Why join FORUM?
FORUM is a professional organization for federal administrative law judges (ALJs). Membership is limited to current and retired federal ALJS. Active ALJs pay only $10 and retired ALJs pay $5 annually; life membership for retired federal ALJs is available for $40. CLICK HERE to submit the online membership application, and CLICK HERE to submit your payment online. Although we strongly encourage all members and prospective members to use the online application, you can also print out and complete the MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION and mail it with your payment.
FORUM is a much lower cost alternative to the Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), the Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference (FALJC), and the American Bar Association’s National Conference of the Federal Administrative Law Judiciary. FORUM primarily focuses on the 250 federal ALJs generally engaged in adversarial proceedings, whereas the AALJ represents the interests of approximately 1,500 Social Security Administrative ALJs and the American Bar Association focuses much attention on state ALJs. FORUM’s interests may not always align with other organizations, and it is the only one of these organizations to have historically opposed bills proposed to create a corps of ALJs. FORUM also supports legislation applying the Code of Conduct for United States judges to all federal ALJs.
The origin of FORUM
In 1974, a study group led by a deputy general counsel at the Civil Service Commission recommended that a “Unified Corps” be created for all federal ALJs. Dating back to 1983, a parade of ALJ Corps bills designed to separate ALJs from their agencies have been regularly introduced in Congress. The common purpose of these bills is to remove the ALJ program from OPM and establish a centralized administrative authority to be led by a Chief ALJ or director to oversee and implement the ALJ program. Proponents argued that significant cost savings would be achieved through the consolidation of facilities, legal staffs, receptionists, docketing clerks, and law libraries. Centrally controlled ALJs would be fungible and made available to here cases arising in any federal agency as needed in order to tackle ever present backlogs.
FORUM was created in 1983 by ALJs who were concerned that the creation of an ALJ Corps was ill-advised and not necessary. FORUM recognized that these bills were fundamentally flawed because they diminished ALJ agency expertise, thereby undermining the very foundation of ALJ legitimacy. FORUM agreed with the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) that found that “the case for establishing an independent ALJ Corps . . . has not been made.” Many federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, Department of Health and Humans Services, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and the Federal Labor Relations Authority, have opposed legislation calling for the reorganization of the federal administrative law judiciary and the creation of an ALJ Corps. Many members of FORUM believe that enactment of such a bill would be the death knell of the ALJ positions in agencies that adjudicate adversarial proceedings, as we know them.