MBA delegation meets with legislators on ABA Day in D.C.

Issue May 2007 By Lee Constantine

MBA President Mark D Mason, President-elect David W. White Jr. and Legislative Activities Manager Lee Ann Constantine participated in American Bar Association Day in Washington, D.C. on April 19.

Mason and White, along with leaders from the Boston Bar Association, met with members of the Massachusetts delegation to discuss the need for increased compensation for the federal judiciary, the importance of fully funding the Legal Services Corporation and the erosion of attorneyclient privilege that has occurred in recent years and to thank them for their past support of these issues.

ABA Day is designed to give leaders of state and local bar associations throughout the country the opportunity to discuss key issues of interest to the organized bar and bring them to the attention of Congress through individual meetings.

The federal judiciary’s last compensation increase took effect in 1992. In addition to being denied compensation increases, federal judges have not received cost of living adjustments in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2007. Since 1992, when adjusted for inflation, federal judges’ pay has declined 10.8 percent while the average American worker’s salary has increased 18.5 percent and most federal workers’ compensation has risen 15 percent.

“It is vital to our justice system that we retain our most accomplished and experienced judges and are able to attract talented and highly qualified attorneys to heed the call of public service by becoming judges,” Mason said.

Access to justice for all citizens continues to be a priority of the organized bar.

For fiscal year 2007, LSC is funded at $348 million. For fiscal year 2008, the administration proposed a $37 million cut in funding.

If this cut were to stand, LSC would be funded at $310.2 million, which is less than what they received in 1981. The LSC board of directors is recommending that LSC be funded at $430 million.

Over the past few years, numerous federal governmental agencies have adopted policies that erode attorney-client privilege and work product. The Department of Justice policies set forth in the “Thompson Memorandum” of 2003 pressure companies and organizations to waive their privileges as a condition for receiving cooperation credit during investigations. In 2006, the Department of Justice issued the “McNulty Memorandum,” which falls short of preventing further erosion of attorney-client privilege. The new policy does not end the practice, but requires prosecutors to obtain high level DOJ approval before they demand a waiver of a company’s privilege.