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April 03, 2020 Lawyers Conference

LC Chair's Column

By Carolyn A. Dubay, Raleigh, NC

Time flies when you are having fun, as they say, and we are now quickly approaching the mid-point of the ABA bar year.  In the first half of our bar year, the Lawyers Conference has sponsored another successful United States Supreme Court Admissions Program, highlighted the innovations in confronting the problems of access to justice in rural communities in our December webinar, and continues to develop and ramp up programs for 2020. 

With the mid-point of the bar year upon us, it is also time to look forward to the upcoming 2020 Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas.  The Midyear Meeting is free to ABA members and highlights the value and impact of membership in the Judicial Division and the Lawyers Conference.   For members of the Lawyers Conference who do not regularly attend the Midyear Meeting, we also hope you will consider making a change and joining us to meet your fellow JD members and take advantage of interesting and timely CLEs, programs and events.   The Midyear Meeting also actively promotes diversity as one of the core pillars of the ABA, the Judicial Division and the Lawyers Conference.  Each year, judges and lawyers from the various conferences within the JD show their commitment to increasing diversity in the bench and building bridges with diverse communities in the cities where the meeting takes place.  This year, the Judicial Division kicks off the Midyear Meeting with local outreach organized by the JD’s Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary.  The events will include the Youth Outreach Program, partnering with a local high school to connect students with judges, and an evening panel and reception for local law students and lawyers.   After the outreach events, the JD turns its attention to the Judicial Clerkship Program, which brings together diverse students from law schools across the United States to pair up and work with judges to learn what it takes to become a law clerk and to make important connections for life after law school.  

Beyond its commitment to diversity, a recent survey of leadership of the Lawyers Conference showed that connecting and building relationships with judges and lawyers from across the country and from courts of all levels is one of the most rewarding aspects of membership.  Towards this end, even if you cannot attend the Midyear Meeting, many JD committees are open to any JD members, including members of the Lawyers Conference.   Committee participation offers an incredible way to work closely with individuals who share common goals in addressing issues that impact the administration of justice.  Any Lawyers Conference members who are not engaged in our conference-level or JD-level committees already are encouraged to jump in and lend a hand. 

The Lawyers Conference has also continued to provide and support popular programs and CLEs at affordable prices for its membership.  Working closely with judges from the JD’s conferences, the Lawyers Conference continues to develop in-person programs and webinars to raise awareness about critical issues that affect the courts.   Information on upcoming programs is available on the JD’s website and all members are encouraged to see what’s new, or to reach out to leadership in the Lawyers Conference to make suggestions for programs that will benefit the administration of justice.

Another valuable aspect of engaging with the Lawyers Conference is the opportunity to take on the role of educator in our civic outreach programs.  Members of the Lawyers Conference have commented that one of the biggest benefits of membership is the ability to work closely with judges and lawyers from different parts of the country on programs that keep the issues of judicial independence and the rule of law in the consciousness of our citizens.   January is the perfect time to start planning a public education outreach event during National Judicial Outreach Week in the first week of March.   You pick your audience, and we provide the teaching materials.  It’s that easy.  If you want to do the program with a judge, we can also assist in reaching out to the other conferences for partnership opportunities. 

As lawyers, we understand our duty to establish and maintain a fair, honorable and efficient judicial process that is accessible to all citizens.   Working side-by-side with judges, communicating about the issues, and offering insights from the bench and bar perspectives accomplishes this goal.   We hope you will continue to find value in your membership in the Lawyers Conference, and we are committed to continuous improvement in our programs and services to you.   Thank you for your support of a fair and independent judiciary through your contributions to the Lawyers Conference. 

Carolyn A. Dubay

Carolyn A. Dubay

2019-2020 Lawyers Conference Chair