May 04, 2018

LSC president, health care innovator to speak at ABA meeting exploring access to legal services

CHICAGO, May 4, 2018 — The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association will convene their annual Equal Justice Conference from May 10-12 in San Diego, with more than 80 wide-ranging programs, including talks and panels featuring Legal Services Corporation President James Sandman and ABA President Hilarie Bass.

Equal Justice Conference
Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service


May 10-12

Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel
1 Park Boulevard
San Diego, California, 92101

In addition, Dr. Robert Ross, a medical doctor and president and chief executive officer of The California Endowment, will provide remarks during the opening plenary session on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Established in 1996 to address the health needs of Californians, the foundation has worked to reduce childhood obesity, improve health services for ex‐offender populations and increase racial and ethnic diversity in the health professions.

Bass, co-president of the Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig, will speak at noon on Friday. Bass, president of the ABA since August 2017, has initiated or expanded several ABA programs, including efforts to improve lawyer well-being, legal services to homeless youth, an ABA Legal Fact Check to distinguish legal fact from fiction and a study of why mid-career women are leaving the legal profession.

Sandman, who has been LSC president since 2011, will be participating in two panels. He will moderate “Educating Legislators About Legal Aid 2.0” at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The program is intended to help advocates explain legal aid as constituent services to legislators and staff. Sandman will later participate as a panelist in “Hot Topics in Legal Aid,” which will explore LSC funding challenges, access to justice issues and developments in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The program will be Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Prior to the conference, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service released a study, “Supporting Justice: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America’s Lawyers,” that reached out to about 50,000 attorneys in 24 states, seeking data in such areas as their interest, time spent and key influencing factors related to pro bono work. The report showed that 4 out of 5 attorneys believe pro bono services are important although finding the time to provide free or low-cost legal services to the needy and charitable groups remains the biggest challenge for many.

Other conference highlights include:

“The Criminalization of Poverty: Homelessness, Bail Reform and Employment” — A recent increase in policies and practices designed to banish poor people from public spaces and criminalize poverty threatens the nation’s vulnerable populations. This session will discuss state laws criminalizing poverty, as well as litigation, policies, organizing and media strategies that have worked to combat these laws and practices.

Friday, 3:45 – 5:15 p.m., Sapphire Ballroom L

“Collaborations with Corporations” — The panel will explore successful pro bono partnership projects with legal service providers, law firms and corporations. These collaborations, when done right, can be exceedingly effective at addressing unmet legal needs. The program will examine the necessary ingredients to making these partnerships work over time, including what obstacles to overcome.

Friday, 8:30 – 10 a.m., Sapphire Ballroom E

“Combating Hate: A National Campaign to Protect and Defend Targets of Hate” — Hate-related incidents have increased over the past several years as the country becomes more polarized and individuals influenced by white nationalist, neo-Nazi and anti-Muslim ideologies are emboldened by nationalist and racist rhetoric. This session will describe national efforts by volunteer attorneys and civil rights organizations to combat extremism and stem the tide of targeted campaigns of hate-inspired intimidation, harassment, threats, trespass and violence.

Thursday, 1:30 – 3 p.m., Aqua C

Civil Right to Counsel in the Trump Era: Protecting Vulnerable Communities from Fees/Fines, Deportation, Increased Inequity and More” — The Trump administration has explored or initiated efforts to expand mass incarceration, deportation and asset seizing, as well as to cut legal aid and to pursue a range of other policies that magnify inequality. The panel will examine current right to counsel and related advocacy efforts at the federal, state and local levels in such areas as failure to pay fees/fines or child support (often called “debtor’s prison”), immigration removal proceedings, civil asset forfeiture and eviction defense.

Friday, 3:45 – 5:15 p.m., Sapphire Ballroom P

The conference program can be found here.

Media are asked to register to cover the event. Please contact Bill Choyke at 202-662-1864 or

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