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April 07, 2023 Lawyers Conference

LC Chair's Column

The Lawyers Conference Is Hard at Work

By Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

The Executive Committee of the Lawyers Conference met at the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans on February 3, 2023. The meeting was well-attended and filled with excitement as we returned to meet in person following the hybrid meetings that occurred during the pandemic. A wide range of reports and topics were discussed with input from a variety of sources.

Special thanks to Rick Bien, the JD Delegate to the House of Delegates, for his comprehensive report and analysis of the many resolutions before the House at the midyear meeting. Of particular interest were the discussions of Resolution 400 proposed by the King County Bar Association urging adoption of a code of ethics for the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the intent of the Resolution was laudable, the Standing Committee on Professionalism urged that the Resolution be withdrawn to provide more time for “conscientious consideration of the proposal, the nature and scope of which requires more thought and analysis.” 

Another Resolution that gave rise to significant interest and debate was Resolution 514, proposed by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice among others, to urge federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments of the United States to condemn antisemitism. Again, while laudable, the original resolution urged adoption of a definition of “antisemitism” that was problematic. Ultimately, through negotiation and discussion, the Resolution was modified. The debates on these and other resolutions were thoughtful and informative and provide examples regarding how working together on issues that may be divisive is a great strength of the ABA. Rick Bien’s handling of the Judicial Division’s interests in these debates was exemplary and he deserves recognition for his hard work.

Other excellent work by members of the Lawyers Conference deserves recognition as well. Merril Hirsh, the Chairperson of the Court Appointed Neutrals Committee, continues to impress with his efforts in leading that committee. In addition to his efforts in providing articles for the Judges' Journal and developing and presenting programs, he currently is leading the effort to propose a Resolution to be presented to the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting in August urging the adoption of a State Model Rule regarding the appointment of Court Appointed Neutrals in complex litigation and other cases that create particular needs that a neutral might satisfy. The draft Model Rule is comprehensive covering the use of neutrals, the scope of appointment, method of selection, qualification procedures, neutral responsibilities, appointment orders, and the standard of review and procedures for appealing a neutral’s order. Having this work emanate from the LC is truly outstanding and Merril Hirsh’s efforts deserve recognition.

Other Committees and members of the LC are also hard at work. Efforts by Melissa Aubin to coordinate and present the U.S. Supreme Court admission program are underway. It will take place on the second day of the next session. If you have not yet been admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, I urge you to consider participating in this excellent long-standing program of the LC. In addition, efforts continue by members of the LC to write short letters to the editor of local newspapers condemning violence against members of the Judiciary. To date, several letters have been submitted with some success at publication in newspapers and news outlet websites around the country. This grass roots initiative keeps the safety of the Judiciary in the public conversation and supports understanding of the need to promote the independence of the Judiciary. Further, work is underway to present an expungement clinic in the Denver area as part of the LC public outreach efforts at the Annual Meeting.

There is a lot going on in the LC and I cannot begin to detail all the hard work of our conference in this article. The LC is involved in exciting and ground breaking programs and projects. I encourage you all to get involved with one of the Lawyers Conference Committees and to help further the great work done by the Conference. 

Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

2022-2023 Chair, Lawyers Conference

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