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April 08, 2024

American Bar Association honors Rep. Armstrong, legal aid groups NLADA and NAIP with ABA Day Awards

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2024 — The American Bar Association will present its Grassroots and Justice awards Wednesday, April 10, as part of ABA Day, the association’s two-day annual lobbying event. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) will receive the Justice Award, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and the National Association of IOLTA Programs will receive the Grassroots Award.

ABA Day brings together lawyers from all 50 states to engage with their elected officials on issues important to the legal profession. This year, lawyers will look to influence legislation surrounding legal aid and federal defender funding. This year’s ABA Day activities will unfold in person on Capitol Hill, at meetings in home districts and through online messages and phone calls nationwide.

The ABA supports full funding for the Legal Services Corporation, now in its 50th year. The LSC was created to promote equal access to justice by providing funding assistance to civil legal aid programs that exist in every congressional district.

The ABA is also advocating for increased FY2024 funding for federal public defenders. The Sixth Amendment requires that those facing federal criminal prosecution be provided a lawyer if they cannot afford one, but under proposed 2024 spending levels, hundreds of layoffs to an already understaffed program would be needed.

Other issues being addressed include support for attorney-client confidentiality over prison email systems, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and reforms to student lending.

What:   ABA Justice Award Presentation

When:  Wednesday, April 10, 8 a.m. EDT

Where: ABA Day Breakfast
Holiday Inn Washington Capitol — National Mall
550 C Street S.W.
Washington, D.C.

Rep. Armstrong will receive the Congressional Justice Award, which acknowledges "leadership on issues critically important to the legal profession." Historically, Armstrong has worked continuously across the aisle on criminal justice reform bills that the ABA includes as priorities. He has supported legislation reducing mandatory minimums for drug offenses and for funding and strengthening public defense systems at the state and federal levels.

Armstrong is the lead sponsor of the EQUAL Act, H.R. 1062, a bill that would equalize penalties for crack and powder cocaine-related offenses, a position of the ABA since the 1990s. He is the lead cosponsor on the EQUAL Defense Act, H.R. 3758, a large messaging bill in support of public defense at the federal and state levels. The bill includes funding for public defense programs and would set caseload standards, as well as collect important data.

What:   Grassroots Award Presentations

When: Wednesday, April 10, 12:30-1 p.m. EDT

Where: ABA Headquarters on the Hill
2043 Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Ave SW
Washington, D.C.

NLADA, America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel, is being honored for providing advocacy, guidance, information, training and technical assistance for members of the equal justice community, especially those working in public defense and civil legal aid. NLADA works in partnership with LSC and the ABA to advocate for additional funding for access to justice in this country and is committed to supporting many of the ABA’s advocacy efforts, including public student loan repayment/forgiveness programs. April Frasier, president and CEO of NLADA, will accept the award on behalf of the association.

NAIP, a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization for funders of civil legal aid established in 1986, supports the growth and development of Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) programs and works to increase access to justice for all. NAIP and the ABA Commission on IOLTA work closely together, serving as the central source of information and expertise essential to the effective management of IOLTA programs that enhance the access to justice delivery system. NAIP membership is collectively the largest funder of civil legal aid in this country. Christine Fecko, general counsel of NAIP, will accept the award.

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 and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.