Bar News - May 19, 2006
Bar Meets With Congressional Delegation on Legal Services Funding
In an event that is growing in importance, members of the NH Bar participated in the 2006 ABA Day in Washington, when leaders from bars across the country meet with members of their states’ congressional delegations.
NHBA Association Delegate L. Jonathan Ross and John MacIntosh, the Bar’s legislative liaison, met with both U.S. Senators and our state’s two Representatives (and staff members) over two days earlier this month.
Ross, who was elected by the NHBA as the Bar’s delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates and also serves as Chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, said all four lawmakers took time to attend at least part of the meetings and were cordial and respectful of the Bar representatives’ concerns.
Ross said the focus of the meetings was to impress upon the lawmakers the importance of not cutting funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the primary funder of the Legal Advice & Referral Center, which is a key provider of civil legal services to low-income individuals in New Hampshire in collaboration with members of the Bar through the Pro Bono Referral Program.
In the upcoming budget, the Bush administration has proposed to fund LSC at $310 million, which is well below the $326 million it is receiving in the current year and well below the $411 million sought by the LSC Board, which Ross pointed out was entirely appointed by President Bush. In addition to ongoing funding issues, the legal services community has been further strained by losses related to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated not only the clients of legal services in affected states, but also destroyed the offices of key providers in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Ross, who has regularly gone to Washington for “ABA Day” each year for the past decade (at his own expense), encourages individual lawyers to go to Washington for ABA Day as there are many “fundamental issues of fairness’ upon which most lawyers agree. “The fact that you are there is an important statement,” Ross said. “And if we stop going, then they think we have stopped caring.”
In the past few years, the number of attorneys participating in ABA Day has grown from 200 attorneys to more than 300, Ross said.
For information about the Legal Advice & Referral Center, the primary grant recipient of Legal Services Corp. in New Hampshire, see www.larcnh.org. Its Web site, “New Hampshire Legal Services,” has many links to legal information and to providers of legal services. The Web site is supported by funding from LSC and the NH Bar Foundation.