Posted Nov 02, 2009 12:30 am CST
How does the American Bar Endowment (ABE) fit into the ABA puzzle of affiliates, Commissions, Sections, and charitable entities that make your ABA membership so valuable?
This year’s Annual report pieces together the puzzle so you better understand the unique nature of ABE. ABE’s charter purposes are to advance legal study and research and to promote the administration of justice and uniformity of judicial decision throughout the United States. ABE does this by raising money to fund grants each year to fund legal research, education and public service projects. ABE raises money primarily by sponsoring group insurance plans (available exclusively to ABA members) that contain a unique charitable giving feature. Members are asked to donate their share of any dividends on the group policies to the ABE; the individual amounts are relatively small but their impact as a group is huge. Members who donate dividends not only get the satisfaction of joining with the other 85% of insured members who donate in supporting the good works of the Bar, they are eligible for a charitable donation tax deduction for donated dividends.
ABE was founded by leaders of the ABA over 65 years ago as a public charity ABA affiliate. ABE was designed to:
1) receive gifts and bequests; 2) create an income-producing fund; and 3) distribute grants to promote justice through legal education, research and public service programs. At first, ABE struggled to raise money. In 1953, Wm. Clarke Mason of Philadelphia had the idea of asking ABE to sponsor a group insurance policy offering small amounts of life insurance to raise money for the American Bar Foundation which was trying to build a library. After two years of effort, with the approval of the ABA Board of Governors, ABE began offering insurance exclusively to ABA members in 1955. The difference between the insurance plans offered through ABE and most other Bar and professional organizations is the ABE group plans’ unique charitable giving feature. Today ABE sponsors Group 10- and 20-year Level Term Life, Mid- and Long-Term Disability, Retirement Contribution Disability, Excess Major Medical, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Hospital Indemnity and Professional Overhead insurance plans, exclusively for ABA members and their families.
The ABE gives members the opportunity to buy quality, affordable insurance from trusted insurers and at the same time provides members the opportunity to give back to the legal profession in a very easy and meaningful way. This allows ABA members to GET insurance and GIVE back to the legal profession through participating in ABE-sponsored insurance plans. ABE provides insurance that makes a difference…that is the ABE difference!
“ABA members regularly emphasize the importance of giving back. We have created an easy, convenient method for ABA members to give back to help with the public service and education obligations of the Bar, and, at the same time, protect themselves and their families,” said Roderick Mathews, ABE President.
In addition, ABE has experienced Personal Insurance Representatives available to help members determine the ABE-sponsored coverage that’s right for them and their families.
“We’ve found that ABA members like to look to ABE-sponsored insurance plans to meet their insurance needs. Members find comfort knowing that they are buying quality, affordable insurance from trusted insurers and ABE makes it easy. Members can either go to the web or call an 800 number to find plan details, get a personalized rate quote and get an application. Plus, members feel good knowing they can easily give back to the legal profession by donating dividends,” said Stephen N. Zack, ABA President-Elect.
Approximately 85% of members participating in ABE-sponsored insurance plans donate their dividends. Member dividend donations are the primary source of funding for the grants the ABE makes to the American Bar Foundation (ABF) and the ABA’s Fund for Justice and Education (FJE) to support research, public service and educational projects in the field of law. The Endowment is pleased by the level of participation by members who donate their policy dividends.
“The Endowment is part of a long tradition in the ABA,” says William C. Hubbard, Chair of the House of Delegates, “and a partner in a growing profession reaching out to both lawyers and the public. The Endowment provides funding for the future of the profession. We should recognize the high percentage of ABA members who contribute their portion of insurance dividends, as well as all the members who give back in so many ways.There is probably not another group of professionals, or another association, making that commitment.”
This year ABE grants totaled almost $5.2 million, with more than $229 million having been granted since 1942. These annual grants are split between the ABF and the FJE.
Annual grants to the FJE and ABF support more than 200 legal research, public service and educational programs.
The FJE supports programs in six areas including 1) Children & Family Rights; 2) Equal Access to Justice; 3) the Legal Profession; 4) the Judicial System; 5) Social Awareness and 6) International Justice. Some specific projects in these areas include:
• Preventing Foreclosure Initiative—Through this FJE Initiative, a working group comprised of lawyers from diverse practice areas developed programming and resources aimed at equipping lawyers to prevent foreclosure.
• Homeless Court Toolkit—Support from the FJE assisted in the development of Homeless Court: The San Diego Provider Toolkit including a special monthly Superior Court session held at local shelters for homeless defendants to resolve outstanding misdemeanor criminal cases.
• Commission on Domestic Violence—Established in 1994, this commission is one of the few national organizations to focus exclusively on improving the legal response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
“The annual grant from the ABE is an integral part of our annual funding, without which we would be forced to provide fewer projects, and thus have a diminished impact. ABA members who donate their ABE insurance dividends significantly affect our programs, and the people touched thereby.” Alan S. Kopit, Chair, Council of the ABA Fund for Justice and Education.
More information on the FJE is available at www.abanet.org/fje.
The ABF is dedicated to advancing justice through rigorous research on the law, legal profession and the law’s impact on our society.
The portfolio of current research projects at the ABF includes: an examination of the changing face of public interest law practice; a study of the professional lives of young lawyers across the first ten years of their legal careers; an investigation of the claims of genocide in Darfur; an analysis of jury behavior and decision-making; and a series of collaborative programs focusing on the globalization of law.
“The ABF is grateful for the funding provided each year by the ABE. The ABE’s grant allows the Foundation to conduct ground-breaking empirical research that advances the understanding and improvement of law, legal institutions and legal processes. Richard Pena, ABF President.
Information about the ABF is available at: www.americanbarfoundation.org.
An additional resource for ABA members seeking quality, affordable insurance programs, the American Bar Insurance Plan Consultants (ABI) was established in 1989 as a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary of ABE. The ABI provides a variety of law firm and individual insurance programs that the ABE is unable to offer due to its dividend contribution structure. ABI sponsors insurance programs including Personal Umbrella, Medical, Long Term Care, and Auto/Home Insurance and was created to generate an additional source of revenue to support the ABE’s charitable goals. For more information about these programs, call 800-445-9862 or visit www.abiins.com.
No matter what your insurance needs, you’ll be able to find insurance programs designed specifically to protect yourself and your family. With the unique charitable giving feature, you GET quality affordable insurance and GIVE back to the good works of the legal profession. To learn more about insurance programs exclusively for ABA members call 800-621-8981 or visit www.abendowment.org/ar.asp.
From left: Tina Herbert, Genevieve Waller, Elizabeth Acee,
Tiffany Spann-Wilder, N. Lee Cooper, Rebecca Roser and
Fred W. Suggs III.
Past-President of the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD), Tiffany Spann-Wilder and her husband were looking to adopt, but were uncharacteristically at a loss about the legal process. Their loss became South Carolina’s gain as Spann-Wilder conceived the Families Forever project, a program that focuses on adoption awareness. Families Forever provides CLE-qualified training for speakers from across the state, “Family Fairs” with vendors and adoption information, forums on the process of agency vs. private adoption and home studies.
As a result of this project, Families Forever has seen hundreds of South Carolina families participate in its program and an estimated 10 families have completed home studies, been qualified, or already been matched with children.
“Adoption is complicated,” explains Spann-Wilder, “but the South Carolina YLD has found a way to reach out to our communities and make the process more visible and more understandable. By doing that, we are helping families come together and enriching lives.”
The Families Forever project will be recurring and is scheduled to be held in Charleston and Greenville, SC, with a new format to the Family Fairs which will provide attendees with a seminar including handouts on the various types of adoptions and financial resources ideas.
The South Carolina Bar YLD has sponsored a number of programs that provide a positive impact on South Carolina-communities—from racial tolerance, diversity, drugs, domestic violence and mentoring—and now family adoption education. The South Carolina Bar’s Young Lawyers Division (YLD) was recognized as the recipient of the American Bar Endowment (ABE) Young Lawyers Division’s Most Outstanding Public Service Award for its Families Forever service project at the American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The ABE Outstanding Public Service Project Award recognizes projects that demonstrate the good works of lawyers in the community.
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: 28 percent of premiums due and paid for the period June 1, 2008, through May 31, 2009.
• Disability Income: 10 percent of premiums due and paid for the period November 1, 2007, through October 31, 2008.
• Hospital Indemnity: 23 percent of premiums due and paid for the period November 1, 2007, through October 31, 2008.
• Accidental Death & Dismemberment: Premiums due and paid for the period August 1, 2008, through July 31, 2009 were less than claims and expenses incurred, resulting in no dividend.
• Excess Major Medical: 30 percent of premiums due and paid for the period March 1, 2008, through February 29, 2009.
• Office Overhead Expense: 14 percent of premiums due and paid for the period July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009.
(Please be sure your member number is on the request.) Requests for refunds 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 confirm receipt. 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. At the time of printing the ABA Journal the American Bar Endowment’s statement of activities for the fiscal years 2008 and 2009 was not available.
This information should be posted to the ABE website by 11/1/2009 at www.abendowment.org.