After several years hosting virtual programs, the American Bar Association held its annual ABA Day at the U.S. Capitol March 28-29, 2023. Since the Capitol was closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization has primarily held digital advocacy events recently. This year, national, state, and local bar leaders returned to the Capitol for in-person meetings with Members of Congress and staff. According to the ABA, 170 advocates attended the in-person program. Another 200 individuals either met with their elected officials locally or participated in the ABA’s online digital event.
One of the primary advocacy goals of this year’s ABA Day was to encourage robust congressional support for the Legal Services Corporation, particularly as many government funded programs may receive less funding in the coming years. The LSC supports legal aid offices across the country. During a virtual portion of the ABA Day program, ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross emphasized the importance of legal aid to helping individuals in need who may not be able to afford an attorney on their own.
Several Members of Congress, including Co-Chairs of the Access to Legal Aid Caucus Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and Kelley Armstrong (R-ND) also spoke about the importance of legal aid programs and the ABA’s support of LSC. Representative Scanlon, a former LSC Board Member, stated that the ABA’s advocacy on behalf of the organization brings a certain “gravitas to the issue that is difficult to ignore.” Representative Armstrong said, “As the cost of litigation goes up . . . I just can’t imagine a program that we need to continue funding and servicing.”
The ABA Governmental Affairs Office coordinated a social media campaign so individuals who were unable to travel to the Capitol can still participate online. This included creating an online digital toolkit that contained suggested hashtags, posts, and graphics. The ABA is encouraging legal professionals to keep the conversation going on their social media channels. There is also a congressional messaging portal that allows individuals to continue sending messages to their Member of Congress expressing support for LSC.
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