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Entries filed under 'Top Stories'

    National Pro Bono Week celebrated in events around the country

    October 20, 2016 1:39 PM by John Glynn

    A driver’s license, for the most part, is a simple document. But in some instances it can mean the difference between a being a productive citizen and spending a life behind prison bars.

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    Program captures family stories of purged Jewish lawyers in Nazi-controlled countries

    September 28, 2016 2:30 PM by Mitch Higgins

    Four lawyers from the Washington area, all descendants of attorneys purged from the practice of law by the Nazis in the 1930s, shared their stories at a “Family Remembrances” program on Sept. 15 in conjunction with the Lawyers Without Rights exhibit now on display at the German-American Heritage Museum in downtown D.C.

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    ABA Death Penalty Representation Project presents Volunteer Service Awards

    September 19, 2016 4:28 PM by John Glynn

    The American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project held its 30th Anniversary and Volunteer Awards Program in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15 to honor the selfless work of lawyers who give their time to help represent death penalty clients.

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    ABA announces new insurance products for members and their families

    September 12, 2016 12:41 PM by John Glynn

    The American Bar Association has unveiled a range of new insurance products available to its more than 400,000 members and their families. Included among the nine products provided through USI Affinity are two types of term life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, travel insurance, long-term care insurance, pet insurance and student loan refinancing plans. 

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    Judges’ Journal magazine articles focus on ‘Blueprint for Diversity’ for the legal system

    September 6, 2016 12:15 PM by John Glynn

    The current issue of The Judges’ Journal magazine, a quarterly member benefit of the Judicial Division, is titled “Blueprint for Diversity” and features practical steps that can be taken toward the goal of a diverse judicial system.

    Judges Journal

    In the article, “Assessing and Achieving Jury Pool Representativeness,” the authors note that the Judicial Division’s National Conference of State Trial Judges, along with Paula Hannaford-Agor of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), identified a series of steps judges and administrators can take to determine if the procedures used to assemble jurors result in representative jury panels and improve the representativeness of those panels.

    The steps focus on three areas:

    • Establishing reliable methods of measuring the demographic composition of the jury pool. To obtain the most useful data, courts should use the same definitions and basic data-collection methods as the U.S. Census Bureau uses, asking jurors to self-identify race, ethnicity and gender using Census category responses. It is important that respondents have the opportunity to give a multi-race response, and that the race and ethnicity categories be kept correctly separate (for example, Hispanic and Arabic are ethnicities, not races).

    • Ensuring the inclusiveness and representativeness of the jury pool. Inclusiveness means the extent to which the master jury list includes a jurisdiction’s entire jury-eligible population, while representativeness means the extent to which the master jury list reflects the characteristics of the community. A court can adjust master jury lists that are not inclusive or otherwise representative.

    • Assessing and improving the way jurors are selected for the pool. The master jury list should be updated at least annually to ensure the accuracy of the addresses. If master jury lists are not frequently updated, people with lower socioeconomic status and minorities are particularly likely to be excluded from the jury pool because they are more likely to change residences than those with higher socioeconomic status and non-minorities.

    Authors of the piece, all current or past members of the ABA Commission on the American Jury, were Judge William Caprathe, retired from the Circuit Court in Bay City, Mich.; Hannaford-Agor of the NCSC; Stephanie McCoy Loquvan of Moyers Sellers & Hendricks in Phoenix; and Shari Seidman Diamond of the Northwestern University Law School faculty. They concluded that, while some circumstances are beyond the control of the courts, the representativeness of the jury pool can be positively affected by court action.

    In the same Judges’ Journal issue, Boston-based U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Bailey tackled another diversity issue, that of whether Article I federal judges reflect the ethnicity of the populations they serve. Bailey’s article, “Does the federal Article I bench reflect the ethnicity of the populations that they serve? What if the answer is no?”, noted the importance of the issue: By far the largest number of cases filed in federal court are those filed in Bankruptcy Court, and magistrate judges handle the day-to-day work in thousands of federal cases.

    Bailey reported on research from Nancy Dunham, the fair employment practices officer at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Dunham found that, as of 2014, the Article III bench was 72.3 percent Caucasian, magistrate judges were 82.7 percent Caucasian, and the bankruptcy judge population was 90.9 percent Caucasian.

    A roundtable discussion on diversity in the federal judiciary held at last year’s Annual Meeting in Boston, attended by Bailey, suggested why Article I judges do not reflect the ethnicity of the populations in the locations in which they serve. The principal reason cited was that the pipeline of diverse applicants is not effective, that diverse candidates need to be encouraged to apply, that the standards for becoming a federal judge must be well understood, and that mentoring and preparation are necessary. At the roundtable, Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes suggested the need to recruit minority law students to internships and clerkships to Article I judges.

    A resolution passed by the ABA House of Delegates at its 2016 Annual Meeting in August in San Francisco, Resolution 102, urged the U.S. president and “appropriate parties” to recognize the importance of racial, ethnic, disability, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity diversity for the judiciary. The resolution further called for expanding the diversity of the pool of qualified applicants, nominees and appointees, including without limitation, the use of diverse merit selection panels.

    Panel: Countering violent extremist threats must be community effort

    August 26, 2016 2:00 PM by John Glynn

    Violent extremist threats come from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremist groups in the United States, as well as international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. Lone offenders or small groups may be radicalized to commit violence at home or attempt to travel overseas to become foreign fighters. 

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    ABA offers premium memberships for law students

    August 23, 2016 10:21 AM by John Glynn

    Law students can now upgrade their free American Bar Association membership to Premium Membership to access exclusive benefits and savings.

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    House approves host of ABA policy changes, including misconduct rule, law student paid externships

    August 9, 2016 3:19 PM by John Glynn

    The American Bar Association wrapped up its ABA Annual Meeting Aug. 9 with its House of Delegates adding tougher language to a professional misconduct rule, expanding financial opportunities for law students, and recommending enhancements to broaden diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

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    Outgoing ABA president passes gavel; New leadership shares upcoming priorities

    August 9, 2016 3:03 PM by John Glynn

    Promising to deliver to ABA members “what they need to better serve their clients,” President-elect Linda Klein outlined plans for her term after President Paulette Brown passed the gavel to her at the House of Delegates Aug. 8 at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Hilarie Bass of Miami became the new President-elect.

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    New ABA president to address veterans’ legal needs, voting and children's education

    August 9, 2016 2:36 PM by John Glynn

    Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, became president of the American Bar Association today at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting in San Francisco. She will serve a one-year term ending in August 2017.

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