Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast: ABA and LSC Presidents on Their Shared Legacy of Legal Aid and Pro Bono Services

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WASHINGTONAmerican Bar Association (ABA) President Reginald Turner and Legal Services Corporation (LSC) President Ron Flagg discuss their organizations’ historic relationship on the latest episode of LSC's “Talk Justice” podcast released today. The conversation, hosted by LSC Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Will Gunn, highlights the ongoing need to expand legal aid and pro bono services.

Every spring since 1997, the ABA brings lawyers from across the country to Washington to advocate for issues important to the legal profession and the justice system. This tradition is called ABA Day, and it was held virtually this year, marking its 25thanniversary. Turner explains that originally the ABA organized support for LSC due to increasing alarm over congressional efforts to eliminate LSC’s funding entirely. By 1996, Congress had reduced funding for LSC by almost half. The ABA’s planned one-time event has transformed into annual advocacy, bringing ABA members and Bar leaders from across the nation to Capitol Hill to lobby their members of Congress.

“Funding for LSC has been a prominent part of our ABA Day advocacy from that first day and this year was no exception,” says Turner. “In fact, advocating for the LSC funding has been our number one legislative issue for many years now.”

This year the ABA also advocated for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which promotes public access by making it more affordable for young lawyers to go into public service like legal aid. Flagg is very appreciative of the ABA’s continued support of LSC and other programs that expand access to justice for low-income Americans, especially amidst persistent challenges.

“Simply put, our biggest challenges are the convergence of surges in unmet legal needs with the chronic underfunding of legal aid,” says Flagg. “And the ABA has played, and continues to play, an indispensable role in educating Congress and the public about these issues and advocating for increased financial support for legal aid.”

Both Turner and Flagg agree that their pro bono cases are some of the most important work they have done in their careers. In his role as ABA president and personally, Turner encourages lawyers to provide pro bono services.

“[Lawyers] don't think about that oath that they have pledged, but I think when they're reminded that the pro bono ethic is part of a pledge that we made to enter this profession, they come and get involved and provide assistance to those who need it,” Turner says. “And it's our job to continue to invite them to do so, to provide the training for lawyers to engage in pro bono work, and to fulfill the rule of law and the pro bono ethic.”

Talk Justice episodes are available online and on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council. The next episode of the podcast will explore newly released data on America’s justice gap.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

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