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Support the fight for justice this August

JusticeWhen: Aug. 21, 1878

What: Lawyers in the U.S. have to make it through at least 80 credit hours, usually totaling three years, of study at an accredited law school, often followed by licensing and continuing legal education in their area of practice. But even with all of these qualifications, a Gallup poll found that 35 percent of Americans think that lawyers have low honesty and ethical standards. For the past 133 years, the American Bar Association has worked to counter this impression by standardizing attorneys’ ethics and education. Mark the 133th anniversary of its founding this Aug. 21.

Background: In 1878, 100 lawyers from 21 states gathered in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. to form the ABA with the goal of advancing the “science of jurisprudence” and promoting uniform legislation. Today, the association works to standardize legal education, provide services to the public, and uphold legal ethics, among other activities.

Story Pitch: Part of the ABA’s stated goals are to work for just laws and human rights, which ties this event closely to legal rights and justice organizations. Civil rights and advocacy groups should focus on any work the ABA has done in relation to their cause, and discuss how issues of concern to them are currently fairing in the judicial system. Where have attorneys been helping and what has the advocacy group been doing to work with attorneys? Another function of the ABA is to set educational requirements for accredited law schools. In this regard the ABA has been accused of being too strict, while others are concerned that there is now a glut of expensive law schools and attorneys in a poor economy. Law schools and tutors for the LSAT or bar examinations should address these issues and focus on what they do to ensure that their students are ready for and have realistic expectations of their law careers. They should also address how they are adapting to the economy.

Story Hook: Like most industries, the legal field has been hit hard by the economy, and the average income for graduating lawyers is down by an average 10 percent, with a drop of 20 percent in private practices. What challenges do graduates face in the current legal industry? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • How does someone retain pro-bono legal representation or other legal aid?
  • What ethical standards are lawyers and other legal professionals held to?
  • What are some of the requirements that a law school must meet to be ABA accredited?
  • How do the qualifications required of lawyers differ between states or even countries, and what is considered standard?

Tips: Provide contact info for your local Bar Association or a professor of who can comment on the history and current events of the legal field.

Resources:

Association of American Law Schools
(202) 296-8851
aals@aals.org
www.aals.org

American Bar Association
(312) 988-5522
abanews(at)americanbar.org
www.americanbar.org

International Bar Association
iba(at)int-bar.org
www.ibanet.org

National Legal Aid & Defender Association
(202) 452-0620
info(at)nlada.org
www.nlada.org

–Researched, compiled & written by Nick Testa
Event Dates & History Today from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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