American Bar Association

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The American Bar Association (ABA) is a nationwide organization to which qualified attorneys voluntarily belong. With over 400,000 members the ABA is the largest voluntary professional organization in the world.

The American Bar Association was founded in 1878 to improve LEGAL EDUCATION, to set requirements to be satisfied to gain admittance to the bar, and to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information among its members. Over the years, the ABA has been largely responsible for the further development of American JURISPRUDENCE, the establishment of formal education requirements for persons seeking to become attorneys, the formulation of ethical principles that govern the PRACTICE OF LAW, and the creation of the American Law Institute (ALI) and the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform

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State Laws, which advance the fair administration of justice through encouraging uniformity of statutes and judicial decisions whenever practicable. In recent years, the ABA has been prominently involved in the recommendation and selection of candidates for the federal judiciary, the accreditation of law schools, and the refinement of rules of legal and judicial ethics.

The ABA continues to put great emphasis on promoting diversity within its membership and has initiated several programs designed to bring more women and racial and ethnic minorities into the profession.

The ABA provides various forums through which attorneys continue their legal education during their careers. Its national institutes are held frequently in areas of law that have become topical or have undergone sweeping reform. In conjunction with the ALI, the ABA holds seminars in order to continue the professional education of interested members.

Within the ABA, members may participate in the activities of numerous sections, which range in size from about 3,600 members to more than 60,000 and are organized according to specialized areas of law. Various committees exist that deal with such topics as judicial selection, PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY and discipline, lawyer referral services, and the UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE of law. Other committees are concerned with topical areas, such as prepaid legal services, MALPRACTICE, legal problems of the elderly, and public-interest law.

The ABA is involved in the political process through its seven-person Governmental Affairs Office (GAO), a LOBBYING effort that serves as the "eyes, ears and voice" of the...

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