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After the Bar

Public Service

Make a Difference with the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Beth K Whittenbury

Make a Difference with the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

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The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (CRSJ) has several projects designed to give you the ability to make an impactful difference. Right now. Your practice does not need to include civil rights. All you need is a desire to serve and a drive to effect change. These projects include the Civil Rights Civics Institute (CRCI), the Policy Implementation Initiative, the Voting Rights Service Initiative, and the Civil Rights Connection Platform. Take a look at the complete list of projects. 

The Civil Rights Civics Institute

Recent events have highlighted the need for civics education in America. To answer this call, CRSJ set up the Civil Rights Civics Institute (CRCI) to answer civil rights–related questions from students across the nation. Recognizing that a common understanding of democratic principles can help unify the nation and combat political divisiveness, the CRSJ set out to see what other entities within and without the ABA were doing to provide civics education resources. The Section determined students had no place to ask attorneys for answers to civil rights questions. Thus, the CRCI was born.

Like the ABA’s Free Legal Answers program, the CRCI is an outreach initiative that allows lawyers to interact safely with the public. CRSJ has gathered questions from students across the country, targeting those students from traditionally underserved communities.

Now, with 173 questions to answer, we need your help in formulating succinct answers that convey the proper tone and are educationally effective. Our site states that the answers cannot be relied upon as legal advice but rather are general education answers. We are answering these questions through both zoom-recorded videos and written answers. All answers will eventually be housed on the CRSJ website on our special CRCI page.

We also need willing and competent volunteers to review the proposed answers for possible microaggressions before recording or posting. If you would like to help with this project, please contact Linda Herr. She will be happy to discuss the next steps with you.

Policy Implementation Initiative

Our Policy Implementation Initiative will advocate for the adoption and implementation of ABA policy passed by the ABA House of Delegates, which focuses on civil rights issues. Our members feel strongly that we shouldn’t just make a statement by passing policy but that we work to establish the policies that effectuate needed change. This initiative will cover a wide range of activities but will likely focus on identifying those within each state willing to interact with local officials and legislators. If you would like to help with this project, please contact Paula Shapiro

Voting Rights Service Initiative

Our Voting Rights Service Initiative allows members to help protect and advance the voting rights of vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, those residing in long-term care facilities, and people with limited English proficiency. The Section launched this initiative by partnering with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law on Election Protection and creating a voting rights toolkit to equip community leaders to identify and prevent voter suppression that vulnerable populations may face. As the 2022 elections draw closer, we need your help with this initiative. We also house a Voting Rights Task Force open to any members of our Section. The Voting Rights Task Force works on the cutting edge of voting rights issues and currently focuses on redistricting issues as new lines are drawn in response to the recent census data.

Civil Rights Pro Bono Opportunities

If you are looking for pro bono opportunities, please check out the CRSJ Civil Rights Connection Page, where you can find pro bono opportunities in the areas of civil rights and social justice. We welcome your participation through our committee work, where we address civil rights and social justice issues by developing appropriate programs, projects, and proposed ABA policy around 22 substantive areas.