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July 14, 2023 Lawyers Conference

LC Chair's Column

By Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

It is that time of year to reflect on this past bar year. From the beginning and throughout the year I have been blessed to be among some of the best and most talented leaders in the ABA. My predecessor Shenique Moss left the Lawyers Conference (LC) in great shape and provided much needed and appreciated guidance as our Immediate Past Chair, and she did a tremendous job with nominations of new Executive Committee members, officers, and award recipients. I am very excited to turn the reigns over to Colemon Potts, who will be the next Chair of the LC. His ideas, vision, and enthusiastic leadership are infectious and will serve the conference well. Please give him all the support shown to me this year as he embarks on a year of great accomplishments.

A lot was accomplished this past year and there are many folks to thank for all their efforts. Melissa Aubin once again planned and presented our annual U.S. Supreme Court admission program. After Covid-related abstention, she put together a well-attended and much appreciated in person program. We look forward to continuing this important and well-received program. Rick Bien did a tremendous job directing the House of Delegates Resolution process and marshalled all the various positions and votes of the many conferences of the Judicial Division. It is always comforting working with Rick as he really, really knows what he is doing.

Toward that end, special recognition must go to Merril Hirsh for his leadership of the Court-Appointed Neutral Committee. As I write this article, he and the Committee are hard at work garnering support, taking comments, and revising the two resolutions to be presented to the House of Delegates in August. The first resolution seeks to support changing references from “Special Master” to “Court-Appointed Neutral.” The second resolution supporting a Model Rule regarding the appointment of Court-Appointed Neutrals. The amount of time, energy, and commitment Merril has put into these resolutions is tremendous and shines favorably on the work of the LC.

Another wonderful project started this year was to support a proposal to the Board of Governors to permit outside fundraising to support publication of Many Faces of the Law children’s book featuring U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) woman attorney and the first AAPI woman to serve in the U.S. Senate; Stephen Zack, a former ABA President and prominent Hispanic trial lawyer; Judge Michelle Childs, a prominent African American woman attorney who was recently confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (and perhaps others). This book will profile high-profile ethnically and racially diverse lawyers and judges whose lives exemplify the work lawyers do in serving the public. As coined by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, books should be windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors that allow children to see themselves reflected in the stories they read as such multicultural education builds compassion and empathy and builds the foundation for a civil society.

Finally, the LC participated in a project to write short letters to the editor of their local newspaper and other media outlets denouncing threats and violence against the judiciary. By virtue of this grass roots approach the intent was to promote civility in the justice system. And an article entitled “Recent Efforts and the Role of Lawyers in Promoting Judicial Security” was accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of The Judge’s Journal, the award-winning publication of the Judicial Division.

It has been my honor to serve as Chair of the LC this past year. Thanks to everyone on the Executive Committee who participated in our many activities and projects this past year. And, special thanks go to our outstanding ABA staff, Danielle Norwood, Julianna Peacock, and Tori Jo Wible, each of whom provided me with thoughtful guidance, encouragement, and support throughout the year.          

Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

2022-2023 Chair, Lawyers Conference

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