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April 15, 2024 ABA Day 2024

Rep. Armstrong, legal aid groups NLADA and NAIP honored

The American Bar Association Governmental Affairs Office wrapped up its 2024 ABA Day on April 11, bringing together lawyers from all 50 states to engage with their elected officials and advocate on issues important to the legal profession. Almost 200 people attended events in Washington, D.C., with 39 states sending advocates in person and 11 other states having people meet in home districts or engage with their representatives online using the ABA Congressional Messaging Portal.

Senator Dick Durbin (D - IL) met with ABA President Mary Smith as part of ABA Day 2024 in Washington.

Senator Dick Durbin (D - IL) met with ABA President Mary Smith as part of ABA Day 2024 in Washington.

American Bar Association photo

This year’s issues included the ABA’s support of full funding for the Legal Services Corporation, now in its 50th year. The LSC promotes equal access to justice by providing funding assistance to civil legal aid programs in every congressional district.

The ABA also advocated for increased FY2025 funding for federal public defenders, support for attorney-client confidentiality over prison email systems, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and reforms to student lending.

As part of the event, the ABA presented its Congressional Justice Award to Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND). Armstrong has worked across the aisle on criminal justice reform bills that are ABA priorities. He has supported legislation reducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, including a bill that would equalize penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses, an ABA position since the 1990s. A former public defender, Armstrong has also introduced legislation for strengthening public defense systems at the state and federal levels. “Criminal justice only works if everyone gets it,” Armstrong said in accepting the award.

The ABA also presented Grassroots Awards to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) and the National Association of IOLTA Programs (NAIP).

NLADA, America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford it, was honored for providing advocacy, guidance and training for members of the equal justice community, especially those working in public defense and civil legal aid. April Frazier Camara, president and CEO of NLADA, in accepting the award said, “At NLADA, we believe everyone deserves a fair fight when they enter courtrooms across America.”

NAIP, established in 1986, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for funders of civil legal aid. It supports the development of Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) programs and works to increase access to justice for all. Christine Fecko, general counsel of NAIP, accepted the award.

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