100 Years of Working for Justice

The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense is the oldest standing committee in the ABA. Inspired by the book "Justice and the Poor," written by Reginald Heber Smith in 1918, Charles Evans Hughes implored the American Bar Association to examine the legal needs of the poor at its 1920 convention. Using his considerable influence as a former Republican presidential nominee, former U.S. Supreme Court justice, and president of the Legal Aid Society in New York, Hughes successfully pushed for creation of the standing committee--becoming its first chair--to help the ABA address the significant issues raised by Smith's book regarding the inaccessibility of legal services by the poor. In celebration of the centennial of its founding, SCLAID is undertaking the wide range of activities described below.

A Timeline of SCLAID History

Learn more about SCLAID's history in advancing access to justice in public defense and civil legal aid over the past 100 years, and download a history book created specifically for the 100th anniversary.

Learn - More

SCLAID Centennial Speaker Series and Events

Information about upcoming free educational programming on the future of civil legal aid and public defense will be posted here as details become available, as well as other events associated with our 100th anniversary celebration.

Download - Materials

Educational Programming

During its 100th anniversary celebration, SCLAID is sponsoring and presenting a number of CLE programs, many of which are free for ABA members.

Explore - CLE

SCLAID Centennial Access to Justice Award

SCLAID is launching a brand-new award specifically for young lawyers in public defense and civil legal aid practices. The first awards will be presented at the 2020 ABA Annual Meeting.

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Updating Civil Legal Aid Standards

SCLAID is undertaking a review of its Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid in 2020 and moving forward to update relevant provisions, which have not been revised since 2006. Input from the civil legal aid community is invited and welcomed at the below link.

Respond To - Survey

ABA Constitutional Amendment

At the 2020 ABA Annual Meeting, SCLAID will be presenting to the House of Delegates a proposed constitutional amendment that will update SCLAID's charter that will both better reflect its current work and focus as well as look forward to its role in the future.

Read - Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Be a Part of SCLAID's Future

Throughout its 100 years of existence, SCLAID’s work would not have been possible without ABA membership dues. Today's public interest lawyers of all practice backgrounds are able to join the ABA for significantly reduced dues rates of as little as $75 per year. These dues are critical to supporting not just the work of SCLAID, but also that of many other ABA public interest entities. Plus, membership provides a wide array of benefits tailored to the needs of our public interest practitioners. Join the ABA and support both our and your future!

Explore - Public Interest ABA Membership

Thank you to our contributors

Become a Contributor

Join the above list of donors in advancing the cause of access to justice.