Bar News - May 18, 2012
Jon Ross Receives Advocacy Award from American Bar Association
The ABA recognized L. Jonathan Ross for decades of dedicated advocacy to the cause of access to justice at a reception held April 18 in Washington, DC.
L. Jonathan Ross, 2nd from left, receives plaque recognizing his participation in ABA advocacy on justice issues, from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Flanking them are at left are William Hubbard, Chair of ABA Day Planning Committee, and Bill Robinson, ABA President, at right.
Meeting with US Rep. Frank Guinta (second from right) are (left to right) ABA State Delegate Jon Ross, NHBA President Jennifer Parent, and ABA Association Delegate Russell Hilliard.
Ross, a shareholder at Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer, with offices in New Hampshire and Vermont, and a past president of the NH Bar Association (1985-86) received one of five ABA Grassroots Advocacy Awards presented this year at a reception at the US Supreme Court. "Jon is an unyielding campaigner for legal services and an incredibly effective advocate for access to justice," said ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.
Ross has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve free legal services for the poor. He is former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, and currently serves as State Delegate for New Hampshire in the ABA House of Delegates.
Ross has testified before Congress regarding the Legal Services Corporation on behalf of the ABA. He annually attends ABA Day in Washington, regularly meeting with members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation and other lawmakers on funding for the Legal Services Corporation and other justice issues.
Last year, Ross 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.
When he was informed of the award, Ross said: "I accept this award only as a stand-in for the many who do this necessary work every day. The need for advocacy for legal services for the poor is never ending. We must continue to keep our views before our government in order to ensure equal access to justice."
At the ceremony, which included US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ross spoke about the need for access to justice as it relates to poverty. Referring to today’s political rhetoric about supporting at least a "safety net" for the poor, he remarked: "A safety net is not okay. We all have a professional and moral responsibility to do more and to make access to our system of justice open and available to all."
Ross, as a state bar president, helped persuade the ABA to pay greater attention to lobbying on justice funding issues in the mid-1980s when LSC faced serious challenges to its funding during the Reagan administration.
"Jon Ross, along with former NHBA executive director, Gail Kinney, helped organize a grass-roots national coalition, Bar Leaders for the Preservation of Legal Services for the Poor, that spread information and marshaled support of local, city, and state Bars to advocate for equal access to justice," wrote Jeannine McCoy, the current NHBA executive director who was an assistant to Kinney at the time, in an NH Bar Journal tribute to Pro Bono’s history, published in Winter 2003. McCoy observed that the grass-roots effort of contacting and coordinating the efforts of local and state bar leaders was "no mean feat in the pre-Internet, pre-email era!"
Ross’s energy and unwavering dedication to equal access to justice led the NHBA to name its most prestigious Pro Bono award, the L. Jonathan Ross Award for Outstanding Commitment to Legal Services for the Poor, in his honor. It is presented annually by the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Program at the Midyear Meeting.
Ross has been active in ABA leadership, including service as a member and chair of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, as chair of the National Caucus of State Bar Associations, and a stint as chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. Today, he is a member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Bar Services and Activities and regional chair of the State Membership Committee for the Northeast, and the Credentials and Admissions Committee of the House of Delegates.
Ross received one of the five ABA Grassroots Advocacy Awards on ABA Day 2012, an event that brings distinguished lawyers from 50 states to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues such as funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the Violence Against Women Act, and the collection of overdue state court ordered fees.
Other recipients of 2012 ABA Grassroots Advocacy Awards include George Cauthen of Nelson Mullins et al; the State Bar of Michigan; the Supreme Court of Texas; and Betty Balli Torres, Texas Access to Justice Foundation.