NEW ABA Midyear Meeting Event!

Defending Liberty and Pursuing Justice Summit

Working Together for Access, Equity and Inclusion

Make a positive impact and be part of the change.

Make a positive impact and be part of the change.

Get Informed. Get Inspired. Get Involved.

February 14-15, 2020
Austin, TX
JW Marriott Austin

Join us for a first of its kind free ABA two-day summit taking place February 14-15 as part of the 2020 ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, TX. Designed to engage and mobilize the legal profession on critical justice issues, the summit begins with a keynote address by Austin Mayor Steve Adler followed by two days of free CLE programming showcasing innovations in advocacy and the delivery of holistic legal services and pro bono through a race-equity lens. Attendees are also invited to participate in a variety of other substantive programming, meetings and social events offered at the ABA Midyear Meeting.

Whatever issue drives your advocacy or defines your career, this complimentary program provides a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with legal experts and influencers who share your social justice, pro bono and diversity interests.  

Agenda at a Glance

Friday, February 14th

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.:

We Don’t Need to Carry the Work Alone: Interdisciplinary Collaborations (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: In representing clients, lawyers may lack the requisite expertise to effectively identify and resolve some legal issues raised by a particular case.  Another organized body of knowledge may be necessary.  As a result, lawyers are turning to experts from other disciplines and incorporating them into their legal teams, including social workers, medical and mental health professionals, educators, and former clients or individuals with lived experience. The ABA has supported models of interdisciplinary legal representation for over a decade and encourages use of this model to serve clients in child welfare, immigration, disability, housing, and death penalty cases among others. Our panel of experts will discuss various examples of how this model works in practice, including ethical considerations, and will examine the strengths they offer, the challenges they present, and lessons learned from those in the field.  

Panelists: Jayesh Patel, President and Managing Attorney, Street Democracy; Richard LaVallo, Disability Rights Texas; Richard Barinbaum, LEO Lecturer I, University of Michigan School of Social Work; Brenda I. Piñero Carrasquillo, Esq., Director of Programs, ProBAR; Randi Chavez, Director of Mitigation and Investigation, Texas Defender Service

Keeping Your Client Free: Avoiding Adult Guardianship (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 2

Description: This session will discuss decision supports and other tools to avoid guardianship and explore how to present a defense aimed at avoiding a guardianship, advocating for a limited guardianship or for the modification or termination of an existing guardianship.  We will include how cultural differences lead to unnecessary guardianships. 

Panelists: Charles Sabatino, Director, Commission on Law and Aging; Catherine Anne Seal, Co-Chair, Surrogate Decision Making Committee, Real Property, Trusts and Estate Law Section, Immediate Past President of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Research in Action: Free Research and Advocacy Tips from the Law Library of Congress and ABA Grassroots Advocacy Team (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 3

Description: Experts from the Law Library of Congress will teach you how to use a multitude of free online resources to conduct legal and legislative research to propel your advocacy efforts forward. Curious about what is happening on the Hill—and how to inform that process? The ABA Governmental Affairs Office will tell you where things stand in Washington and how you can get involved by joining the ABA Grassroots Advocacy Team.

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.:

Fight to Preserve Safe Haven in the United States (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: The United States has recently retreated from its domestic and international obligations to provide safe-haven to refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing war, persecution, and civil and domestic strife.  This rapid reversal has been achieved through various forms of executive action including the reversal of long-standing legal precedent at the Board of Immigration Appeals, the implementation of new bars to asylum, the slashing of refugee admissions, and the expansion of the “Remain in Mexico” program formally known as the “Migrant Protection Protocols.” The dismantling of our asylum system is especially troubling in a country that was founded on principles of religious and political freedom. In this program you will hear from national experts who will discuss how these changes have affected individuals fleeing persecution and how they have impacted core principles of due process and access to counsel. While Congress has failed to pass any related legislation, the federal courts have blocked some of the most restrictive policies, while allowing others to proceed.  Our panelists will discuss challenges facing the immigration system and offer recommendations to resolve them.  At the end of the day, we will be judged on how we respond to current day challenges.

Panelists: Denise Gilman, University of Texas School of Law; Karen Grisez, Fried Frank et al; Laura Pena, ABA ProBAR; Melissa Ellen Crow, American Immigration Council; Oscar A. Chacon, Alianza Americas

What Do Eddie Murphy, Marilyn Monroe, and Steve Jobs Have in Common? The US Foster Care System (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 2

Description: Foster Care is one of the most important and least understood legal systems in our country. By looking at how foster care affected life outcomes for each of these individuals we invite you to come learn about how this legal system works, the rights involved, and the legal objectives sought. After understanding the underlying objectives of the system we hope you will also be excited to partner with the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk in implementing the 2019 ABA Family Integrity Policy to promote access to justice for children and families in your jurisdiction and across the country. 

Moderator: Prudence Beidler Carr, Director, ABA Center on Children and the Law

Panelists: Judge Ernestine Gray, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court; Dafna Gozani, National Center for Youth Law; Michael Dsida, Committee for Public Counsel Services; Brenda Robinson, Children’s Law Center

Legally Stolen Lands: Impacts and Remedies for Historically Disadvantaged People (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 3

Description: The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, adopted in 15 states and the US Virgin Islands and currently introduced in at least 6 states and the District of Columbia, is a very important, even historic remedy, though not a cure-all, for the inherent instability of ownership where title to land is held in common over generations, particularly among socially and economically disadvantaged property owners who are disproportionately African American and other people of color. Partition actions in rural and urban/gentrifying areas adversely impact owners who lack clear title. Join us in person or online for a discussion of the issues.

Panelists: Erica Levine Powers, Heather Katharine Way, Skipper Stipemaas, Thomas W. Mitchell

3:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

One Person (N)one Vote: Gerrymandering with the Help of the Disenfranchised (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: This panel will examine modern-day residency requirements and moral character tests that continue to bar homeless people, students, and those with criminal convictions or awaiting pre-trial detention from voting.  The speakers will also analyze the implications of these voting policies when it comes to obtaining accurate census counts and redistricting, especially with respect to prison-based gerrymandering and transient populations.  In addition, the panelists will explore the role the ABA can play in advocating for increased ballot access and fairer state redistricting plans to protect these vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Moderator: Nancy Abudu, Southern Poverty Law Center

Panelists: Sean Jengwei Young, James W. Heaton, Esq.

Ethical Red Flags in the Public Sector (Ethics CLE: $30)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 2

Description:  This program focuses on the unique ethical issues confronted by public lawyers using an entertaining, interactive format.  Expert panelists dramatize illustrative hypothetical scenarios followed by a discussion session after each hypo. Program topics include: special conflicts of interest for former and current government lawyers; duties to former clients; responsibilities of supervisory lawyer; organization as a client, pro bono service; and more.

Panelists: Greg Brooker, Katherine Cary, Paula Frederick, Wendy Muchman, Sharon Pandak, William Slease

Holistic Representation: Models for Assisting Clients to Address the Root Causes of Justice System Involvement (Free CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 3

Description:  Involvement with the criminal justice system can have enumerable civil legal consequences, from housing and benefit eligibility to loss of professional licenses. Conversely, involvement with the civil justice system can also have criminal law implications, such as when the loss of housing results in charges for trespass and other vagrancy-related offenses. This program will examine efforts to work with clients holistically to achieve resolution of criminal, civil, and non-legal problems that lead to ongoing justice system involvement. Attendees will learn how these innovative, interdisciplinary programs help stabilize clients’ lives, reduce recidivism, and create safer communities. Our panel of experts from diverse areas of practice will also explore how to create effective collaborations and partnerships among public defense providers, civil legal services organizations, and social services providers.

Panelists: Maricarmen Garza, Janet Sabel, Kate Mogulescu

Saturday, February 15th

8:00 A.M - 9:30 A.M 

School to Prison Pipeline: From Report to Action (CLE)
Diversifying Law Firms 

9:45 A.M – 11:15 A.M
LGBTQ+ “State of the Union” (CLE)
The Disenfranchised Among Us (CLE)

12:00 P.M – 2:00 P.M
Spirit of Excellence Awards Luncheon

2:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Police Civil Rights Litigation: From Ferguson to Dallas - 2020 Vision Today? (CLE)
Men in the Mix: How to Engage Men on Issues Related to Gender in the Profession (CLE)

4:15 P.M. – 5:45 P.M.
Implicit Bias (CLE)
Sweatt V. Painter

5:30 P.M -7:00 P.M
SOGI Stonewall Awards Reception

Download the schedule. 

Get Informed—Get Inspired—Get Involved through:

  • 15 complimentary CLE programs on critical justice issues, including: immigration, domestic and sexual violence, homelessness and poverty, elder law, family law, children’s rights, voting rights, ethics, bias and discrimination, constitutional protections, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, and social justice. In addition to educating attendees on best practices and innovations, these programs will serve to inspire and teach participants how to take action in their workplaces and communities—along with how to join ABA efforts in these areas.
  • Multiple complimentary receptions providing networking opportunities and inspiration through the celebration of diversity and inclusion trailblazers.
  • Opportunity to purchase a ticket and join 500 attendees at the ABA Midyear Meeting flagship and inspirational event—the Spirit of Excellence Awards Luncheon, celebrating legal trailblazers that have made a substantive impact on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.  
  • Learn what the ABA is doing to advance the rule of law and promote innovations in advocacy and how you can get involved.
  • Opportunity to participate in a variety of other substantive programming, meetings and social events offered at the ABA Midyear Meeting.

Special Ticketed Luncheon Event

Join us for the 2020 Spirit of Excellence Awards Luncheon, taking place on Saturday, February 15th at JW Marriott 110 East 2nd Street Austin, TX.

Participating ABA entities

Everyone is Welcome to Attend

You do not need to be an ABA Member to attend this free two-day CLE event February 14-15, 2020, but space is limited. Through this special track of programming, the ABA is inviting you to join us at the 2020 Midyear Meeting in Austin at the JW Marriott Hotel to check out the ABA, learn about innovations in advocacy from experts, and discover how you can get involved and make an impact.

Register for the Event

This event is being held in association with the 2020 ABA Midyear Meeting at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX. There is no fee to register for the Midyear Meeting or this special track of programming, but space is limited. To register, click here and follow the Midyear Meeting login process (this is for ABA Members and non-members).  

Follow the below steps for registration:

  • Step 1: Please make sure to click the box for ‘Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice Summit Registration’.
  • Step 2: Form to fill out all your contact information
  • Step 3: Confirm your registration options
  • Step 4: Course selection - click ‘Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice Summit’; then select the tracks you plan to attend during the Summit
  • Step 5: Review your information
  • Step 6: Payment (only if you plan to attend the ethics program or the Saturday luncheon)
  • Step 7: Final confirmation

Questions? Please contact Sharon Terrill at

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