from supporters with our Congressional Delegation.

We appreciate the willingness of Senator Cassidy’s and Representative Abraham’s staff members to meet with us. They were attentive and supportive. Besides allowing us to continue this important effort, visiting remotely allowed us to maintain the LSBA’s 20 year tradition of participating in ABA Day in Washington!"

Gene Vance, Long-time ABA Day Attendee, Stoll, Keenon, Ogden, PLLC

"As a longtime ABA Day attendee, I was concerned that the virtual model would not allow for as much useful interaction.  My concern was without merit.  Virtual ABA Day worked very well for us.  We had excellent visits with several of our Kentucky members and other visits with very capable staff members.  Although we spent time on each call lamenting our inability to visit in person, each call, whether video or otherwise, was very productive and resulted in useful and supportive conversations on the ABA’s legislative priorities for 2020.  Having a virtual event allowed for greater participation and I think a combination of in-person and virtual should be considered for future events."