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Former homeland security chief highlights ABA Section of Litigation conference in Phoenix

Former homeland security chief highlights ABA Section of Litigation conference in Phoenix

By Irma Romero

CHICAGO, March 31, 2014 — Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will be the featured speaker at the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation Annual Conference April 9-11 at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.

What:   Section of Litigation Annual Conference
             Sponsored by the ABA Section of Litigation

When:  April 9-11

Where: The Phoenician Resort
             6000 E. Camelback Rd.
             Scottsdale, AZ 85251-1949

Napolitano, the first woman to be president of the University of California, will be the keynote speaker at the Diversity Leadership Award and John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award Luncheon on Thursday, April 10.   

The Wisdom award, which honors outstanding contributions to the equality of justice, is named for one of the most influential jurists of the Civil Rights era who wrote many of the landmark decisions instrumental in ending segregation in the South during his 42-year career on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The Diversity Leadership Award recognizes individuals or entities who have demonstrated a commitment to promot­ing full and equal participation in the legal community through the encouragement and inclusion of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and/or persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. 

The Section Annual Conference will offer more than 45 CLE sessions and feature 150 of the nation’s most respected judges, academics and trial lawyers, as they address litigation developments and the latest techniques in trial advocacy. 

2014 SAC highlights, which can be found online, include: 

“General Counsel Panel Reveals the Real Deal” — An all-star general counsel panel will address hot topics, including the Internet, privacy, trademark, Fortune 500 companies and exciting new growth areas. Hear what they really think about their relationships with firms and such considerations as diversity, public service and pro bono commitments in the firms they hire. Hear fascinating stories about creating cutting-edge law, bet-the-company (or guitar) cases, revolutionizing the pet and music worlds, and overcoming challenges of growth and transformation from the insider’s perspective. Panelists include Rana Dershowitz, general counsel, U.S. Olympic Committee; Paulette Dodson, senior vice president and general counsel of Petsmart; Cheree McAlpine, vice president and general counsel of Avnet; Mark Van Vleet, chief legal officer, Fender Musical Instruments; and C. Bradley Vynalek of Quarles & Brady.
Thursday, April 10, 8 – 9:30 a.m. 

“When the Political Process Meets Due Process; Perspectives on Judicial Elections” — Current and former judicial officers discuss the merits and pitfalls of judicial elections and address studies concerning the effects of judicial elections on case outcomes. The justices will share their personal experiences with the election, retention and recall processes. Panelists include Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Supreme Court of Arizona; Amelia Cramer, chief deputy county attorney, Pima County Attorney’s Office; Clifford S. Davidson, Sussman Shank; Justice Rives Kistler, Oregon Supreme Court; Justice Harold See, former associate justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama; and Justice Michael J. Streit, former justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.  
Friday, April 11, 8 – 9:30 a.m.

“A View from the Bench — How Lawyers and Courts Can Make Jury Trials Better” — Experienced judges will discuss jury reforms that have made jury trials better “searches for truth” and will provide comments on characteristics and techniques that can help trial lawyers recognize good and bad lawyering in the fishbowl of the jury trial. The panel features Judge Nancy Atlas, U.S. District for the  Southern District of Texas; Raner Collins, chief judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona; Richard L. Horwitz of Potter Anderson & Corroon; and Judge Samuel A. Thumma, Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.
Friday, April 11, 3 – 4:15 p.m.

“The ABA Section of Litigation is honored to have Arizona serve as the backdrop for our 2014 Section Annual Conference,” said Don Bivens, chair of the ABA Section of Litigation and a partner at Snell & Wilmer. “The conference is the key forum for litigators and brings together lawyers and judges from across the country for the latest updates and developments in trial advocacy. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from an impressive roster of nationally known speakers and participate in numerous CLE programs and networking opportunities.” 

The conference is free and open to members of the press. For media registration, please contact Julie Brown at or at 312-988-6133. 

The Section of Litigation, the ABA's largest practice specialty section with more than 59,000 members, is dedicated to helping litigators become more effective advocates for their clients. 

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. To review our privacy statement, click here. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.


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