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American Bar Endowment 2012 Annual Report                   Bookmark and Share

As published in the November 2012 issue of ABA Journal
Click here to skip to Statement of Activites


ABE Celebrates 70 Years of Caring

A career as a lawyer is an extraordinary calling. But it comes with an important obligation to society – an obligation the American Bar Endowment (ABE) has helped fulfill since 1942.
Lawyers champion legal causes for the greater good of society and help those in need of legal assistance who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer. Lawyers provide legal services to low-income individuals and underserved portions of the population such as the elderly, victims of domestic abuse, and children on a pro bono basis. These community-based efforts are, of course, in addition to the important work lawyers do every day to assist individuals and business clients in securing their futures, defending their rights, and growing their enterprises.

Simply by participating in ABE insurance programs,* lawyers can enhance the way they fulfill their professional and charitable responsibilities.


Funding the Future of the Legal Profession

To fulfill its charitable mission, each year the Endowment makes annual grants to the American Bar Foundation (ABF) and the ABA Fund for Justice and Education (FJE).  From cutting-edge research on the effects of law on society to public service programs directed toward protecting the interests of those inneed in our communities, these organizations are engaged in hundreds of important projects and programs.

“Change with one person providing crucial legal services to our country’s most vulnerable populations.   When ABA members participate in ABE-sponsored insurance plans, they are helping the ABA develop programs that provide lawyers with the resources needed to have a positive impact on our communities all across the country,” said Palmer Gene Vance II, FJE Chair.

FJE serves as a link between a commitment to public service and programs that improve the lives of those who lawyers are entrusted to serve. FJE’s efforts focus on five main areas:   (1) Access to Justice; (2) Children & Family Rights; (3) Public Education; (4) Professionalism and the Legal Profession; and (5) International Justice.

Examples of FJE programs include:

  • Commission on Homelessness and Poverty – provides the bar and national, state and local organizations with the training and resources to advocate on behalf of people who are homeless or poor.
  • Young Lawyers Division’s Project Salute –  partnering with the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, the Division’s young lawyers were able to obtain VA accreditation, which enabled them to provide advice to veterans about available benefits and to assist them in obtaining those benefits.
  • Center for Pro Bono – helps ensure access to justice through the expansion of the delivery of legal and other law-related services to the underserved through volunteer efforts of legal professionals nationwide. 
  • Division for Public Education – reaching more than 25 million people each year, the Division’s programs and publications are designed to inform citizens about the law and our justice system.
  • Commission on Women in the Profession – the national voice for female lawyers that helps ensure that women have equal opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

An examination of the effects of law on society is a core mission of the ABF. The ABF scholars use rigorous research on the law, legal processes and the law’s impact on our society to advance the understanding and improvement of law and the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and the world.

The ABF’s current projects include:

  • Optimizing the Jury Instruction Process – this project examines approaches courts can use in revising jury instructions.
  • Accessing Justice in Contemporary America:  The Community Needs and Services Study – this is a community-sited, multi-method study of the American public’s experiences with problems that fall within the purview of the civil justice system.
  • Conceptualizing, Contextualizing, and Testing the Effects of the Rule of Law – using a mix of research methodologies; this project seeks to identify the conditional mechanisms under which the rule of law produces its desired results.
  • Public Interest Law Firms – this research investigates how lawyers in public interest law organizations conceptualize and pursue their goals.

How it Works

  • Purchase Insurance – ABA members purchase ABE-sponsored insurance* and get quality, affordable coverage from trusted insurers such as New York Life Insurance Company and The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York.
  • Donate Dividends – ABA members who donate any available dividends from their ABE-sponsored plans are eligible for charitable contribution deductions on their personal income tax returns. (Dividends are not guaranteed.)
  • Support Good Works in the Profession – With funds from these donated dividends, the ABE makes yearly grants to the FJE and the ABF, which support more than 200 legal public service, educational and research projects of importance to the profession.
  • ABE Cares for ABA Members and the Profession – By making annual grants to the FJE and ABF, the ABE fulfills its charitable purpose of improving the administration of justice, one of the profession’s highest obligations.  In turn, members not only receive quality, affordable insurance designed just for lawyers, but contribute to good works in the profession.

For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, member dividends made it possible for the ABE to make grants of over $6.3 million to the FJE and the ABF.  Over the Endowment’s past 70 years, the generosity of members through the contribution of their dividends has enabled the ABE to grant more than $252 million in support of research, public service and educational projects. 

“Participating in ABE-sponsored insurance is a wonderful way for lawyers  to obtain important insurance protection while at the same time supporting  the good works of the profession. The insurance is specially designed by lawyers for lawyers.  Application is simple and easy, and the experienced Endowment staff is available to provide information and assistance.   All in all, it’s a great win-win for every ABA lawyer,” said Christopher L. Griffin, ABE President.

ABE-sponsored insurance plans are designed specifically for lawyers by lawyers and protect members and their families.  With the unique charitable giving feature, members receive quality, affordable insurance and give back to support the highest ideals of the profession.  To learn more about ABE-sponsored plans exclusively for ABA members (including plan features, costs, eligibility, renewability, limitations and exclusions), call 800-621-8981.  The toll-free help line for solo and small firm members is 877-621-7676.


Additional Resources for ABA Members

For other types of insurance programs, the ABE’s wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary – American Bar Insurance Plan Consultants (ABI) – provides a helpful resource.  ABI offers a variety of insurance that ABE cannot offer because of its dividend structure including annuities, employment practices liability, air ambulance, personal umbrella, major medical, long-term care and auto/home insurance.  For more information about these plans, call 800-445-9862 or visit www.abiins.com.  ABI transfers the bulk of its year-end operating surplus to the ABE as a dividend, to be used to support ABE’s charitable mission.



*The ABE’s five insurance programs include term life†, disability‡, professional overhead†, accidental death & dismemberment† and hospital money plan insurance†.

All ABE-sponsored plans are group insurance plans, meaning coverage is issued to an ABA member under a Certificate of Insurance. It is not provided under an individual policy, nor is it employer/employee insurance.

†Underwritten by New York Life Insurance Co., 51 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010 on Policy Form GMR.
‡Underwritten by The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York. Plans may vary and may not be available in all states.


ABE 2011-2012 Policy Dividends

The American Bar Endowment recently announced the amount of policy dividends available from its group insurance programs. For each program, the approximate amount of net policy dividends as a percentage of premium paid is shown below.

Life insurance:
32.7 percent of premiums due and paid for the period June 1, 2011, through May 31, 2012.
Disability Income:
18.43 percent of premiums due and paid for the period November 1, 2010, through October 31, 2011.
Hospital Indemnity:
33.52 percent of premiums due and paid for the period November 1, 2010, through October 31, 2011.
Accidental Death & Dismemberment:
Premiums due and paid for the period August 1, 2011, through July 31, 2012 were less than claims and expenses incurred, consequently there will be no dividend.
Excess Major Medical:
Premiums due and paid for the period March 1, 2011, through February 29, 2012 were less than claims and expenses incurred, consequently there will be no dividend.
Office Overhead Expense:
Premiums due and paid for the period July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012 were less than claims and expenses incurred, consequently there will be no dividend.

Members may request a refund of the dividends attributable to their participation by submitting a written request by mail to the
American Bar Endowment, 321 N. Clark Street, 14th Floor, Chicago, IL 60654-7648, fax to 312 988-6401, or email to dividends@abendowment.org. (Please be sure your member number is on the request.)

Requests for refunds can be sent starting January 1st, but must be received no later than December 15th each year. When a request for refund is received, a confirmation will be mailed to you acknowledging the request. If the confirmation is not received within three weeks, contact the ABE to confirm receipt. Members who leave their dividends with the ABE to support its charitable work are eligible for a charitable contribution deduction on their individual income tax returns.

Notice of the exact amount of contribution will be mailed in late January.


Changes in unrestricted net assets:

Revenues and gains:   
     Contributions  $7,417,345
     Income on long term investments  2,709,102
     Net unrealized and realized gains on investments  (1,503,526)
     Insurance premiums received  26,974,498
     American Bar Insurance Plans  150,503
     Other income  302,075
Total unrestricted revenues and gains  36,049,997



     Life program  1,167,321
     Disability program  813,720
     Hospital Indemnity program  141,073
     Excess Major Medical program  240,390
     Accidental Death and Dismemberment program  340,785
     Office Overhead Expense program  36,449
     Other Programs  121,743
     Insurance premiums paid  26,983,645
     Management and general  209,557
     Grants paid  6,581,251
     Pension  740,520
     Income taxes  37,182
Total expenses  37,413,636
Increase in unrestricted net assets  (1,363,639)

Changes in permanently restricted net assets:

     Donations  12,733
     Net unrealized and realized gains (losses) on investments  (340)
Increase in permanently restricted net assets  12,393

Change in net assets before cumulative effect adjustment  (1,351,246)
     Cumulative effect adjustment  -

Change in net assets after cumulative effect adjustment  (1,351,246)
Net assets at beginning of year  98,832,427
Net assets at end of year  $97,481,181


American Bar Association Fund for Justice and
Education for support of its public service programs  $3,290,625
American Bar Foundation for support of its research
programs and administration  3,290,625
Total  $6,581,250


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  • Toll Free: 800-621-8981
  • Solo/Small Firm Toll Free Help Line: 877-621-7676
  • 321 N. Clark St, 14th Fl. Chicago, IL 60654