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Bar News - September 20, 2017

ABA Delegates Debate Dozens of Resolutions at Annual Meeting


New York’s Big Apple hosted the 2017 ABA Annual Meeting. The Broadway lights of popular shows and Times Square lit up the town at night. And the expected humidity this time of year proved no match for the Red Sox versus Yankees heated rivalry, with Boston in town. I attended the ABA Annual Meeting as the NH Bar Association’s Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. At the Aug. 14 meeting, outgoing ABA president Linda Klein passed the gavel to Hilarie Bass, who outlined several of her initiatives for this year.

A new website, ABA Legal Fact Check, will provide nonpartisan information to the public on a broad range of topics, Bass explained. “In an era of alternative news and fake facts, the ABA should be the definitive source of ‘real facts’ when it comes to the law,” she said. Within hours of an inaccurate media report or statement by a politician about the law, the ABA will “post the correct facts on the ABA website and distribute the message through press releases,” Bass said.

With the Legal Rights of Homeless Youth Initiative, Bass intends to promote pro bono service for the more than 500,000 homeless children in the United States by training and matching lawyers with shelters across the country. She also described the newly formed Commission on the Future of Legal Education that will examine bar examination scores and the role of education in addressing the justice gap.

Bass further noted that a significant number of women lawyers are leaving the profession in their 40s and 50s – a time in their careers when they should be moving into senior leadership roles. The ABA will study this phenomenon and how to reverse this trend. Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in the Law will kick off at a summit at Harvard Law School in November.

Resolutions at the House of Delegates

As the policymaking body of the ABA, the House of Delegates held two days of deliberations on more than three dozen resolutions. Some addressed substantive areas of the law, such as the clarification of certain patent laws. Others involved the ABA Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, including for misappropriation of monies held in trust accounts.

Other resolutions ranged from addressing situations in which juveniles are caught between child welfare and the criminal justice system, to records expungement for those exonerated or found guilty of minor offenses, to reaffirming opposition to restructuring the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. More debated resolutions involved enacting statutes, rules, or regulations authorizing temporary restraining orders that proponents said would help prevent acts of violence and suicides. Opponents argued the provisions raised First Amendment and Fourth Amendment issues.

Resolutions can be found on the ABA website under the “News” page, accessed via the home page.

Jennifer Parent

Jennifer L. Parent is a Director and Chair of the Litigation Department at McLane Middleton, Professional Association and NHBA’s Association Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates.

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