National Public Service Project 2005-06:
What Lawyers Can Do
In 2001, in a first-of-its-kind recommendation, the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized the criti-
cal role that lawyers have to play in combating the HIV/AIDS pan-
demic when, in its Revised Guidelines for HIV Counseling,Testing,
and Referral, it indicated that a referral to legal services is among
the very first things that should be provided to people when they
learn that they are HIV+. Never before had the CDC recom-
mended an immediate referral to legal services based on some-
one having been diagnosed with a particular disease. This
extraordinary recommendation underscores the unique chal-
lenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. Answering the Call
is the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s response to this call to action
from the public health sector. This national public service project
educates lawyers about the numerous legal issues related to
HIV/AIDS, and encourages young lawyers and young lawyer
organizations to reach out to this community.
The call to action to lawyers across America – indeed, to lawyers
around the world – is not limited to the direct provision of legal
services. To be sure, the legal services that only lawyers can pro-
vide are an essential element of combating the HIV/AIDS pan-
demic. However, there are many other important ways in which
lawyers, their professional organizations, their clients and their
employers can reach out to the HIV/AIDS community. These may
involve assistance in fundraising for AIDS services organizations,
authoring articles or presenting seminars in a variety of settings,
and a host of other things. The number of ways in which lawyers
can help is limited only by our own creativity.
Many communities around the country have organizations with
existing programs that provide a range of services to people liv-
ing with HIV/AIDS. Like those living with the disease, these
organizations exist in communities big and small, urban and rural.
The impact of HIV/AIDS is not bounded by geography, and nei-
ther is the need for lawyers to reach out and help. This brochure
offers some ideas for ways to support the HIV/AIDS community,
either through the provision of traditional types of services typi-
cally offered by lawyers, or by participating in programs suited for
a more general audience. However you choose to reach out to
those living with HIV/AIDS, the ABA Young Lawyers Division
strongly encourages you to join us in Answering the Call.
WHAT LAWYERS CAN DO • WHAT LAW
Provide Legal Assistance and Training
Contact Your Local AIDS Services Organization
Reaching out to the HIV/AIDS community is as simple as picking up the phone. Many
towns and cities around the country have an AIDS services organization or a general serv-
ices public interest organization with a dedicated AIDS project. Find the organization in
your community that provides these services, and contact it to offer your help. Whether
you participate in the organization’s legal services program or gather a group of friends to
paint the organization’s waiting room, the organization you contact will surely be able to
identify a host of needs, and will welcome your support.
To find an AIDS services organization in your community, review the Directory of Legal Resources
for People with HIV/AIDS, available online at www.abanet.org/AIDS/publications/aidsdirectory.pdf.
Provide Training to AIDS Services Organizations
Staff attorneys, volunteers, and others that work at AIDS services organizations require
periodic training on a host of issues, legal and otherwise. Staff attorneys may require
instruction in trial advocacy skills from seasoned litigators, while volunteers in an organi-
zation’s medical clinic might benefit from education on their duties under privacy and
health-related laws with respect to clinic patients. Providing training to staff and volunteers
at an AIDS services organization can be of immeasurable help in assisting the organization
to provide its clients with the most effective services possible.
Present a Seminar on HIV/AIDS Issues for a Company or Law Firm
Many people must deal with issues related to HIV/AIDS in the context of their employ-
ment, yet often have not had the training to properly address them. Attorneys at private
law firms, corporate executives, human resources managers, commercial landlords, health
care providers, and a host of others may confront such issues. By presenting a seminar to
such groups, attorneys can raise the level of awareness about HIV/AIDS, and ensure that,
when people are met with issues involving HIV/AIDS in their professional lives, they are
equipped to handle them properly. Indeed, many AIDS services organizations will gladly
send someone to present a seminar for a private sector employer, if requested.
Conduct HIV Legal Check-Ups
HIV Legal Check-Up is a diagnostic legal needs assessment tool that can be used by lawyers
to identify latent legal issues for people living with HIV/AIDS. From the moment of diag-
nosis – and even before – HIV/AIDS has a significant impact on many critical legal issues
for an individual. Check-Up provides a means for recognizing those issues before they
manifest into major problems. Attorneys need not be fluent in any particular area of law;
rather, Check-Up enables a lawyer to spot legal issues and refer a person in need to appro-
priate services. A special video/DVD and accompanying written materials have been pro-
duced for Answering the Call that provide the tools necessary to implement HIV Legal
Check-Up, and demonstrate how lawyers can easily put Check-Up into practice in a
variety of settings.
For more information on HIV Legal Check-Up, and to order a free copy of the video/DVD and writ-
ten materials, visit the ABA Young Lawyers Division's Public Service page at www.abayld.org.
WYERS CAN DO • WHAT LAWYERS CAN DO
Provide Pro Bono Legal Services to People Living with HIV/AIDS
The array of legal issues confronting people living with HIV/AIDS is vast. Many issues relate
to access to health care and matters of discrimination in employment and housing, but oth-
ers involve the need for debt, bankruptcy and tax assistance, counseling and representation
in connection with immigration matters, and aid with government and disability benefits.
Many people living with HIV/AIDS are of limited means, and cannot afford the legal servic-
es they so desperately require. Indeed, the assistance that lawyers can provide in a variety
of instances can mean the difference between life and death. By providing pro bono rep-
resentation to those with HIV/AIDS, lawyers have an opportunity to truly alter the course
of people’s lives.
Educate the Community
Write an Article for an AIDS Services Organization or
Bar Association Newsletter
AIDS services organizations often circulate newsletters to their clients, donors, and even
to the public at large. Similarly, many state and local bar associations circulate periodic
newsletters to their membership. Numerous legal issues involving HIV/AIDS may be of
interest to the target audience for such newsletters. By preparing an article, attorneys can
help to inform people about the legal rights and challenges that are critical to the HIV/AIDS
community. In fact, in a special issue of Human Rights magazine, the ABA published sever-
al outstanding articles on HIV/AIDS.
To view the special issue of Human Rights, visit www.abanet.org/irr/hr/fall04/home.html.
Organizations can seek permission to reprint these articles in bar association newsletters by con-
tacting Ms. Nicole Maggio, ABA Office of Copyrights & Contracts, at email@example.com.
Publicize Important HIV/AIDS Information
A range of services is available in many communities for people living with HIV/AIDS, but
these services are not always easy to find. Someone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS has many
challenges in store; tracking down the services they require should not be one of them.
Publicizing information about local hotlines, legal, medical and social services, and other
resources can be of tremendous assistance in guaranteeing that people living with
HIV/AIDS can obtain the services that they need.
WHAT LAWYERS CAN DO • WHAT LAW
Donate Time and Resources
Make a Donation to an AIDS Services Organization
Like so many public interest organizations, AIDS services organizations rely heavily on
donations from private individuals, companies, law firms, bar associations, and others to
support their important work. By personally making a donation to an AIDS services organ-
ization, and by encouraging your employer or bar association to do so, you can help to sup-
port the critical services uniquely offered to people living with HIV/AIDS by AIDS servic-
es organizations. This may be done with a direct donation, or by electing a particular organ-
ization through an employer contribution program.
Participate in an AIDS Walk, Marathon, or Triathlon
Many towns and cities regularly have an AIDS walk, marathon, or triathlon (bike, swim and
run), in which participants secure sponsorship pledges from friends, family and colleagues
and wherein proceeds are donated to one or more local AIDS services organizations.
Walks are typically about five to eight miles, and are held on a weekend morning. AIDS
marathons and triathlons are structured as is customary.
For more information, or to find an AIDS walk or marathon in your community, visit
www.aidswalk.net or www.aidsmarathon.com. Local AIDS triathlons can be found by searching the
Internet for your city and “AIDS triathlon.”
Participate in a Dance Marathon
Some towns host dance marathons (typically at universities) in which participants secure
sponsorship pledges and proceeds are donated to one or more local AIDS organizations.
The dance marathon typically consists of teams participating in a 24-48 hour non-stop
dance, with upbeat music, creative themes, various competitions, and sometimes a visit
from a celebrity guest.
For information on dance marathons supporting the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation,
visit http://www.pedaids.org/fs_fund.html. Dance marathons benefiting other AIDS services organ-
izations can be found by searching the Internet for your city and “AIDS dance marathon.”
Use Your Creativity
There are limitless ways to show support for the HIV/AIDS community and gather
resources for AIDS services organizations that provide assistance to the community. In
addition to organized athletic events, consider silent auctions, dinner dances, clothing/food
drives, bringing national speakers to local events, selling themed rubber band bracelets,
attending festivals from which proceeds are donated to AIDS research, or anything else that
could possibly serve to raise the level of awareness about HIV/AIDS in your community or
ensure the enhanced delivery of services to people living with the disease.
WYERS CAN DO • WHAT LAWYERS CAN DO
Promote Answering the Call
Inform the ABA Young Lawyers Division of Your Efforts
Young lawyers and young lawyer affiliates around the country are doing wonderful work for
the HIV/AIDS community. Some provide regular legal clinics and pro bono services, while
others have published information about the legal rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. By
informing the Young Lawyers Division of your programs, publications and ideas, they can be
circulated to others around the country, highlighted at national conferences, or described
in the Division’s widely circulated publications.
If you have ideas or successes to share, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ABA Young Lawyers Division includes 120,000 members and 300 young lawyer affiliate
organizations located throughout the United States. Each year, the YLD sponsors a nation-
al public service project, made possible through the generous funding of the American Bar
Association Fund for Justice and Education (FJE). This year’s National Public Service Project
has also benefited from the experience and assistance of the ABA AIDS Coordinating
Committee and its talented staff, as well as the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and
HALSA, Inc., which developed HIV Legal Check-Up.
For more information on this and other YLD public service projects, please contact the Young
ABA Young Lawyers Division
321 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60610
312.968.5611 • Fax: 312.968.6231
Disclaimer: The materials contained herein represent the opinions of the authors and editors and
should not be construed to be those of either the American Bar Association or the Young Lawyer’s
Division unless adopted pursuant to the bylaws of the Association. Nothing contained herein is to be
considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtain-
ing such advice from their own legal counsel. These materials and any forms and agreements herein
are intended for educational and informational purposes only.