New ABA President Hilarie Bass, co-president of the Miami law firm of Greenberg Traurig, emphasized in her remarks to the ABA House of Delegates Aug. 14 that lawyers must lead the effort to protect democracy.
Bass, who assumed the ABA presidency for a one-year term at the end of the association’s Annual Meeting, told the delegates that her participation in the ABA has helped her to live up to the ideals of fighting for justice and creating social change.
“Never before has there been a more urgent need for the American Bar Association to stand for the democratic principles on which our country is based,” she said, calling on ABA members to “help lead the way for future generations of lawyers to engage, to commit, to provide and to ensure that our American democracy becomes stronger.”
Bass described the initiatives she plans to pursue during the coming year. Already launched is ABA Legal Fact Check, a resource to inform the public about what the law says about issues surrounding current events. She explained that whenever a politician or member of the media makes a statement about the law that is false or inaccurate, ABA Legal Fact Check will post the correct facts within hours on the ABA website and distribute those facts through a press release.
Another major initiative is a study, which will begin with a summit at Harvard Law School in November, to examine why women are leaving law practice in huge numbers. Also on her agenda is the Homeless Youth Legal Network, a project to help provide pro bono legal assistance to homeless youth as well as training and technical assistance to lawyers and other service providers. Her focus on legal education includes appointment of a Commission on the Future of Legal Education to study issues faced by law schools.
Bass, an ABA member for more than 30 years who has held many positions within the association, served as chair of the ABA Section of Litigation, where she created a Task Force on Implicit Bias in the Justice System. She also chaired the Committee on Rules and Calendar and served on the Board of Governors, the House of Delegates, and the Nominating Committee.
A corporate lawyer, she was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been recognized for her pro bono work on behalf of two foster children that led to the elimination of Florida’s unconstitutional ban on gay adoption.
Bass earned her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, where she is a member of the Board of Trustees.