August 01, 2012

New ABA president lays out full agenda for the coming year

Chicago lawyer Laurel G. Bellows, who began her one-year term as ABA president this month, has set an agenda that includes working toward abolishing human trafficking, improving national cybersecurity, promoting gender equity, and emphasizing the importance of jury trials.

Addressing the ABA House of Delegates Aug. 6, Bellows emphasized that lawyers matter and that the ABA is “universally recognized as the leading voice of the legal profession and the leading proponent and defender of the rule of law.”

She established a Task Force on Human Trafficking in the United States to “mobilize the legal profession to pursue justice for victims of the modern day slave trade and to launch a national public awareness campaign” about the issue. She also created a Task Force on National Cybersecurity to identify and address cybersecurity and cyber-espionage challenges that pose a threat to the country’s security and the security of private industry, including law firms.

She indicated that she will push for new laws and policies that encourage gender fairness, which she said is critical to the health and viability of the legal profession and the economy. She has asked the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and a specially appointed Gender Equity Task force to work on these issues.

Bellows is directing the ABA’s Commission on the American Jury Project to take the lead in working with courts, rulemaking bodies, state legislatures and the organized bar to promote the importance of juries and jury reform and the ABA standards on the jury system.

Bellows is a former chair of the ABA House of Delegates and has held numerous leadership positions within the association, including chairing the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. As a member of the ABA Board of Governors, she also chaired the Finance Committee.

A former president of the Chicago Bar Association, she founded the Women’s Alliance and also chaired the National Conference of Bar Presidents. She served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on the Administration of Justice and on the U.S. Senate Judicial Nominations Commission for Illinois. In 2006, she was named one of the 28 Power Lawyers in the City by Chicago Magazine and was listed among the 25 most influential working mothers in the country in 1997 by Working Mother magazine.

Bellows, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University School of Law, is a founder of the Bellows Law Group, where she has practiced employment law for more than 30 years.

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