Posted Mar 17, 2004 08:46 am CST
As the national voice of the legal profession, the American Bar Association responds to important issues facing our country and its citizens. During the past decade, the association has initiated more than 600 programs addressing a wide range of public concerns–from child abuse to the legal problems of the elderly, from domestic violence to professional responsibility of lawyers, from juvenile crime to issues facing the homeless.
These programs do not happen by themselves. They depend not only on the hard work of the ABA members and staff, but also upon the vital support of three ABA entities: the Fund for Justice and Education, the American Bar Foundation and the American Bar Endowment.
The FJE is a charitable entity that provides funds through contributions to support a wide array of ABA programs including the Center on Children and the Law, the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, the Center for Pro Bono, and the Legal Services Division, among many others. It also houses the ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which was created to encourage racial and ethnic minority students to attend law school and to provide financial assistance to these students. And the fund provides support to the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s public service initiative.
Financial support for the FJE comes from the association and the ABE, as well as from individual lawyers, law firms, corporations, foundations and government agencies. Their generosity allows the FJE to provide funding to nearly 200 programs each year that otherwise would not exist. As we develop and implement these outstanding programs, we often rely upon in-depth research to provide the solid groundwork upon which we may base our efforts. When questions arise–such as: How do juries respond to trial lawyers and expert witnesses? What factors influence the initial careers of young lawyers and their satisfaction with the practice of law? How do law firms seek to avoid conflicts of interest?–We turn to the research fellows of the American Bar Foundation.
The ABF was established in 1952 as an independent nonprofit national research institute. Its scholars provide insightful examination of the theory and functioning of the law and the legal profession. Whether it be understanding the contribution of legislation, social activism and choice to the economic progress of African-Americans in the 20th century or examining how limited funds and lawyers shape the market for the delivery of legal services for the poor, the ABF provides the high-quality research and analysis that allow the ABA to address the problems and issues facing our profession and our communities in a meaningful way. The ABF is supported by the fellows of the American Bar Foundation, private grants and the ABE.
The ABE is a charity that provides funding for education, research and public service activities within the field of law. Its success depends on the participation of ABA members in its insurance programs and their contribution of the resulting plan dividends to help fund the hundreds of public service activities of the FJE, as well as the research and educational activities of the ABF. During its more than 60-year history, the endowment and its members have provided in excess of $167 million to advance legal study and research, and to promote the administration of justice in the United States. The ABE offers six different plans of insurance designed by lawyers for lawyers, providing ABA members with a portfolio of protection. Members who participate in ABE-sponsored insurance plans and leave their dividends with the endowment are eligible for charitable contribution deductions on their personal tax returns.
Approximately 90 percent of participating members elect to donate their dividends to the endowment. In this way, members contribute to improving the quality of justice in the United States while gaining important insurance protection for themselves and their families.
All three organizations are essential to the association. Without them, our good intentions and hard work might never see the light. I want to thank all members and staff of the FJE, ABF and ABE who labor behind the scenes and those who financially contribute–for they help the ABA in its mission to defend liberty and pursue justice.