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ABA: Advancing the Rule of Law & Enhancing Diversity

3 pages
565 words
Wesleyan University
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The American Bar Association (ABA) is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and students studying law founded in 1878. It is a non-profit organization not particular to any jurisdiction in the United States of America (USA). Its mission is to provide equal service to its members; advance the rule of law; advocate for quality legal education, ethical conduct, and professionalism and promote competence; eliminate biases and enhance diversity.

The Purpose of ABA

The most essential responsibilities of ABA are establishing standards for law institutions and formulating model ethical codes related to the law occupation in the USA and beyond. In 1908, it was tasked with formulating professional ethical standards in the US. After setting standards, ABA is required to maintain a code of moral standards for lawyers. In 1983, The Model Rules of Professional Conduct (formerly Model Code of Professional Responsibility (1969) was formulated. Both ethics and professional responsibility issues on ethics are led by the Standing Committee which interprets both the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Usually, ABA Formal Opinions are cited as persuasive especially when courts interpret state-adopted Rules of Professional Conduct.

Relations of ABA to Criminal Justice Standard and Ethics

For over 50 years, ABA has contributed to setting Criminal Justice Standards and Ethics to guide policymakers and practitioners in the field of criminal justice. These standards aim at governing the professional conduct where the performance of practicing attorneys are regulated. Sometimes these standards include language from the Model Rules of Professional Conduct for purposes of consistency. However, the standards attend to matters beyond those overseen by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Consistency also ensures lawyers' ethical conduct is regulated. For instance, ethically, lawyers are expected to maintain loyalty and confidentiality to their clients and keeping them informed and advised of any significant developments and outcomes concerning their cases.

Interesting Facts

When I started studying ABA websites, there are some facts about the associations I did not know. Initially, I thought the association constituted practicing lawyers and law students only. After reviewing the website, I have come to understand that the association represents more than 400,000 members from every legal arena. Members include judges, practicing and non-practicing lawyers, court administrators, law professors, law students, among other members.

Also, although it lacks legal authority to punish and fine lawyers who do not adhere to ABA's ethical code, it has an influence on other state bars with those obligations. Besides, it plays a significant role in reforming court systems, evaluating federal judges nominated by the president, proposing state and federal laws, accreditation of law schools, among other functions.

Significance to Criminal Justice Students

ABA pay an essential role in the career of criminal law students and law schools. ABA sets standards for every lawyer and any aspiring law student. It defines the path in a law career. ABA is responsible for establishing academic requirement and accrediting schools offering law programs. The accrediting body of ABA is the Council and the Accreditation Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. It is the official accrediting of law programs. The council consists of faculty deans, judges, practicing attorney, among other members. Therefore, if a school is not accredited, it cannot offer law programs or if it does its students cannot practice law in the United States.


American Bar Association, (n.d.). Topics & Resources: Ethics. Retrieved from:

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