NEW ABA Midyear Meeting Event!

Defending Liberty and Pursuing Justice Summit

Working Together for Access, Equity and Inclusion

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

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.

Thank you for joining us for our first Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice Summit that took 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 began with a keynote address by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and was 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. 

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

We will see you in Chicago, February 19-20, 2021!

Agenda at a Glance

Friday, February 14th

9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:

Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice Plenary
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 4

Description: Doors open at 9 a.m. for a coffee and continental breakfast sponsored by the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. The Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice Opening Plenary Session starts at 9:30, featuring a keynote address by Austin Mayor Steve Adler focusing on the critical role of lawyers and the legal community in addressing complex societal issues like homelessness through bipartisan discourse grounded in law and policy advocacy. Following the Mayor’s remarks, Judge Ernestine Gray will speak about the role of the ABA in defending liberty and pursuing justice and how she has leveraged her involvement in ABA activities and service on many boards and committees to further her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of children and families.

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

Link to materials

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

CLE materials in hard copy format will be available at the session. Electronic copies will be made available for download at the end of the Midyear programming.

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: This program is designed to provide practical guidance on how to gear your research to make the most impact and how to best communicate your research data. Participants also will discover new digital tools and learn which ones to use and how to use them to get the best results and explore how to put your research in action by learning advocacy tips that will enable you to know how to get involved. Our presenters include members of ABA’s DC Grassroots advocacy team who will share their insights and help you to discover why ABA is in the best position to lead the conversation and what data and research is valuable in Washington. Participants also will gain valuable insights from Barbara Bavis, Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian at the Law Library of Congress, on how to use free online resources to conduct legal and legislative research.

Get answers to your research questions, including where and how to locate federal materials using free online resources from governmental entities. You’ll also learn how to use non-governmental databases and effectively use resources like case law, articles, executive orders, and much more. Take-aways include up-to-the-minute information, highlighting both newly available resources, and identifying updates to more established resources; a complete “cheat sheet” for legal or legislative research conducted outside of the main subscription databases; and resources from all branches of government that are valuable in conducting legal and legislative research.

CLE materials in hard copy format will be available at the session. Electronic copies will be made available for download at the end of the Midyear programming.

ABA StCLLC's 19th Amendment Traveling Exhibit will be on display during this program.

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, Southern Poverty Law Center; Oscar A. Chacon, Alianza Americas

CLE materials in hard copy format will be available at the session. Electronic copies will be made available for download at the end of the Midyear programming.

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
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

CLE materials in hard copy format will be available at the session. Electronic copies will be made available for download at the end of the Midyear programming.

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

CLE materials in hard copy format will be available at the session. Electronic copies will be made available for download at the end of the Midyear programming.

ABA StCLLC's 19th Amendment Traveling Exhibit will be on display during this program.

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
Sean Jengwei Young, James W. Heaton, Esq., Chad Dunn

Link to CLE Materials

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

Information on how to download the CLE materials electronically will be provided at the session.

ABA StCLLC's 19th Amendment Traveling Exhibit will be on display during this program.

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.

Moderator: Malia Brink, ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants
Panelists: Mitchelle Woodson, Think Dignity; Abner Burnett, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid; Kathryn Dyer, University of Texas School of Law; Trudy Strassburger, The Justice Collaborative

Information on how to download the CLE materials electronically will be provided at the session.

5:30 p.m. -7:00 p.m.

Robert F. Drinan Award Reception Honoring Robert N. Weiner
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 7

Description: Named in honor of the late Father Robert F. Drinan, a former member of Congress who chaired the Section in 1990-91, this award recognizes individuals whose sustained and extraordinary commitment has advanced the Section's mission of providing leadership to the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.

6:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m.

Joint Reception: Spirit of Excellence Honorees/Alexander Award Presentation
Location: JW Marriott, Level 2, Brazos

Description: Named in honor of Raymond Pace Alexander - the first African American to graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and judge on the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia - and Raymond's wife, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander - the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States and the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School - the Alexander Award was created to honor an individual or organization that has demonstrated exemplary leadership and success in educational pipeline work.


Saturday, February 15th

8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. 

School to Prison Pipeline: From Report to Action (CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: This program will explore the five primary recommendations contained in that report and discuss how the legal profession can work on the state and local level to interrupt the school to prison pipeline and ensure equity in education and discipline for all students.

Panelists:  Twanda Turner-Hawkin, Dematic Corp. and KION Americas; Sonya Crider, Seattle YMCA; Benjamin Crump, Ben Crump Law PLLC

9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

LGBTQ+ “State of the Union” (CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: This program will examine the current state of LGBTQ+ laws in the United States including: an analysis of the oral arguments in the Title VII cases pending before the United States Supreme Court; Transgender legal issues like the state of the Military ban and healthcare protections; issues effecting LGBTQ+ law students; the Equality Act and other timely topics.

Panelists: Fred Smith Jr., Emory University School of Law; Chase Strangio, ACLU; Diana Flynn, Lambda Legal; Judith O'Kelley, LGBT Bar

The Disenfranchised Among Us (CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 2

Description: In the year in which we celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, poll taxes, prison records, and address limitations imposed by the government all keep qualified legal voters from exercising the important right each U.S. citizen has to vote either currently or in the past.  This program will explore the barriers which prevent citizens otherwise entitled to vote in U.S. elections, and will explore the implications of continuing to employ those restrictions upon the fundamental right to self-determination.  The program will also discuss efforts to restore voting rights to those released following complete service of sentences issued for criminal offenses and also will focus on those whose only address is a post office box such as those residing on Reservations.

Panelists: Lisa Atkinson, Tulalip Tribal Courts Judges; Benjamin Griffith, Griffith Law Firm; Chad Vickery, International Foundation for Electoral Systems; Matthew Campbell, Native American Rights Fund

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Spirit of Excellence Awards Luncheon

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Men in the Mix: How to Engage Men on Issues Related to Gender in the Profession (CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: Participants will: 1. Learn what men and women identify as the value women lawyers bring to the profession; 2. Better understand what prevents some men from participating in women’s affinity groups that focus on the advancement of women in the legal profession; 3. Learn about tools and best practices women can employ to encourage men to join the conversation on advancing women in the legal profession to ultimately bridge the gender gap.

Panelists: Paulette Brown, Locke Lord, LLP; Hon. Rodolfo A. Ruiz III, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida; Evan Anderson, Placed Legal Strategies; Chris Brown, City of Mansfield; Katherine Larkin-Wong, Latham and Watkins; Anne Collier, Arudia

Police Civil Rights Litigation: From Ferguson to Dallas - 2020 Vision Today? (CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 2

Description: Criticism of police activity, particularly concerning police operations and police interaction with suspects and citizens, is publicized regularly in the news and on social media. Attacks against police officers also receive much publicity. The result is a growing public awareness of police operations from both the officer's perspective as well as from the perspective of police suspects and persons of interest. In both instances, police/public interaction often results in a federal civil rights lawsuit. This program provides updated information from a previous ABA Webinar and is designed to explore current issues facing practitioners on both sides of such lawsuits, whether bringing such a case on behalf of a plaintiff against law enforcement or defending the case on behalf of the police and/or governmental entity. Attending this program will provide insight from experienced practitioners from both sides of the docket.

Panelists: Edwin P. Voss, Jr., Brown & Hofmeister LLP; Paul Henderson, San Francisco District Attorneys; Ronald Alan Norwood, Lewis Rice, LLC

4:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

From Separate But Equal to Affirmative Action: Where Are We 70 Years After Sweatt v. Painter?
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 1

Description: The African American Committee of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section will take an in-depth strategic look at the legal opinion in the landmark Supreme Court case of Swett v. Painter, involving an African-American law school applicant who was denied admission into the University of Texas Law School solely because of his race. What happened to other prospective African American law students then, what is happening now and what does the future hold seventy years later?

Implicit Bias: Governmental Complicity (CLE)
Location: JW Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon 2

Description: Do governmental policies perpetuate implicit bias?  Our expert panelists will examine some long-standing and new governmental policies, laws and regulations and their impact upon communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in housing, transportation, education and the criminal justice system. This is the first in a series of discussions to determine if there is governmental complicity in implicit bias and if so, if there are ways to neutralize its impact.  In this discussion on Implicit Bias: Governmental Complicity, panelists will lay the foundation for future, in depth discussions in each area of interest.  They will also review metrics, laws and legislative initiatives governmental entities use to level the playing field and determine which ones pass or fail.

Panelists: C. Elisia Frazier, City of Atlanta Department of Law; Sarah Elisia, University of New Hampshire Law School; Kimberly Jade Norwood, Washington University School of Law

5:30 P.M -7:00 P.M

SOGI Stonewall Awards Reception
Location: JW Marriott Brazos Room

Description: The Stonewall Award recognizes lawyers, members of the judiciary and legal academia who have effected real change to remove barriers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the legal profession, the world, state, state/or locale and championed diversity for the LGBT community.

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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