It’s hard to believe that the 2022 Midyear Meeting is only one month away. If you are feeling anything like me, the past two years have been a blur. I used to plan my year by ABA meetings and conferences. Section and division Fall Conferences in October and November, the ABA Midyear Meeting in February, followed by section and division Spring Conferences in April and May, and finally closing out the bar year with the ABA Annual Meeting in August.
Like clockwork, I loaded all dates and locations in my calendar to ensure I was able to fully participate. These meetings and conferences provided me with great opportunities to connect with fellow attorneys and judges, to discuss pressing issues affecting the legal profession and judiciary, and to pour back into the profession by volunteering with public outreach programs often held in conjunction with the meetings and conferences.
It’s been rather strange being unable to interact in person with those who have become part of my ABA family but, as I reflect on everything that has transpired over the last two years, I am extremely grateful that the ABA has been vigilant in its efforts to address many of the issues affecting the judiciary, the legal profession, and the country as a whole, despite its transition to virtual meeting formats. So, although this year's Midyear Meeting has been converted to a virtual meeting and will no longer be in Seattle, Washington, I'm still counting down the days until we meet again on February 9-14, 2022.
The Midyear Meeting, like prior virtual meetings, will offer expanded opportunities for members to get engaged or reengaged, to reconnect and reflect, to take advantage of the various CLE offerings, and to help shape ABA policy by participating in the House of Delegates. The Judicial Division’s (“JD”) unwavering commitment to increasing diversity in the judiciary through programming geared toward young people has not changed. The JD’s Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary will kick-off our programming on Wednesday afternoon with its Youth Outreach Program which offers students the chance to interact with judges to get direct insights into the judiciary, the rule of law, and individual rights. The Committee will then host a Wednesday evening diversity panel bringing together a diverse panel of judges to talk about their own unique experiences in the judiciary, what diversity on the bench means and how judges, lawyers, and law students can build a more diverse judiciary and legal field.
Once the outreach events conclude, the JD’s focus will be on the three-day Judicial Clerkship Program (“JCP”). Now in its 22nd year, the JCP is a joint collaboration between the JD and the ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline that brings together diverse law students from around the country with judges and law clerks and enables them to explore legal issues, perform legal research, prepare legal memoranda or briefs and defend their positions to their colleagues and the judges and attorneys in an effort to encourage them to consider applying for judicial clerkships.
With all these programs and many more, it's no surprise that the JD is being awarded the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession's Diversity Champion Award during the Spirit of Excellence Awards Presentation on Thursday, February 10.
Members of the LC attending the Midyear Meeting are welcome to tune in to our business meeting on Friday, February 11 to hear your Executive Committee conducting the business of the LC. If you are unable to join us, there are still ways to get involved with the Conference by volunteering with one of its committees. Your involvement can be limited to a specific project or event that you are passionate about or can include volunteering for a particular committee. I encourage you to visit our committee webpage to learn the various ways to get more involved. Also as I mentioned in my last column, the JD's Judicial Outreach Network will host a National Judicial Outreach Week (NJOW) March 1-10, 2022 to encourage judges and lawyers who support a fair and impartial judiciary to engage the community directly and to confirm the public’s commitment to ensuring that the courts remain fair and impartial. Now, is a great time to start planning an event to an audience of your choosing.
For those who are unable to volunteer but are still looking for ways to support judges in the fair administration of justice in the federal, state, local, and administrative courts, ensure that protection of fair, impartial, independent and diverse courts will remain a focus of legal and policy decisions, and advance educational programming and resources for judges and legal professionals nationwide, I encourage you to consider donating to the JD through the Fund for Justice and Education.