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February 13, 2020 2020 MIDYEAR

2020 Father Drinan Reception

Honoring Robert N. Weiner

During a reception sponsored by Arnold and Porter, the American Bar Association's Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice honored ABA leader and 2017-18 Section Chair Robert N. Weiner with the Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service during the 2020 ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas. As he accepted the award, Rob Weiner issued a passionate call to action. Read the press release about the event here.

The Section commemorated the tireless work of Rob Weiner, who has devoted his career to advancing civil rights and social justice through the rule of law. A member of the Section since 1980, he led as Chair from 2017-18. During this year, he initiated the Section’s Rapid Response Project, which gave way to more proactive and timely programs more frequently. He is the Chair of the ABA Working Group on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System,  spearheaded the development of the ABA’s Ten Guidelines on Court Fines and Fees, published in August 2018, and continues to work on a new report on Privatization in the Criminal Justice System. 

2020 Father Drinan Reception

2020 Father Drinan Reception

During the Valentine's Day reception, Section Chair Wendy Mariner ushered in the large crowd of Midyear Meeting attendees. The room was filled to the brink with some of the most prominent names within the legal profession in attendance. Wendy welcomed former Father Drinan Award recipients (Mark D. Agrast, Michael Greco, Stephen Hanlon, Myles Lynk, Estelle Rogers, Stephen Wermiel), members of the ABA Board of Governors (Howard Wall, Lynne Barr, David Clark, James  Durant, Russell Frisby, Rew Goodenow, Michale Byowitz, Michele Wong Krause, Jim Homes, Michaela Posner, Beverly Quail), ABA Secretary Mary Smith, members of the ABA House of Delegates, and Past ABA Presidents (Bob Carlson, Hilarie Bass, Linda Klein, Laurel Bellows, Bill Neukom, Karen Mathis, Jim Silkenat).

Wendy first introduced current ABA President Judy Perry Martinez, who detailed her experiences with Rob at the 2018 CRSJ Fall Meeting in the Civil Rights Triangle (Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, AL).

He gives you the best of what he's got. He gives you thoughtful advice...guidance...and wisdom.

Judy Perry Martinez

2019-20 ABA President

Trish Refo, the current President-elect, also spoke highly of the impact Rob has made on the Section and the ABA as a whole, citing his many notable contributions. 

"[Everyone is] here to honor you... because of the service you have given in so many ways to our profession; to the causes of social justice, human rights, and civil rights; and to an extraordinary career."

Wendy offered an insightful, detailed look at the work of a past Section Chair and active ABA leader. She noted that he far exceeds the framework of a traditional legal career, going above and beyond in his many pro-bono activities. She stated that Rob "has instilled the Section’s principles and values in all these endeavors. He is truly an ambassador for the Section’s mission."

Wendy's full remarks are available here →

After much well-deserved acclaim, Rob Weiner approached the podium quite hesitantly and somewhat bashful. He answered his predecessors' remarks with some aptly timed self-deprecating humor, noting that his wife said, "Don't try to be charming or funny. Just be yourself." 

Rob then humorously detailed his upbringing,  noting he was a "half-British, half-Nebraskan Jewish kid growing up in San Antonio in the 1950s and 60s," before delving into the more serious parts of his life that led to his passion for legal and social equality.

I cannot know what it is like to be the victim of systemic racial discrimination, but that small taste of exclusion was sufficient to make me a zealous advocate of civil rights.

Robert N. Weiner

2020 Father Drinan Award Recipient

Rob mentioned that though he believes it is one of the worst times to be a lawyer - with more civil rights violations and social turmoil than ever - it is also an opportunity to act. "This is our opportunity to make a difference, to apply our skill and judgment to preserving our democratic system and values.  This is our duty, and it is our time."

Read Rob's call to action here →

For more information about the Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service, please visit the Award's webpage.