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Lawyers, policymakers connect during ABA Day 2014


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Lawyers, policymakers connect during ABA Day 2014

By John Glynn

ABA Day, the association’s annual effort to connect policymakers with their constituents in the legal profession, attracted participants from across the country to Capitol Hill.

ABA Day 2014 participants from New Jersey (from left to right) David Wolfe, Thomas Prol, Karol Corbin Walker, Jonathan Wolfe, Bill Ferreira meet with congressional staff to discuss funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

Nearly 350 bar association volunteer leaders — from local, territorial, state and specialty bar associations, as well as from the ABA — met with their elected representatives to discuss issues of critical importance to the legal profession and the public. 

This year’s ABA Day, April 8-10, focused on funding for the Legal Services Corporation and opposition to burdensome tax reforms affecting law firms, among a handful of other priority concerns.

The Legal Services Corporation is the single largest provider of civil legal aid in the nation, distributing 95 percent of its federal appropriation to 134 legal aid programs, with more than 800 offices. Today, the number of people who qualify for LSC assistance is at an all-time high, with more 63.5 million Americans eligible for such aid.

The need for legal aid is expected to rise even further, and ABA Day participants urged their representatives to support President Barack Obama’s request of $430 million for the LSC — about $65 million more than the funding level in fiscal year 2014.

ABA Day participants also opposed pending tax reform legislation that would impose substantial new financial burdens on lawyers. Specifically, the proposal would require law firms and other personal services businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $10 million to use the accrual method of accounting rather than the traditional cash receipts and disbursement method.

The proposed reform could result in law firms paying taxes on income that they have not yet received and may never receive. Moreover, the legal profession would suffer even greater financial hardships than other groups because many lawyers are not paid by their clients until long after the work is performed, ABA Day participants argued.

In addition to meetings with legislators, ABA Day recognized members of Congress and grassroots advocates for their support on a variety of issues of importance to the legal profession and the administration of justice.

For more resources related to ABA Day 2014, click here.

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