Posted Nov 25, 2006 06:47 am CST
Annually, the ABE grants money to the ABA’s Fund for Justice and Education (FJE) and the American Bar Foundation (ABF). This year, the ABE granted $7,355,546 ($3,677,773 each) to the FJE and ABF. (Please refer to the picture below showing the awarding of the grant checks to the FJE and ABF.) The granting of this money from the ABE supports legal public service, educational, and research projects.
ABE sponsored insurance plans have a unique charitable giving feature. ABA members who participate in these plans get quality insurance and a chance to give back to the field of law. ABA members have access to insurance plans underwritten by New York Life, such as Group 10 and 20 Year Level Term Life, Group Term Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, Hospital Indemnity, and Office Overhead Expense Insurance Plans. In addition, the ABE sponsors products underwritten by United States Life Insurance Company consisting of Disability Income Protection, Excess Major Medical, and (new to ABE this year) Retirement Contribution Disability Insurance. Members who are insured through ABE sponsored plans are asked to donate any dividends generated by their insurance policy(ies) back to the ABE–this makes members eligible for a charitable deduction on their federal income taxes.
In turn, the ABE grants this money to the FJE and ABF to support legal, public service, and educational projects.
ABA President Karen Mathis asserted, “The ABE’s support of both the ABF and FJE is essential for the advancement of the field of law. And, because ABE’s sponsored insurance and charitable giving products are designed by lawyers for lawyers, they are an excellent resource for members of the ABA.”
The ABE also offers a Charitable Gift Fund (Donor Advised Fund). The ABE Charitable Gift Fund, or ABE CGF, provides ABA members an excellent venue for charitable giving. ABE’s CGF allows members to make charitable donations without the trouble of writing out individual checks to each cause to which a member wishes to donate. All administrative duties are handled by the ABE, and the member only files one receipt (prepared by the ABE) at tax time to claim his or her deduction. ABE’s CGF truly makes charitable giving the way it was meant to be–easy.
ABA members alone provide the platform from which ABE may continue its good works to advance the field of law. Members who donate their insurance generated dividends to the ABE help to fund projects such as “Answering the Call” and “The Benefits of Unanimous Jury Verdicts.”
The Endowment also has a fund that is kept invested for long term support of grantees. Monies may be added to that fund by direct gift or bequest, or, when the Board of Directors deems prudent, by allocation of a portion of the annual dividends to the fund. Currently, 10% of donated member dividends are placed into the fund.
In 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed referral to legal services as one of the most critical first steps a physician should take after learning that his or her patient is HIV positive.
Partially funded by ABE grants to the Fund for Justice and Education, a public service project of the Young Lawyers Division, “Answering the Call” strives to educate the legal profession regarding the inequities that challenge persons afflicted with HIV/AIDS. For example, employment discrimination, equal access to public benefits, and receiving equality in the immigration process all act as common legal obstacles for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Seth Levy, the Young Lawyers Division’s Public Service Coordinator for “Answering the Call,” explains that, “The project encourages lawyers to reach out to those individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Likewise, the program helps to get members of the legal profession to engage in issues that may be outside of their comfort zone.” Another advocate within the program, Danny Van Horn, shares one of his experiences while working with a client of the program. “My client was a 56 year old man in the final stages of AIDS. Medicinal interactions were causing my client to misbehave within his public housing environment. His family having shunned him, he faced a real possibility of not having anywhere to go if he were evicted from his current living situation.”
Van Horn further recounts, “While preparing to walk into the courtroom to have his case tried, he looked me in the eyes and told me, ‘I don’t want to die homeless.’ Those are words I never want to hear again, but I took comfort in the knowledge that this program helped to make sure that this fellow human being did not die on the streets.” When asked about the ABE’s support of the FJE, Robert Stein, former ABA Executive Director, acknowledged, “The generous support from the American Bar Endowment enables the ABA to do remarkable things, from protecting our nation’s youth to strengthening the legal system.
The ABE grant to the Fund for Justice and Education–nearly $4 million every year–helps support a wide range of programs that benefit both the profession and the administration of justice in our communities. On behalf of the FJE, I want to thank the ABE and its members who donate their insurance dividends for helping improve our quality of justice and making a difference in the lives of those in need.”
As part of an ongoing project, aided by grants from the ABE, Shari Seidman Diamond, a Senior Research Fellow for the American Bar Foundation, looked at the psychology involved with a jury that is not required to reach a unanimous verdict.
Diamond and her colleagues received permission from the Arizona Supreme Court to videotape not only the Civil Court trials (trials that do not require a unanimous jury verdict) but they also recorded the deliberations of jurors. Then, the research team also distributed questionnaires to the jury, attorneys, and the judge after the conclusion of the trial.
Upon analyzing the videotapes and questionnaires, Diamond and her team found that the majority of the juries not only mentioned that a non unanimous verdict was an option but referenced it early in the deliberation process. Diamond remarked about the project, “One of the pleasures about studying the jury is that it produces surprises. Easy answers and common stereotypes are often wrong. Here, we learned that outvoted minority jurors are neither strange nor irrational–so that requiring unanimity can have rewards for the deliberative process.”
Robert Nelson, Director of the ABF, said, “The ABE provides two thirds of the total revenue of the ABF, and is, therefore, essential to the functioning of the Foundation’s research program. ABE funding makes it possible for the Foundation to conduct landmark empirical studies on such issues as the legal needs of the public, the changing dynamics of legal careers, and the opportunities for women and minorities in the profession, how civil juries actually deliberate, the roles of lawyers in promoting constitutional rights and democracy in the United States and abroad, the impact of anti discrimination law on social justice and equality, and of the legitimacy of our criminal justice system.”
As a wholly owned subsidiary of the ABE, American Bar Insurance Plans Consultants, Inc. (ABI) provides additional insurance plans for ABA members, their families and law firms. ABI’s plans complement the Endowment’s with plans such as Group Variable Universal Life, Health Insurance Consulting Services, Long Term Care, or Employment Practices Liability, and Auto and Homeowners Insurance.
Recognizing that more law firms are providing additional benefits for their partners and employees, over the past two years, ABI has focused on development of insurance programs for the law firms of ABA members. The products made available to the law firm reflect discounts that ABI can negotiate through its affiliation with the ABA. The ABI provides a dividend to the ABE to support the grants ABE gives to the FJE and ABF. This of course increases ABE grants.
For additional information, please contact the ABI, toll free, at 1-800-445-9862, email at email@example.com, or visit ABI’s Web site at www.abiins.com.
For more information on the projects supported by the ABE, and for information regarding ABE’s products, members may call 1 800 621 8981, email us at information@ abendowment.org, or visit the ABE Web site at www.abendowment.org.
Each year at the ABA Annual Meeting, the ABE honors a Young Lawyers group with the Outstanding Public Service Project Award. The purpose of the Award is to recognize a project that really exemplifies the good works of lawyers in the community.
This year, the ABE recognized the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) as the winner of the award. The association (based in Austin) took on the sensitive topic of the effects of divorce on children in a project titled “Kids in the Crossfire: Helping Parents Understand the Impact of Divorce.”
Chair of the Project, Lee Ann Reno, explains, “We felt the need to help parents understand the negative effects their behavior can have on children during and after a divorce. We wanted to make people cognizant of their actions as they go through the divorce process.”
The TYLA interviewed judges, attorneys, counselors, parents, and children about their experiences in terms of divorce. Capturing each interviewee’s experience with a video camera, the TYLA made a film showing an honest and moving look at divorce through a child’s viewpoint.
The Project team, consisting of 30 TYLA members, distributed the video and brochure to approximately 1,000 courts, counseling programs, legal aid offices, lawyers, family bar and parent coordinator organizations throughout the state. In addition, since the project’s front page appearance on the Texas Bar Journal, the TYLA has received additional requests for approximately 400 more videos.
The American Bar Endowment recently announced the amount of policy dividends available from its group insurance programs. For each program, the approximate amount of net policy dividends as a percentage of premium paid is shown below.
• Life Insurance: 23 percent of premiums due and paid for the period June 1, 2005, through May 31, 2006.
• Disability Income: 48 percent of premiums due and paid for the period November 1, 2004, through October 31, 2005.
• Hospital Indemnity: 40 percent of premiums due and paid for the period November 1, 2004, through October 31, 2005.
• Accidental Death & Dismemberment: 24 percent of premiums due and paid for the period August 1, 2005, through July 31, 2006.
• Excess Major Medical: 15 percent of premiums due and paid for the period March 1, 2005, through February 28, 2006.
• Office Overhead Expense: 47 percent of premiums due and paid for the period July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006.
Members may request a refund of the dividends attributable to their participation by submitting a written request by mail to the American Bar Endowment, 321 N. Clark Street, 14th Floor, Chicago, IL 60610, fax to 312 988 6401, or email to dividends@ abendowment.org, or online at www. abendowment.org. (Please be sure your member number is on the request.) Requests for refunds can be sent starting January 1st, but must be received no later than December 15th, each year.
When a request for refund is received, a confirmation will be mailed to you acknowledging the request. If the confirmation is not received within three weeks, contact the ABE to obtain another. Members who leave their dividends with the ABE to aid its charitable work are eligible for a charitable contribution deduction on their individual income tax returns. Notice of the exact amount of contribution will be mailed in late January.