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Three Lawyers, NY State Bar Receive Grassroots Advocacy Award

Helping servicemembers, protecting legal aid funding, good lawyer regulation practices among efforts honored by _

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2011 — The _ will honor three exceptional lawyers and the New York State Bar Association with its annual Grassroots Advocacy Award at a ceremony in the U.S. Supreme Court building on April 13.

“All of the awardees stand out in their communities as leaders on their respective issues,” said ABA president Stephen N. Zack. “The success of the ABA on Capitol Hill is, in large part, due to our members who make the effort to reach out to their senators and representatives.”

Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-SC) will deliver the evening’s keynote address, expected to begin at 7 p.m. To attend, reporters must contact Rob Boisseau by 5 pm on April 11. No recording devices will be allowed.

The awards are given as part of the ABA’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession. ABA Day in Washington 2011 brings distinguished lawyers from 43 states to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues such as funding for legal services for the poor and the impact of persistent judicial vacancies.

The awardees are:

  • Col. John Odom, (U.S. Air Force Reserves, ret.) Jones, Odom & Politz, LLP; Shreveport, La.
    Odom’s military service spans decades. His service to the nation includes advocacy to enhance the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and to protect military families in custody disputes. The Act has for decades protected the rights of servicemembers while answering the call of duty, but their right to enforce its provisions had been questioned in the courts.  Odom’s efforts helped ensure that our troops can enforce the act through a wider range of tools. Last year, he also returned to active duty to conduct the Department of Defense national study of military child custody cases.  That report has been instrumental in educating policymakers about special issues in these cases and in preventing legislation that would have undermined the rights of parents and children, or made cases more complex and costly.
  • James Felman, Kynes, Markman & Felman; Tampa, Fla.
    Felman played a leading role in the last Congress’ critical decision to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences through the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. As co-chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section Sentencing Committee, he has repeatedly testified at congressional hearings and before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, serving as a key resource for policymakers.
  • Martin E. Lybecker, Perkins Coie LLP, Washington, D.C.
    Lybecker was at the forefront of efforts against proposed provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that would have placed lawyers under the regulatory authority of a new federal bureau. Thanks in part to Lybecker’s outreach, the final version of the legislation contained a robust exemption for lawyers, meaning that state courts continued to regulate lawyers as before.
  • New York State Bar Association, headquartered in Albany.

The New York State Bar Association will receive a Grassroots Advocacy Award for supporting a public policy initiative important to the ABA and the profession. The association authored an amicus brief in support of the ABA’s action against the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to regulate lawyers as “creditors” under the so-called Red Flags Rule. The NYSBA’s brief was subsequently endorsed by 54 state and local bar associations.

The Advocacy Awards event will be held at the Supreme Court on April 13.  Rep. Clyburn’s speech is scheduled for 7PM with award presentations afterwards. Credentialed media who wish to attend are required to contact Rob Boisseau at Robert.Boisseau@americanbar.org by 5 p.m., April 11.

No recording devices (camera/video/audio) will be allowed. Pool photography will be available after the event.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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Learn More About:  Access to JusticeZack, Stephen N.