A Message from the Business Law Section Chair


A Message from the Business Law Section Chair

By Graham Hunt

3/27/17, 1:40 PM CT | Author: William D. Johnston

This is to highlight our upcoming Section Spring Meeting as well as certain ongoing Section initiatives and accomplishments during the past six months.

The 2017 Spring Meeting in New Orleans

This year we will celebrate the "Rebirth of a Great American City" when close to 2,000 business lawyers, judges, and law students attend the ABA Business Law Section Spring Meeting in New Orleans, April 5-8. It promises to be a great time to learn and network in one of American's most iconic settings. With almost 500 speakers at 90 CLE programs, 72 committee meetings and 189 substantive subcommittee meetings, there will be many opportunities to explore and discuss the topics that are trending. If you're unable to attend the meeting in-person, I encourage you to participate in committee and subcommittee meetings by phone. Additionally, we will be recording numerous CLE programs and making those materials available in the Program Materials Library after the meeting.

Other highlights of the Spring Meeting include: Wednesday's Diversity Networking Reception; Thursday's Welcome Reception; Thursday's committee dinners at top New Orleans restaurants; Friday's Section Luncheon featuring keynote speaker, New Orleans Mayor, Mitchell J. Landrieu; and Friday's custom Mardi Gras float parade to the Section Dinner held at Mardi Gras World. We also will be reaching out to local law schools and their students, encouraging their participation in the Section and offering "speed-networking" opportunities.

If you haven't had a chance to register for the Spring Meeting, there is still time and varying registration options including all-access, single-day and single-session passes. Register onsite at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans starting at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5.

Junior Achievement Volunteer Opportunity in New Orleans

The Business and Corporate Litigation Committee's Pro Bono and Public Service Subcommittee, in conjunction with the Young Lawyer Committee, will be partnering with Junior Achievement in New Orleans to offer career mentoring to high school students on Thursday, April 6, from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.

This year's project will provide Section volunteers with the opportunity to meet with high school students who are eager to learn about business law careers. Volunteers will talk with students about their education, backgrounds, professions, and personal challenges, and they will offer advice and answer questions. For additional information or to volunteer to participate, please email Justine Mershman.

Financial Literacy Program in New Orleans

Also during the Spring Meeting, Business Law Section members will be leading financial literacy training at various sites throughout New Orleans. Partners will include the New Orleans Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other local agencies. We will use the "Money Smart for Older Adults" curriculum, which contains an easy-to-follow script to facilitate the training sessions. The Business Law Section will offer a webinar in advance of the meeting to make Section participants comfortable and familiar with the materials.

If you are interested in taking part and are reasonably sure that you will be able to attend, please contact Pro Bono Subcommittee Chair, David Esquivel.

Presentation of the 2017 National Public Service Award in New Orleans

The Section initiated the National Public Service Award in 1994 as part of its pro bono efforts. The National Public Service Award recognizes significant pro bono legal services that demonstrate a commitment to providing services to the poor in a business context, and applauds the achievements resulting from the public service work for the clients and the client groups represented. This year, there will be two recipients: Lori Anne Dunsmore of Perkins Coie LLP and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP. The award will be presented at the Section Luncheon.

Ongoing Section Initiatives

Accepting Applications for the 2017-2019 Business Law Fellows Program

The Business Law Fellows Program is designed to encourage participation of diverse lawyers in the substantive work of the Section and to develop future leaders of the Section. Each year, up to 20 Fellows are selected to participate in a two-year term in the program that subsidizes attendance at up to three meetings per year, assigns mentors, and provides special guidance and leadership opportunities.

Applications can be downloaded here and are due on May 1, 2017. Please encourage your colleagues to apply.

All applicants must have demonstrated leadership involvement within the ABA, Business Law Section, and/or a bar organization committed to one of the following areas:

  • Young lawyers (under 40 years of age or in practice for fewer than 10 years)
  • Lawyers of color
  • LGBT lawyers
  • Lawyers with a disability

I encourage you to visit the Fellows website for more information.

Business Law Content Library

The Business Law Content Library, the easily searchable aggregator of most of the content generated for the Section, continues to provide our members with an ability to search for substantive articles, newsletters, audio recordings, webinars, and more! If you haven't utilized this tool, I encourage you to take advantage of this important member benefit.

Business Law Breaking News

The Business Law Section continues to deliver current, relevant content to our members. To that end, Business Law Breaking News was born. This new program is a free, non-CLE webinar series addressing real-time developments in business law that may affect your day-to-day world as a lawyer, judge, or law student. Get timely analysis from leading experts on new court decisions, new laws and regulations, changes to existing laws and regulations, and other current events. Check out the page now for upcoming events and to view the archive of recent programs.

Section Accomplishments During the Past Six Months

Last, but certainly not least, here are some highlights of Section accomplishments during the past six months, with thanks to all of our Section volunteer leaders and to our outstanding staff led by Sue Daly Tobias:

  • Assigned to the Section's Chair-Elect the role and responsibilities of the Section's new Chief of Diversity and Inclusion;
  • Updated the Section's 5-year Business Plan;
  • Continued the "reimagining" of the Section's monthly publication, Business Law Today, to update content, form, and delivery;
  • Continued to publish quarterly The Business Lawyer, with superlative contributions from Section members and expert support from Production Manager Diane Babal and Associate Editor-in-Chief Greg Duhl;
  • Continued to publish monthly Business Law Today featuring timely articles on the latest business law developments;
  • Published 12 new books, through the Section's Publications Board and the Section's unmatched publications staff led by "Content Guy" Rick Paszkiet;
  • Completed Section leadership training, with an emphasis on identifying and disrupting implicit bias and "getting to yes" as an effective Section leader;
  • Supported our 50 substantive committees, through Committee Manager Leslie Archer;
  • Presented a successful Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. and 9 successful standalone committee meetings throughout the country - all compliments of our Meetings Director Mark Page and his terrific colleagues;
  • Assisted Section committees with member recruitment, with great support from Section Associate Director Liza Nondorf and her colleagues;
  • Worked to improve our partnering relationships with the ABA Law Student Division and the ABA Young Lawyers Division;
  • Continued to pursue how best to deliver value to Section members who are in-house counsel, through our Corporate Counsel Committee and our In-House Counsel Task Force established by former Chair William Rosenberg;
  • Continued to enhance the Section website, including committee and subcommittee homepages, with support from Technology Manager Graham Hunt;
  • Presented numerous free CLE webinars, including "In the Know" and "Business Law Basics," with average attendance of 702 and 558 participants, respectively;
  • Co-sponsored and co-presented, with New York Law School, a third annual symposium - this year's symposium entitled "ADR and Diversity";
  • Worked with other groups within the ABA to consider policy resolutions for possible presentation to the ABA House of Delegates, comments on proposed federal regulations and other matters, and issues of common concern to ABA sections, divisions, and forums;
  • Supported the ABA Veterans Legal Services Initiative;
  • Supported the ABA Center for Innovation; and
  • Continued to emphasize corporate social responsibility and sustainability, assisting business lawyers and their clients.

I hope to see you in New Orleans! Please contact me at any time with questions, comments, or suggestions.

Sincerely yours,

William D. Johnston
(302) 571-6679

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