In addition to providing funding and other key support for legal aid and related initiatives, government at all levels plays an integral role in ensuring access to justice in many other ways.
Administrative hearing processes are the principal forum for adjudicating a number of important issues at all levels of government, and ensuring fairness and due process in those procedures is critical. Government also plays an affirmative role in ensuring access to justice in a number of important ways, most notably in criminal and juvenile justice issues but on many civil issues as well. And laws passed by Congress and state and local legislators can promote or hinder access to justice.
Given the vast scope of issues falling into those categories, the CBF normally does not attempt to take a lead advocacy role in this context. However, the CBF periodically will take a more active role in advocacy on issues of this nature when there is a systemic issue that significantly affects access to justice and we determine the CBA and CBF can have a positive impact. Recent examples of this advocacy work include:
• Advocating to restore full FDIC coverage for Interest on Lawyers' Trust (IOLTA) Accounts. This coverage was at risk in 2010 due to an oversight in other financial regulation legislation passed by Congress. Full FDIC coverage is necessary both to protect client funds and to provide a key source of funding for legal aid programs, and after a robust nationwide advocacy effort led by the ABA, Congress restored full coverage for IOLTA in late 2010.
• Co-chairing the Illinois Task Force on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children
• Taking a leadership role in the DHS/ICE Immigration Enforcement Working Group