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What Does the American Bar Endowment Do?

Each year ABE grants support a wide variety of public service, research and educational programs within the legal profession, through the activities of the ABA Fund for Justice and Education and the American Bar Foundation.

ABE's funding of the ABA Fund for Justice and Education provides substantial support for the public service activities of the Young Lawyers Division. Each year, the Endowment sponsors a special award for Outstanding Public Service in recognition of an exceptional, unique, and exemplary project of an affiliated young lawyer bar group.

During its more than 70-year history ABE and its members have provided over $258 million in support of its charter purposes to advance legal study and research and to promote the administration of justice and uniformity of judicial decision throughout the United States.

I Contribute My Dividends Every Year... How is the Money Used?

Each year ABE makes grants to support hundreds of law-related research, public service and educational projects through the activities of the ABA's Fund for Justice and Education and the American Bar Foundation.

ABE's unique role in the ABA family is to "Fund the Future" of the legal profession through continued financial support to the FJE and ABF. (See the links below for further details on some specific programs ABE grants have supported.)

In order to "Fund the Future" we need your help and support. Member participation in our insurance plans is the lifeblood of the Endowment. Without your support and the dividend contributions made by participating members, we would not be able to continue our nearly 60-year tradition of grants to the American Bar Foundation and the ABA's Fund for Justice and Education.

ABA Fund for Justice and Education

For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, ABE has granted over three million dollars to help the ABA Fund for Justice and Education (FJE) fulfill its mission of advancing the public service and educational programs of the American Bar Association.  For 50 years, the FJE has strengthened the ABA’s ability to protect the elderly, represent the impoverished, advocate on behalf of youth in crisis, and defend human rights – here and abroad. 

Every year, the FJE supports over 200 ABA public service and educational programs that help the ABA and is members improve our justice system and address the growing legal needs of our communities.  These programs are divided among five main areas of concentration:

(1) Access to Justice (2) Children and Family Rights (3) Public Education
(4) Professionalism and the Legal Profession (5) International Justice  

Below are a few examples of activities in each of these five main programmatic areas.

Access to Justice
Commission on Homelessness and Poverty
Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice
Death Penalty Representation Project

Children & Family Rights
Center on Children and the Law
Commission on Domestic Violence
Commission on Law and Aging

Public Education
Division for Public Education
Breast Cancer Task Force
Young Lawyers Division Public Service Project

Professionalism and the Legal Profession
Center for Professional Responsibility
Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
Commission on Women in the Profession

International Justice
Center for Human Rights
Rule of Law Initiative
Section of International Law

For more information on all these projects or for further information on the ABA Fund for Justice and Education, please call 312-988-5927.

American Bar Foundation

For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, ABE has granted over three million dollars to help the American Bar Foundation (ABF) fulfill its mission as a non-profit, independent national research institute committed to basic empirical research on law and legal institutions. For more than 60 years, the Foundation's research projects have served to expand knowledge of the theory and functioning of law, legal institutions, and the legal profession.

Foundation researchers use a wide array of research methods, such as sample surveys, observational studies, documentary analysis, structured interviews, statistical analysis of major data sets, experiments, and historical and comparative analysis.

Listed below are some of the ABF project which ABE is currently helping to fund:


From Law School to Later Life: The purpose of this research is to increase our understanding of how the large-scale entry of women with men into the profession in the last quarter of the 20th century has changed both the profession and these lawyers who are now in the later stages of their careers.

After the JD: The After the JD (AJD) project is an empirical study of the career outcomes of a cohort of almost 5,000 new lawyers, offering both a nationally representative picture of lawyer career trajectories and an in-depth portrait of the careers of women and racial and ethnic minority lawyers.


Optimizing the Jury Instruction Process: This project studies approaches courts can use in revising jury instructions.

Accessing Justice in Contemporary America: The Community Needs and Services Study: This community-sited, multi-method study investigates the American public’s experiences with problems that fall within the purview of the civil justice system.

Public Interest Law Firms: Using a multi-method research design, this project investigates how lawyers in public interest law organizations (PILOs) conceptualize and pursue their goals.

Public Opinion and the Civil Justice System: What do people think of the civil justice system? This project seeks to answer that question against the backdrop of the politics of tort reform and the changes in the law that have resulted from the tort reform movement.


Home Foreclosures and Criminal Violence: This is a study of the patterning of bank foreclosures in Chicago and the possible relationship of foreclosures to neighborhood increases in person and property crime.

Imprisonment and Neighborhood Political Participation: This project explores the impact of mass imprisonment and other aspects of the criminal justice system on political behavior.  A book stemming from the project, entitled Punishment and Participation: How Criminal Convictions Really Threaten American Democracy, is in preparation.

Parental Incarceration and Intergenerational Social Exclusion: “The Long Arm of the Law”: This study is designed to better understand the difference that parental incarceration makes in the life of an adolescent.

World Justice Project: The World Justice Project, sponsored by the American Bar Association, seeks to broaden and institutionalize the network of organizations and individuals committed to advancing the rule of law.


Crime, War and Wealth in Pre-and Post-Invasion Iraq: The U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq by Coalition forces coincided with a transformation in crimes against persons and property. Drawing on three data sets outlining the experiences of a diverse sample of Iraqis in Baghdad and beyond, the research will assess whether and how in Iraq ethno-sectarian strong state repression was followed by a weak state in which fears about safety, protection, and resource needs in turn caused extensive sectarian looting and violent crime by gangs and militias.

Global Norms for the Rule of Law: This study analyses the different ways in which global institutional actors (the UN, the World Bank, the International Commission of Jurists, the World Justice Project) define ‘rule of law’ through a close reading of the texts and practices of these institutions in order to investigate global norms for the rule of law.


Suing Henry Ford: America's First Hate Speech Case: This project examines a well-known event in the life of Henry Ford -- a 1927 federal libel lawsuit against him and his antisemitic newspaper -- from the perspective of the people who sought to stop him. 


Pursuing Law’s Promise: Researching Access to Justice in 21st Century America: Through a series of innovative empirical research projects, Pursuing Law’s Promise investigates Americans’ experiences with their civil justice problems and the institutions of remedy that exist to serve them. The goal is to produce new knowledge essential for policy makers and service providers as they seek to respond to the legal needs of the public today.

Cause Lawyering in Context: The Constraints and Opportunities of Practicing Public Law in Public Interest Law firms will provide an unprecedented, empirical portrait of a national sample of the public interest bar.


Surrogate Decisionmaking at the End of Life: An Observational Study: This grant supports an observational study of our brothers’ keepers, as families, significant others, friends, and guardians interact with health care providers, day after day, in two demographically diverse intensive care units in a large urban teaching hospital. 

The Impact of Banks, Regulation, and Taxes on the Survival and Operation of Entrepreneurial Ventures: This project is using confidential data from the U.S. Census about the characteristics of entrepreneurs and small business owners to examine the impact of tax and other policies on the operation of entrepreneurial ventures.  



For more information on all these projects or for further information on American Bar Foundation, please visit their website at www.americanbarfoundation.org or call 312-988-6500.


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