January 03, 2020 National Conference of the Administrative Law Judiciary

NCALJ Chair's Column

By Hon. Robert S. Cohen, Tallahassee, FL

NCALJ is off to a great start this year.  Our newly formed committees are working on a variety of short and long-term projects that will take us through this administration and into the future.  I highlight for you some of the commendable work being done by these committees:

Education and Programs.   The committee co-chairs continue to work on a webinar series, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Administrative Proceedings of Every Type, But Were Afraid to Ask,” a series of webinars on administrative hearings in general, with specific focus on the most common types of administrative proceedings.  This will likely be a two to three-year project, geared towards lawyers new to administrative practice, as well as more experienced lawyers from other disciplines, to help them understand the basics of administrative hearings they may be asked to handle for clients.  The goal is to introduce attorneys to the varying types of matters heard by ALJs, who will provide practice tips and pointers to help navigate new areas or recognize when to refer a matter to an attorney who specializes in the area.

Federal Administrative Adjudication.  This significant committee is conducting a study to identify issues facing the federal administrative judiciary; to explore the various aspects of the issues, both pro and con; and then to make recommendations for action to the NCALJ Executive Committee.  Along these lines, resolutions to the House of Delegates are presently in the works to support the independent decision-making of federal ALJs, as well as a merit system of appointment and retention.  These weighty issues will keep the committee busy throughout this year and next.

Membership and Recruiting.   Our co-chairs of this committee were very successful last year in recruiting more federal administrative adjudicators.  This year, thanks to the strong connections we have made with the National Association of Immigration Judges, the National Association of Women Judges, and multiple federal ALJ organizations, we expect to significantly increase the recruiting of new members.  Membership has been made more accessible for associations by a new ABA policy that expands the qualifications for the reduced group membership rate.  We are taking advantage of this to form new groups of state and federal ALJs to help grow NCALJ.

Sponsorship and Non-Dues Revenue.  This important committee is working closely with the Lawyers Conference and the Judicial Division to identify and seek new sources of potential sponsorships and revenues to compensate for budget cuts suffered by all of us this year.  Through the expertise of some LC fundraising members, creative small fundraising ideas, and a push for new and increased contributions to the Judicial Division's ABA Fund for Justice and Education (FJE) to help with CLE program and travel expenses, we have set a goal of replacing and augmenting the funds we lost in the cuts.  The committee’s work should start to pay dividends by the Midyear Meeting, especially after our year-end push for charitable contributions.

Many of the other NCALJ committees are just as vibrant as those featured here, and are working on issues such as immigration, strategic planning, and communications, to name a few.  What every one of our committee’s needs is more members.  Please consider volunteering to serve on an NCALJ committee.  Your participation will not require extensive hours nor countless meetings.  Rather, committee meetings are generally conducted by telephone with responsibilities handed out to volunteers who report back to the committee chairs with results.  Nothing ensures a strong section, division, or forum in the ABA like a vibrant committee structure.  There is a place for every member on one committee or another.  Do your part to help your organization by volunteering to serve on a committee.  We appreciate your consideration and hope to put you to work soon!

Hon. Robert S. Cohen

Hon. Robert S. Cohen

2019-2020 NCALJ Chair