The American Bar Association advocates for the legal profession every day of the year. Through its Governmental Affairs Office, the association lobbies Congress and government agencies on issues important to lawyers and the justice system.
But each year, ABA members amplify the ABA’s voice by working together as lawyers and constituents to address priorities of the legal profession. This year, “ABA Day 2021: Advocacy for Justice,” will be held April 20-21. Due to the pandemic, the event will be a fully virtual event for the second consecutive year and is designed to build on the successes from last year and help ABA Day participants to do the same, so issues can be advanced in the digital space.
Last year, more than 15,000 people joined online conversations to discuss legal important issues. The result? Three weeks after the event, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a major relief bill that included many of the ABA’s advocacy priorities, 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.
Advocacy for this year’s ABA Day will focus on two main issues. First will be getting legal aid to those devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income Americans desperately need access to legal help to respond to unprecedented eviction, domestic violence, employment, and health care challenges. This will require more additional emergency funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
The second issue will be urging Congress to pass legislation that enhances judicial security. Federal judges and those who enter courthouses need better protection. One priority is pushing legislation to require federal agencies to maintain the confidentiality of judges’ personally identifiable information and to authorize funding for state and local governments to adopt similar measures.
ABA Day original programming will include exciting congressional and nonlawyer leaders including LSC advocate and University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). ABA Day participants are also being offered several sample products they can adapt for their own advocacy, including letters to the editor, constituent video clips and thank-you notes. A second ABA-wide event will be held later this year for other key issues that will need advocacy support, including student debt relief.