Annual Meeting Attendees Receive Update on Association’s Legislative Advocacy Efforts
Speaking to attendees at the Legislative and Governmental Advocacy Update session, ABA President-Elect Stephen Zack outlined a number of issues on which the ABA Governmental Affairs Office has been active.
Specifically, Zack mentioned funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the Red Flags Rule and judicial compensation. Without the ABA, there would be no LSC, he noted. It is unacceptable that 80 percent of the civil legal needs of the poor are not being met. We’re working to ensure that LSC is funded at a level of $440 million, a 10 percent increase, continued Zack. One way that ABA members can help is to become involved in ABA Day. If a lawyer wants to devote “one day a year to the association,” it’d be that day.
A second issue with which the association has been vigorously involved is the Red Flags Rule. The ABA has been working to exclude lawyers from the Federal Trade Commission rule that requires lawyers to establish identity theft identification programs under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. It is a serious attack on the legal profession and, if enforced, the cost to the profession would a minimum of $300 million annually, and a maximum of $3 billion a year, said Zack.
The ABA’s motion for summary judgment for declaratory and injunctive relief from the Rule’s application to lawyers was granted late last year, and enforcement of the rule has been postponed until January 2011. Taking up these fights the way the Governmental Affairs Office does is perhaps the greatest benefit the association offers to the profession, Zack opined.
A second portion of the program included a description of how medical-legal partnerships work in practice. After medical doctor Dana Weintraub explained the types of cases she faces that may have an underlying legal component, Brooke Heymach explained how the legal community can help through the training of providers to ask appropriate questions, such as those relating to appropriate education of children and ability to pay rent or put adequate food on the table; providing direct intervention with families; and also in creating policy, such as working to modify code inspections so that families would not have to live in mold-infested apartments.
Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tom Harkin, Evan Bayh and Christopher Bond would promote medical-legal partnerships.
Finally, Martin Lybecker, who worked alongside the Governmental Affairs Office, explained how the successful effort on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was attained. Mary McQueen, president of the National Center for State Courts, spoke to the critical issue of funding for state courts and how the bars can help. Specifically, McQueen mentioned a PSA campaign launched by the State Bar of Georgia and the principles of funding from The Florida Bar.