Looking back to my column for the Spring Issue of the JD Record, I had no idea that my life and the lives of people around the world would be turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this unprecedented public health crisis, much has changed in the way we interact with our families, friends, colleagues, and ABA compatriots. At the same time, the fundamental values that bring us all together have not changed a bit, including the value of the ABA not only to its members but to the administration of justice. This fact is obvious to me in the immediate support the ABA has offered to help its constituent entities such as the Judicial Division mobilize quickly during this crisis to provide free timely and relevant programs to help courts, judges, lawyers and other professionals exchange ideas for best practices in administering justice in a virtual world and protecting the public and employees from the dangers of COVID-19. Within the Judicial Division, the Lawyers Conference and its members have also come together to provide information and resources to help each of us adapt to the pressures of constantly changing dynamics in our professional and personal lives. Whether through webinars on conducting jury trials during the COVID-19 crisis or using special masters to alleviate COVID-related backlogs in our courts, the Judicial Division and the Lawyers Conference continue to seek ways to ensure that the administration of justice is fair, efficient and accessible. Crisis also brings novelty in how we maintain our collegiality and outreach. One particularly interesting development was the Judicial Division’s “Virtual Expo” held in June 2020 in lieu of the physical expos we come to expect at large gatherings during the Annual and Mid-Year Meetings. This new Virtual Expo format offered a curated experience for JD members and their colleagues and friends to see and hear how sponsors from the Atlanta Opera to HP Printers to Chapel Hill Toffee could make life easier in the virtual world for courts and lawyers and their employees and friends. Innovation of this sort is typical of the energy and creativity of the Judicial Division’s leadership in bringing value and new benefits to its members.
Looking forward to the Annual Meeting, the new virtual platform also offers unique opportunities for outreach to our Lawyers Conference members. While in person meetings are a fantastic way to connect with ABA friends and attend CLEs, the new virtual experience offers the chance to include Lawyers Conference members in events that traditionally were limited to those who traveled to the conference. This year, we will be offering some virtual events that welcome all Lawyers Conference members to participate and meet other members, so keep your eyes out for emails to come as our plans develop.
Finally, as my year as Chair of the Lawyers Conference comes to a close, it is also a good time to reflect not only on what we have achieved, but to share my appreciation for my colleagues within the JD for their dedication, professionalism and collegiality. Doing good thing is always rewarding. Doing good things with good people is fun. As always, thank you for your support of a fair and independent judiciary through your contributions to the Lawyers Conference.