Thanks to all who participated in this year’s ABA Day, the legal profession’s largest lobby day of the year. For the third year in a row it was held virtually because of ongoing health and security concerns. Fortunately, the hard work conducted by the ABA Day 2022 Planning Committee, under the leadership of Chair Bill Bay, along with the Governmental Affairs Office, to prepare this year’s program enabled the ABA to host another highly successful conference.
The two-day event included video messages from such national political leaders as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, and Sens. John Cornyn, Tim Kaine, and Joni Ernst. Also offering messages were other stalwart supporters of ABA initiatives, including Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Hakeem Jeffries. In addition, Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie offered remarks on her support for the Violence Against Women Act.
More than 600 registered for the event, and almost 400 legal professionals from 47 states participated in the event broadcast, which featured briefings on the event’s advocacy issues and breakout discussions and online get-togethers. Participants could join Discussion Rooms for short updates on the ABA Day featured issue, as well as Issue Lounges on specific topics. There were also general networking digital rooms and an Ask the Lobbyist room. State bar delegations could also use online rooms to strategize how they would conduct their advocacy meetings.
The programs yielded a strong response from participants and those who were following on social media. Over 1,200 advocacy actions were taken over two days: Hundreds of participants met, emailed or called their congressional leaders or staff remotely, while thousands communicated on social media about the issues. “ABA Day” was mentioned almost 2000 times on Twitter and garnered 19,600 likes and retweets. An ABA Day advertisement was seen by more than 21,000 unique users and received 626 total link clicks.
A core programming feature of the event was increased funding for the Legal Services Corporation, which helps fund civil legal aid offices nationwide. LSC President Ron Flagg spoke passionately about the need for more robust funding to help more low income Americans with their legal needs, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and about how ABA Day advocacy by bar association leaders and members nationwide over the last 25 years has significantly helped in that effort.
The two primary advocacy issues were passage of the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act and urging Congress to provide more student loan debt relief. “The need for student debt relief is well known by many of you,” said Chair Bay. “We need to keep the pressure on the administration and Congress to find long-term solutions to this important problem.”
The remaining issues – enhancing judicial security, creation of Article 1 immigration courts, and funding for the recently reauthorized Violence Against Women Act – were featured for online grassroots lobbying.
During our two-day advocacy event, “Student Debt” received a massive spike in mentions on social media, helping to demonstrate the collective impact our advocacy events can have and the importance of timing advocacy issues when engaging with Congress.
The ABA “advocates all year round for issues important to the legal profession,” said Bay. He urged everyone to join the grassroots action team at ambar.org/grassroots for regular updates on Capitol Hill issues that need the legal profession’s help. “Digital advocacy will remain a vital component of our efforts,” Bay said, “but rest assured that in-person ABA Day events will return in 2023.”
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