WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2024 — The American Bar Association issued its annual ABA Impact Report, which describes many of the tangible ways the ABA has helped its members use the power of law to advance the legal profession’s voice for justice in the United States and throughout the world.
The ABA works to protect civil rights and liberties; expand access to justice for underserved and disadvantaged communities; promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal field and justice system; advocate for human rights defenders; strengthen legal systems across the globe; and promote the rule of law.
“The 2023 ABA Impact Report underscores our unwavering commitment to justice and equity across a wide spectrum of issues,” said ABA President Mary Smith. “It showcases the depth and breadth of the ABA from championing the rule of law to empowering the underserved, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. This report illuminates the extensive reach and positive impact of our work, both domestically and internationally, as we stand united in our efforts to uphold democracy and advance the rule of law.”
The report, compiled by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative and Center for Public Interest Law, highlights many of the ABA’s major achievements in the past year and the large impact the association has had around the world.
Among the achievements detailed in the report are:
- The ABA’s advocacy for robust funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) helped LSC receive a $71 million increase over 2022 to $560 million. During the pandemic, the association advocated for emergency LSC funding to help those impacted by COVID-19 and in 2021 supported additional disaster relief funding for LSC, $40 million of which Congress provided.
- In Ukraine, the ABA Center for Human Rights published a report focusing on three practices employed as part of Russia’s filtration of Ukrainian civilians: filtration-related detention, torture and forced relocation.
- The research and work of the ABA Center on Children and the Law (CCL) was cited in a recent rule published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that grants foster care agencies flexibility to design foster parent licensing standards that respect the unique circumstances of kin caregivers. CCL’s research showing that children who live with kin while in foster care have better mental health outcomes, increased family stability, a better sense of belonging, higher rates of family reunification and greater success in school was cited as part of the basis for the rule change.
- For the past 12 years, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative has provided legal scholarships to women at universities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has helped 72 women become lawyers there.
- The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty published Model State Statutes: Youth and Young Adult Homelessness, a comprehensive resource guiding state and local level advocacy efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness by better addressing barriers to benefits, education, employment, vital documents, health care and housing.
- The ABA Commission on Immigration developed multiple creative models to increase limited-scope pro bono service delivery, including: Pro Se+ Asylum Representation (in partnership with HIAS); Pro Se Asylum Representation Series ; Afghan Re-Parole Clinic; and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Clinic. Additionally, tens of thousands of migrants were served along the Texas and California border by the commission’s Immigration Justice Project and ProBAR, and thousands of attorneys and legal advocates were trained and supported with technical assistance by the Children’s Immigration Law Academy.
- In response to a disturbing trend in the inappropriate use of adult guardianship, the ABA Commission on Law and Aging published “Defense Against Guardianship: A Lawyer’s Guide to Representing Individuals in Guardianship Cases,” the first comprehensive guide to developing and presenting a case to avoid guardianship or to advocate for the modification or termination of a guardianship.
- ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Plea Bargain Task Force released a report highlighting key findings about the current use of plea bargains summarized in 14 principles meant to guide plea practices in the future.
- Through a ROLI program of judicial exchanges, 19 judges and one judicial assistant from Georgia traveled to the U.S. to learn about American court practices, freedom of expression, child protection, people-centered justice and case-flow management.
- ABA Free Legal Answers, the first and only online national pro bono legal advice portal, has responded to more than 330,000 civil legal questions from persons in 43 participating jurisdictions unable to otherwise get help with their legal problems from other resources. Additionally, people may now ask and get responses to questions about two federal areas of law, immigration and veterans benefits.
The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.