Incoming ABA President Carolyn Lamm is counting on feedback in February from a new commission to push along the association's response to the recession.
“We’re working as fast as we can,” said Lamm, who becomes president tomorrow.
The ABA Commission on the Economic Crisis, created in June and seated with members during the current annual meeting, will deliver the results of its assessment by the ABA midyear meeting in February, she said in an interview.
Lamm, who is a partner with White & Case in the firm’s Washington office, said she hopes the commission will offer a legislative proposal for federal funding of state programs to pay for legal services for cash-strapped homeowners grappling with foreclosures. There are not enough pro bono attorneys to handle the public demand, she said.
The commission will also study the economic impact on the legal profession and what can be done to help lawyers who have lost their jobs, graduating law students who must pay off their law school debts even though they don’t have jobs, and lawyers who have lost their retirement savings, Lamm said.
To that end, the ABA recently created a portal on its Web site with links to job openings and services. Another goal is to list existing law-school debt relief programs on the site within the next month, Lamm said. A proposal for legislation to provide additional relief for debt-carrying lawyers who can’t find jobs or who have had their start dates postponed is also under consideration, she said.
“This again is very much in development,” Lamm said. “It is not yet a program. We’re in a period of assessment.”
She said the ABA is studying whether to reduce dues rates for solo practitioners, judges and public-interest lawyers, whom a survey found to be more sensitive to the membership cost. There are already hardship waivers for lawyers who have lost their jobs and a recessionary price for others who qualify.