This year marks the 25th annual ABA Day. On April 20 and 21, the ABA Governmental Affairs Office (GAO) looks forward to hosting thousands of bar leaders, attorneys, law students and other legal professionals as they connect with their Members of Congress online.
For 2021, the ABA again had to cancel the in-person portion of ABA Day because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With congressional offices remaining closed to the public for the past year, the ABA also has had to adjust its advocacy strategy and techniques. We look forward to hosting our second fully virtual event in April, building on the successes from last year and helping ABA Day participants to do the same, so that together we can advance our issues in the digital space.
The ABA works hard to serve as the voice of the legal profession on Capitol Hill, but the most important voice Members of Congress want to hear is yours, their constituent. Senators and Representatives want to hear directly from you to help inform their opinions on developing policy issues.
The importance of our constituent engagement with elected officials cannot be overstated. Last year, instead of hosting approximately 300 ABA members in DC to lobby their congressional delegations in person, thousands of legal professionals engaged online through live panels and digital advocacy, Twitter takeovers, Tweetstorms, and virtual meetings. The result? Thirty days after our event, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a major COVID-19 relief bill that contained many of our advocacy issues, including increased funding for legal services for low-income Americans, student loan debt relief, help for homeless veterans, and more funding to expand internet access to rural America.
This year, the ABA’s goal is to support the voices of the legal profession even more. How? By learning from the past and creating exciting programs and additional opportunities for engagement. We will continue to provide the training, issue papers for meetings, online communication tools and panel discussions on which our members rely. We have, however, shortened the formal programming to no more than two hours each day, added exciting congressional and nonlawyer leaders to the agenda, reduced the number of advocacy issues for this event, and created more sample products that participants can use in their states, including letters to the editor, impact video clips, and thank you notes. We also are actively encouraging all members of the legal community to participate in our event. In addition, we are planning to add a second association-wide advocacy event this summer or fall for other key issues that will be ripe for action, such as student debt relief.
Our first advocacy event in April will focus on getting legal aid assistance to those devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income Americans desperately need access to legal help to respond to unprecedented housing, employment, and healthcare challenges, so we are fighting to increase funding for the Legal Services Corporation. Our second advocacy issue for the April event will be to urge Congress to pass legislation that will better protect our judges and everyone who enters our courthouses from harm.
ABA members, along with state and local bar leaders, have been the heart and soul behind ABA Day and its 25 years of proven success, and we urge you and your colleagues to join us again this year. This is your opportunity to engage on issues important to our profession and to the communities we serve. We need all our collective voices to show Congress what a united legal front can do! Visit ambar.org/abaday to learn more about this year’s events.
Don’t have time to attend the entire event? Then sign in when you can to quickly advocate on this year’s issues. Preformatted emails, phone call scripts and social media posts are posted, all guaranteed to get through congressional firewalls without ever having to leave the ABA website. This type of coordinated campaign will flood the Hill with every type of communication and compel Members of Congress to listen to the voices of their constituents and our legal profession.
You can also start helping now by joining our ABA Grassroots Action Team at ambar.org/grassroots or follow us @ABAgrassroots.