Chair’s Message

Vol. 37 No. 3

W. Andrew Gowder is a shareholder in the Charleston, South Carolina, firm of Pratt-Thomas Walker, P.A., and the Chair of the Section.

A word of encouragement: though you may think this winter may never end, our upcoming Spring Meeting in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, at the historic Grove Park Inn, April 24–27, is just around the corner. Once again, we are excited to hold this meeting with our colleagues from the Public Contract Law Section and are looking forward to opportunities to get to know each other better through joint programming, meetings, and receptions, all held at the historic Grove Park Inn. Our agenda for that meeting is included in this edition of the State & Local Law News and on our website.

Some of the highlights will include:

  • A panel exploring the chemical spill in West Virginia and ash dumping in a North Carolina river and the subsequent impact on the states’ water resources. That panel will be organized and presented by our Emergency Management/Homeland Security and Environmental Committees.
  • A panel based on the resurgent field of urban (and suburban) agriculture in our nation’s cities and communities and how land use regulations can encourage the wise use of land to support our local food supplies, while respecting the rights of adjoining property owners. This panel will preview our Section’s upcoming book on urban agriculture and will feature some of that book’s chapter authors.
  • A panel analyzing the issue of heirs property in all areas of the country, but particularly in the South, and involving property owned by descendants of African-Americans who became owners of land during Reconstruction or later and passed on their interest in that land through intestacy, rather than through wills. The program will look at abuses of that ownership state by third parties wishing to exploit the fractured ownership for their own purposes and will offer insight on possible strategies to protect those lands, based on successful efforts by heirs property advocates.

We will also have the opportunity to participate in a full range of programs organized and presented by the ABA Section of Public Contract Law and a full array of opportunities to dine, listen to music, sightsee, and shop in Asheville and the Blue Ridge region.

I encourage all of you to register as soon as possible if you have not already done so.

It was not too long ago when many of us were together in snowy Chicago for our Midyear Meeting, and, once again, our Section hosted a day of excellent CLE programming that was timely, substantive, and well presented. In fact, our panels were featured during the weekend by the ABA in media releases that replayed video of the presentations. We saw programs ranging from “Privacy in the Digital Age—Is There Even a Barn Door Left to Close?,” which explored the consumers’ right to be informed about whether and how they are tracked on the Internet, “They’ll Take My Big Gulp from My Cold, Dead Hands—Public Health, the Police Power, and the Nanny State,” a wide-ranging discussion on the role of government in securing its citizens’ health, and “Hot Topics in Diversity Law,” which featured several presentations on a number of different topics in the broad area of diversity law. (See page 7.)

The meeting also featured a reception and two award ceremonies honoring and celebrating diversity within our profession: our Diversity Reception on Thursday night, jointly sponsored with the ABA Office of Diversity & Inclusion; the Spirit of Excellence Awards, the lifetime achievement awards for diverse lawyers who were groundbreakers in their fields; and the Stonewall Awards, presented by the SOGI Commission, honoring pioneering lawyers practicing in areas involving the LGBT community.

As I meet Section and Association members, I am continually amazed at the depth and quality of the lawyers practicing in this profession and the ways in which each of these practitioners, judges, and academics make a difference every day in this country and in the world.

I look forward to seeing y’all in Asheville. We have another full and exciting program planned. Safe travels!

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