Three Lawyers, Michigan State Bar, Texas Supreme Court Receive ABA Grassroots Advocacy Award
The American Bar Association will honor three exceptional lawyers, the State Bar of Michigan and the Texas Supreme Court with its annual Grassroots Advocacy Award during a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court on April 18.
The awards are given as part of the ABA’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession. ABA Day 2012 brings distinguished lawyers from 50 states to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues such as funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and the collection of overdue state court-ordered fees.
The awardees are:
• George Cauthen, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP; Columbia, S.C.
A tireless and passionate supporter of LSC and other legal service organizations throughout South Carolina, Cauthen helps organize his state’s presence and message to elected representatives in Washington, D.C., surrounding this issue. Last year, Cauthen worked to prevent a potentially devastating $104.2 million (25.7 percent) proposed cut to the LSC budget of $404.2 million in fiscal year 2010. While the House of Representatives proposed funding LSC at $300 million, the Senate favored an allocation of $396 million. Ultimately, funding was set at $348 million, in part due to Cauthen’s efforts. Please click here for the full press release about Cauthen receiving the award.
• L. Jonathan Ross, Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC; Manchester, N.H.
Ross has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve free legal services for the poor. A former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, Ross has testified before Congress on behalf of the ABA regarding the Legal Services Corporation. Please click here for the full press release about Ross receiving the award.
• The State Bar of Michigan
Last year, the State Bar of Michigan played an exemplary role in advancing access to justice by successfully advocating for adequate funding for LSC during the congressional budget allocation for fiscal year 2012. The State Bar of Michigan advocated for LSC funding through an ongoing grassroots legislative advocacy campaign that included urging congressional members on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to push for increased LSC funding. Please click here for the full press release about the State Bar of Michigan receiving the award.
• The Texas Supreme Court
Last year, the Texas Supreme Court played a key role in obtaining funding for Texas legal aid programs at a time when state-directed support was in serious jeopardy. The Texas Supreme Court justices lobbied extensively in support of an amendment on a general appropriations bill, which led to $17.6 million in legal services funding from the Texas state legislature. The Texas Supreme Court is now working with other state supreme court justices from around the country, encouraging them to reach out to their state legislatures and their congressional delegations for additional legal services funding. Please click here for the full press release about the Texas Supreme Court receiving the award.
• Betty Balli Torres, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation; Austin, Texas.
As president of the National Association of Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Programs, Torres played a key role in the legislative victory that required the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to fully insure IOLTA. The interest generated from these accounts provides funding for civil legal services for people near or below the poverty line, including the working poor, low-income veterans and persons with disabilities. IOLTA is one of the largest funding sources for free legal services in the country, supporting legal aid offices and pro bono programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Torres also works to ensure that members of the Texas congressional delegation— including key appropriators and Deficit Reduction Committee members—know the importance of funding for the Legal Services Corporation, which helps subsidize legal aid for low-income Americans and provides assistance to lawyers who serve them. Torres also worked with the Supreme Court of Texas and other access to justice partners in the effort to obtain vital funding for legal services. Please click here for the full press release about Betty Balli Torres receiving the award.
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