The Federal Bar Foundation Turns 50
By Thomas E. Bezanson
On June 19, 1964, a group of public spirited lawyers filed the Certificate of Incorporation of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Inc., which later became the Foundation of the Federal Bar Council, Inc., and in 1991 the Federal Bar Foundation of familiar name today. This June, Thursday the 19th, is auspicious as it marks the Foundation’s fiftieth anniversary and the beginning of the next 50 years of service to our legal community.
The Court Visits Program
Thanks to the generosity of its contributors, the Federal Bar Foundation has been able to support the Federal Court Visits Program administered by the Justice Resource Center through which nearly 4,000 middle and high school students have been able to observe courts in session, tour the courthouse, and meet with a federal judge. The Foundation also has been able to grant financial support to student interns benefitting from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices Student Internship Program. The Foundation’s marking of its fiftieth anniversary by celebrating access to the courts reflects its enthusiasm for these programs and forward looking hopes to expand upon them.
The Foundation, working with the Federal Bar Council, also supports many continuing legal education programs throughout the year, including those of the Fall Bench and Bar Retreat and Winter Bench and Bar Conference of the Council and law clerk video conferences, most recently focusing on 42 U.S.C. § 1983 litigations, which was attended by 94 law clerks in 12 locations in every district of the Second Circuit.
In preparation for presentation later this year is “Courthouses of the Second Circuit,” a book surveying the architecture and history of these courthouses through photographs, landmark cases, and interesting personalities who brought the law to life in those precincts.
So too, we look forward to opportunities to support the expanding, innovative work of the Federal Bar Council’s Public Service Committee, which was excellently described in the last issue of the Federal Bar Council Quarterly in an article by Lewis Liman and David Olinenstein. In sum, this committee has worked to support the Second Circuit’s courts and has advanced the causes of expanding access to justice, providing counsel for immigrant litigants and other pro se litigants, and providing practical CLE training.
All of this is made possible by the generosity of the Foundation’s contributors. Through the alchemy of philanthropy, they were able to convert money into programs that bring concrete benefits to so many. In recent years, the Foundation has received sufficient, or sometimes nearly sufficient, annual contributions to support its programs. About one half of the contributions come from only 20 donors, so there is encouraging room for growth. As noted above, expanding access to the courts and providing advice to litigants in need of assistance are high priorities and are in keeping with our shared commitment to lawyerly public service.
The fiftieth anniversary of the Foundation is an occasion to reflect with pride upon its accomplishments, but, more importantly, to look forward to vigorous years of service to come.