ABA President Urges State and Local Bars to Remove Barriers For Military Lawyers in Local Courts
CHICAGO, May 22, 2008 – A letter from the American Bar Association asks state and local bar associations to support rules that would allow military lawyers to represent service personnel in civil matters in state courts other than in states where the lawyers are licensed.
ABA President William H. Neukom and retired Marine Corps Gen. Earl Anderson, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance to Military Personnel, point out in the letter that when service members are the target of unfair practices, the mere availability of in-court representation by military lawyers can often lead to a negotiated resolution.
The letter further urges that state and local bar associations remove other barriers to court access for military lawyers. Service members may be unable to afford civilian representation, or the legal disputes may be relatively minor, but “even small legal burdens can create enormous distractions when added to the special burdens faced by military families,” said Neukom and Anderson.
The ABA letter was accompanied by a letter addressed to “State Bar Presidents and Executives” signed by the judge advocates general of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. They note that when local businesses know that military lawyers cannot do more than write letters and request negotiations, service members often find themselves unable to achieve a fair resolution of even the most frivolous legal issues.
Both letters ask the state and local bar associations to support local versions of the ABA Model Rule to expand legal assistance for military personnel. The ABA Division for Bar Services’ Web site posted the letter from Neukom and the accompanying letter from the judge advocates general.
With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.