Join #ABADay Digital 2020
What could be more powerful than hundreds of legal professionals converging on the nation’s capital? Thousands more raising their voices in solidarity from across the country. While many have had to cancel events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the ABA is poised to storm the Hill online on April 22 and 23 as planned.
ABA Day is the annual conference at which hundreds of ABA and state and local bar leaders gather in Washington, D.C., to take the message of the legal profession directly to members of Congress.
Why do this? Senators and representatives all agree speaking face-to-face with their constituents is the best way for them to shape opinions on policy issues they are considering. With congressional offices and many federal buildings currently closed to the public, the ABA has adjusted its advocacy strategy to maximize the opportunity that technology gives us to advance our issues in the digital space.
On April 22 and 23, the ABA Governmental Affairs Office is looking forward to hosting thousands of bar leaders, attorneys, law students and other legal professionals online. The importance of this engagement with the Hill cannot be overstated.
Just two years ago, on the day before ABA Day commenced, the Department of Justice announced it planned to indefinitely pause (in other words, terminate) funding for its Legal Orientation Program, which provides legal rights presentations, self-help workshops and other informational programs to over 50,000 detainees around the country annually. The ABA policy team immediately prepped bar leaders and attendees who then took the latest information to their elected officials, many of whom had not yet heard this development.
The result? The program was preserved, and it recently received $18 million in funding for fiscal 2020.
Bar leaders helped achieve similar success last year, fighting for increased funding for the Legal Services Corp. so it could continue to provide legal services to low-income Americans despite an administration proposal to eliminate all funding for the program. Instead, the program received a $25 million increase in funding for fiscal 2020, resulting in its largest-ever appropriation.
So how will we elevate the voice of the legal profession during #ABADay Digital 2020? By using email, traditional mail, phone calls, social media and in-district events that will be coordinated to communicate the importance of our issues.
#ABADay Digital will use digital advocacy tools, social media and participants’ smartphones to show Congress what a united legal front can do.
On April 22 and 23, law students, attorneys and other legal professionals can join the conversation online during a full schedule of events, including expert panels, live Q&A sessions, online campaigns, infographic videos and even a “Twitter takeover” at which different advocates will temporarily control the GAO account to interact with online participants.
Timing is everything when it comes to effective advocacy, so we will also be announcing timed campaigns throughout the event aimed at specific issues during each timeframe. These campaigns will use congressional messaging tools in the GAO Grassroots Action Center so participants can email, call and make directed social media posts without ever having to leave the ABA website. This type of coordinated campaign will flood congressional offices with every type of communication and force the lawmakers on the Hill to listen to the voices of their constituents and our legal profession.
The primary advocacy issues for this year’s ABA Day events will be protecting the atorney-client privilege for inmates; funding for the Legal Service Corp.; and preservation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Our #ABADay Digital program will also include advocacy on expanding broadband internet access to rural communities; authorizing the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund legal services for homeless veterans; and other issues.
Visit ambar.org/abadaydigital to see developments as they are posted; to find a schedule of #ABADayDigital events; and to learn how you and your colleagues can join us to have a meaningful impact on Capitol Hill.
Don’t want to wait till then to get involved? Join the ABA Grassroots Action Team today at ambar.org/grassroots, and add your voice.
This report is written by the ABA's Governmental Affairs Office and discusses advocacy efforts by the ABA relating to issues being addressed by Congress and the executive branch of the U.S. government.