June 01, 2016

Connect, Communicate, Commit

Eileen Smith Ewing

With the beginning of a new ABA bar year, a new Section Chair feels a bit like that minor Roman god Janus: perched in an archway, looking backward and forward at once.

What a great year the Section of Science & Technology Law had under our immediate past Chair, Cynthia Cwik. The two-day long, heavily attended Internet of Things (IoT) National Institute featured key speakers such as Dr. Ed Felten, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for the White House, and Edith Ramirez, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Cynthia’s year of leadership also included arranging a memorable visit to a San Diego inner-city elementary school by then ABA President Paulette Brown and Ninth Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace. Cynthia then capped her year with a very successful Annual Meeting, at which she was invited by the ABA Board of Governors to present SciTech’s role and mission.

Looking forward, we are entering a new bar year replete with plans and possibilities. SciTech’s theme for the 2016–17 bar year is “Connect, Communicate, Commit: The SciTech Imperative.” If we have learned one thing from the IoT National Institute, from the work of our Healthcare Technology Committee at meetings of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and from the educational efforts of SciTech’s other 23 substantive committees, it is that we cannot and should not work alone. We will best serve you, our members, and the legal and scientific communities if we reach out of our specific intellectual silos. We need to connect and communicate across disciplines. (As E.M. Forster so memorably wrote, “Only connect.”) When we commit to communicating across disciplines—indeed, with colleagues beyond the Section and beyond the ABA—the opportunities for cross-pollination of intellectual ideas are exponential. It is imperative that SciTech take this approach. We don’t want to become parochial, stale, or irrelevant to those we serve.

A number of projects the Section plans for 2016–17 will emphasize this cooperation across disciplines, including:

  • Building on our successful ABA Annual Meeting Showcase Program (“High on Their Own Supply? Legal Issues Facing the Burgeoning Medical Marijuana Market”), our Behavioral and Neuroscience Law Committee will spearhead educational efforts through CLE programs, SciTech Lawyer articles, and other media.
  • Our 2nd Annual IoT National Institute is already on the calendar: May 10–11 in Washington, DC.
  • Humanitarian Initiative Co-Chairs Cynthia Cwik and Monica Barone are coordinating with Not On Our Watch and its partner organization The Sentry, focusing on preventing war crimes in South Sudan. The Sentry was cofounded by George Clooney and John Prendergast.

The SciTech Lawyer leads the way into our new bar year with this powerful issue on assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Start your journey into this brave new world with Brian Esser’s primer on terms and concepts you’ll need to comprehend the issues. Delve more deeply into these issues in a number of fascinating articles, including Bruce Hale and Stephen Page’s analysis of the parent’s right to reproduce versus the rights of the child. Cynthia E. Fruchtman takes us past the grave to explore legal concerns over the collection and posthumous use of a decedent’s gametes. Cutting edge—what we and you expect from The SciTech Lawyer and this Section.

Looking forward to an excellent bar year ahead.

Eileen Smith Ewing