CHICAGO -- The American Bar Endowment, a non-profit sponsor of group insurance and charitable giving programs for the more than 407,000 members of the American Bar Association, has donated more than $7.5 million to improve the justice system and foster the highest ideals of the legal profession.

The grant funds come primarily from the voluntary contributions of insurance dividends by ABA members who purchase ABE-sponsored insurance policies.

At a special ceremony held during the ABA House of Delegates Meeting at the ABA's Annual Meeting in New York in August, the ABE awarded grants of more than $3.75 million to the ABA Fund for Justice and Education and more than $3.75 million to the American Bar Foundation.

"Since our founding in 1942, the ABE has donated more than $224 million to fund research, public service and educational projects in the legal profession. Our donations this year to the ABA Fund for Justice and Education and the American Bar Foundation mean these organizations will continue to undertake important legal research that improves justice for all of us while supporting legal scholarship funds, programs for the elderly, children and the disabled," said ABE President Rod Mathews, Richmond, Va.

Unlike most insurance available today, ABE-sponsored insurance programs are specifically tailored to the needs of lawyers and have a unique charitable giving feature, which allows member lawyers to donate their dividends each year. Approximately 85 percent of the lawyers participating in ABE-sponsored insurance voluntarily donate their dividends each year to the Endowment.

In turn, the ABE annually makes grants to fund the work of the ABF and the ABA FJE. The ABF (www.americanbarfoundation.org) supports ground-breaking research into areas such as discrimination, the civil jury system, internationalization of legal values and the rule of law.

The FJE (www.abanet.org/fje) supports programs such as Law Day, the ABA Center for Pro Bono, the ABA Legal Scholarship fund that provides scholarships to minority law students, and hundreds of programs that provide legal assistance to those in need. It also helps protect the legal rights of children, the elderly, the disabled and the poor.

With approximately 35,000 certificates in force, the American Bar Endowment has one of the largest insurance programs for American lawyers and one of the only insurance programs with a charitable-giving feature that advances the goals of the legal profession.

The American Bar Endowment has promoted the public service goals of ABA members for more than 60 years. For more information about the American Bar Endowment and the insurance plans available, contact Communications Director Kelly Abeles at 312/988-6407 or by e-mail at kabeles@abendowment.org. The ABE Web site is at www.abendowment.org.

With more than 407,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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