YourABA May 2012 Masthead/td>

All 50 states represented for first time during 2012 ABA Day in Washington

In a historic first, the American Bar Association welcomed participation from all 50 states in the association’s annual effort to connect policymakers with their constituents in the legal profession.

ABA Day in Washington, D.C., brings together bar association volunteer leaders—from local, territorial, state and specialty bar associations as well as from the ABA—to speak to their elected representatives on issues critically important to the profession, to clients and the public at large. 

This year’s ABA Day, April 17-19, focused on funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and the Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act

The Legal Services Corporation is the single largest provider of civil legal aid in the nation, distributing 95 percent of its federal appropriation to 135 legal aid programs, with more than 900 offices nationwide.  In these difficult economic times, fewer and fewer individuals have the means to afford legal representation; yet with home foreclosures, veterans and family law cases, the need is especially great.  Indeed, LSC helps meet the needs of 63 million qualifying Americans, including 22 million children.

Since its passage in 1994, VAWA has provided life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women, men and children who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.  The law was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 with broad bipartisan support; the 2005 reauthorization expired in 2011.

The act saves both lives and money.  In the last 20 years, the numbers of people killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34 percent for women, and 57 percent for men.  There are enormous costs associated with domestic violence, including direct health care expenses, lost work productivity, and lost earnings. 

The bipartisan Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act would provide a cost-neutral way for the federal government to help financially strapped state courts collect overdue court-ordered fines and crime victim restitution.

Lawyers who came to Washington shared personal stories about what these issues—issues that are essentially about access to justice—mean to them and their clients.

In addition to meetings with legislators, the ABA recognized members of Congress and local advocates for their work, including those on behalf of LSC funding, programs that help reduce recidivism, support military families, and others.

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