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    Obama’s national security legal team shares insights on interagency cooperation

    November 9, 2015 3:22 PM by John Glynn

    A panel of top national security lawyers in the executive branch discussed the nuances of their work Nov. 5 during the “25th Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law,” sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.

    “We provide different perspectives on efforts to advance national security within the limits of the law,” said Mary E. McLeod, acting legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State, of the panelists, who together represent the White House, Central Intelligence Agency, Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Intelligence Program and the U.S. Departments of State, Defense and Justice.

    As the Obama administration’s national security legal team, the panelists said that the substance of their work consists of providing the best objective understanding of what the law says and preparing formal opinions for policymakers.

    But cooperative interaction among colleagues can be a challenge when the agencies are not in agreement. “Lawyers come [to meetings] with their agency’s position well deep in their minds,” said Robert Taylor, the Defense Department’s principal deputy general counsel and acting general counsel.

    Ultimately, these collegial challenges are necessary to provide frank and well-rounded legal advice to top officials.

    “We [the agencies represented by the panelists] are good checks on each other,” said Brian Egan, legal adviser to the National Security Council and deputy counsel to President Obama. “We operate by consensus and present policymakers with the legal consequences.”

    “If there is disagreement, [those] perspectives are presented as potential risks… not on how agencies disagree,” said Robert Litt, general counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    Looking forward, panelists said that they hope their intelligence and national security agencies develop a framework for cybersecurity; tackle the challenges and guidelines for surveillance; and address less-evident national security risks, such as climate change and treaty agreements.

    James E. Baker, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, served as moderator of the panel. Other panelists included: Darse E. “Del” Crandall Jr., U.S. Navy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Caroline Krass, general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Karl R. Thompson, principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

    Family detention incompatible with justice, say experts at ABA immigration meeting

    November 5, 2015 4:45 PM by John Glynn

    The U.S. government is violating the rights of asylum-seeking families and the protections governing the treatment of immigrant children detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a panel of immigration legal experts at an American Bar Association Commission on Immigration program Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C. 

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    Supported decision-making encouraged at National Aging and Law Conference

    November 5, 2015 7:05 AM by John Glynn

    Often, attorneys are faced with clients who, due to age or disability, have decision-making challenges. Historically, this frequently has resulted in attorneys recommending guardianship. But an alternative to guardianship is supported decision-making, which can protect individual rights, increase self-determination and improve life outcomes.

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    Judges discuss challenges to impartiality in criminal courts

    November 4, 2015 3:02 PM by John Glynn

    A disproportionate number of inmates of America’s overburdened prison system are minorities, and a panel of judges at the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section’s Eighth Annual Fall Institute in Washington, D.C., said that implicit bias is chief among reasons.

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    ABA president promotes fairness in criminal justice system through education

    November 4, 2015 3:01 PM by John Glynn

    American Bar Association President Paulette Brown delivered keynote remarks during the Eighth Annual Fall Institute of the Criminal Justice Section, Oct. 22-23 in Washington, D.C.. Brown spoke on the role of lawyers in criminal justice reform during the conference’s luncheon awards presentation, as well as addressed diversity and inclusion, and the importance of addressing implicit bias with required training and an expansion of the professional conduct rules.

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    Latham & Watkins volunteers deliver pro bono services to California’s Central Valley

    November 3, 2015 2:35 PM by John Glynn

    Thirteen lawyers from Latham & Watkins’ San Francisco office took a pro bono road trip on Friday, Oct. 30, the ABA Day of Service and the final day of the National Pro Bono Celebration. 

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    ABA staffers observe Pro Bono Week giving legal help in Chicago

    October 30, 2015 2:05 PM by John Glynn

    Three ABA staff members continued efforts to observe National Celebrate Pro Bono Week and the new And Justice for All: ABA Day of Service by volunteering on Friday, Oct. 30 at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, which offers free legal assistance to low-income residents of Chicago. Skip Harsch, director of Diversity for Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; Nura Maznavi, assistant staff counsel at the Center for Pro Bono and Cheryl Zalenski, chief counsel at the Division for Legal Services, spent Friday morning interviewing clients whose criminal records cannot be expunged or sealed. The ABA volunteers’ interviews will help determine whether CGLA can pursue the next step of clemency for the clients.

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    Coca-Cola legal division serves up a week of pro bono activities

    October 30, 2015 10:14 AM by John Glynn

    For the Coca-Cola Company Legal Division in Atlanta, Ga., participating for the first time in the American Bar Association’s National Celebration of Pro Bono Week proved to be the real thing.

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    Pro Bono work celebrated in innovative ways across the country

    October 27, 2015 4:31 PM by John Glynn

    Across the nation, the ABA’s National Pro Bono Celebration, October 25-31, is seeing a burst of events, new areas of volunteer work and thousands of participants.  

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    ABA president, president-elect and staff provide a Day of Service during Pro Bono Week

    October 26, 2015 3:56 PM by John Glynn

    At the Urban League Multicultural Senior Center in Portland, Ore., ABA President Paulette Brown took part in the Senior Law Project Clinic, a pro bono event sponsored by Legal Aid Services of Oregon on Monday, Oct. 26. Brown, along with volunteer attorney Julie Rowett met with two clients to work on their wills and housing issues.

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