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The purposes of the Arkansas Bar Association include the following:

Advance the Administration of Justice. Foster and maintain on the part of attorneys high ideals of integrity, learning, competence and public service, and high standards of conduct. Encourage the legal profession and its individual members to perform more effectively and efficiently their responsibilities in the public interest. Conduct a program of continuing legal education for attorneys. Provide a forum for the discussion of subjects pertaining to the practice of law. Perform legal research in technical areas of the law and make reports and recommendations thereon. Improve the judicial and legal process, and advance law and order. Encourage practices that improve the honor and dignity of the legal profession.

Access to the Legal System for the Poor
The United States Constitution guarantees the right to a lawyer in most criminal cases. As mentioned above, the Association has supported efforts to secure this guarantee in Arkansas. But there is no right to a lawyer in civil cases, and the Association has been involved in many ways to provide attorneys for the poor in such instances.
Both in the 1980's and 1990's attempts were made in the U.S. Congress to eliminate or greatly reduce federal funding of the Legal Services Programs, of which there are six in Arkansas. The Arkansas Bar Association along with many other bar associations in our state have continuously made the case for maintaining the federal funding, which comprises most of the Legal Services funds in Arkansas. Without these bar association efforts throughout the United States, the federal funding would have been lost.

In the early 1980's the Association joined with the Legal Services Programs to establish AVLE, Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly. Local bar associations have also established or assisted with other pro bono efforts around the state. A national survey in the early 1990's found that Arkansas ranked 9th in the United States in the per capita percentage of attorneys who participate in organized pro bono for the poor.

The Association has played a leading role in the establishment and expansion of the Arkansas IOLTA Foundation which administers the interest on lawyers trust account program. In response to an Association petition, the Arkansas Supreme Court approved a voluntary IOLTA program in 1984. In the fall of 1993 the Association's House of Delegates adopted a petition requesting the Court to make IOLTA mandatory. This action was challenged unsuccessfully in a membership-wide referendum, with over 60% of the members voting to support a program which mandated their participation. The Arkansas Supreme Court approved the Association's petition in 1994, which resulted in a significant increase in the amount of funds. Today the Arkansas IOLTA Foundation is annually awarding grants totaling over $500,000 for Legal Services to the poor and other projects to improve the administration of justice.

Arkansas Bar Foundation
In 1958 the Arkansas Bar Foundation was established by the efforts of Association leaders who recognized the need for a charitable foundation for the legal profession in Arkansas. The Foundation has made invaluable contributions to legal education, research, and countless projects to improve the legal system for all Arkansans. The history and successes of the Arkansas Bar Foundation are stories in themselves.

The Association periodically publishes guides which are useful to its members. The most popular one has been the Guide to the Arkansas Statutes of Limitations which is a product of the Association's Young Lawyers Section and is in its 4th Edition.

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