California Lawyers Association

Letter to Congress Regarding Federal Emergency Relief for Trade and Professional Associations

May 12, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
1236 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: Federal Emergency Relief for Trade and Professional Associations

For a PDF copy, click here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leaders McConnell, McCarthy and Schumer:

I am writing on behalf of the California Lawyers Association (CLA), a professional association that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. CLA’s mission is promoting excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. CLA has close to 100,000 members who represent the vast diversity of California’s legal community and the various areas of law practiced throughout the state.

CLA urges Congress to provide relief in the next aid package to assist trade and professional associations organized under Section 501(c)(6), including bar associations, in coping with the devastating impact of COVID-19. Bar associations across the country are working tirelessly to help low-income Americans and vulnerable populations respond to legal problems arising out of the pandemic, including in the areas of employment, housing, healthcare, access to benefits, domestic violence, and family law. Bar associations are also providing training and resources to legal professionals to help them better serve clients who are working through unprecedented economic and other impacts caused by the pandemic.

CLA continues to develop and provide resources to assist the public and lawyers with various legal issues that have come up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other activities, we have:

  • Produced a series of public education videos, available on our website
  • Produced a series of free continuing legal education webinars
  • Provided written resources covering a variety of current legal issues
  • Provided ongoing updates regarding court operations, court rules, and court orders
  • Engaged with all three branches of government in California to seek guidance, clarification, and implementation of emergency provisions to assist with access to and the administration of justice

CLA, like other trade and professional associations organized under Section 501(c)(6), will continue to suffer substantial revenue losses caused by the cancellation of meetings and reduced programming that depend on in-person attendance. Most associations also anticipate further losses resulting from reduced revenue from sponsorships and from dues, as members address their own economically precarious circumstances by cutting expenses, including association membership.

Just like small businesses organized as for-profit entities, trade and professional associations are employers. In California, CLA alone currently employs 30 people. Many trade and professional associations have little or no financial cushion to carry them through these difficult times. Therefore, any reduction in revenue will result in a reduction in essential services.

For these reasons, we urge Congress to include meaningful financial relief in the next COVID-19 aid package for associations organized under Section 501(c)(6) so bar associations can continue to support the people, the justice system, and the profession they serve.

Thank you for your consideration and continued support of our country during these unprecedented and challenging times.

Sincerely,

Ona Alston Dosunmu
C.E.O. & Executive Director
California Lawyers Association

cc:

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Kamala D. Harris
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Doris Matsui
United States House of Representatives
2311 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

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