This is my first column as your Chair, and I couldn’t be more excited to serve in this position. I follow some truly outstanding leaders, most recently Caddo Parrish Attorney Donna Frazier, from Shreveport, Louisiana, who did a wonderful job as Chair. Donna took us to Louisville, Kentucky, and to Puerto Rico, with one great program after another, emphasizing the strength of our Section—Diversity!
We are diverse in many ways, including being the only section that actually has a Diversity Law Committee, which sponsors our Hot Topics in Diversity program at the ABA Midyear Meeting and our Diversity Outreach Networking Reception.
What brings us together is an interest in the law that pertains to state and local government practice and in meeting and connecting with others who enjoy the fascinating issues that come up in these practice areas. Our membership of 9,000 includes primarily private practitioners, but also government lawyers and judges. We pride ourselves on having one of the largest and most active committees of any Section—our Young Lawyers Committee, headed by Chris Brown and Elizabeth Peetz. We also have 6,200 law student members. We value our law student members who participate in all aspects of the Section and are truly the future leaders of the legal profession
To introduce myself a bit: I am currently serving as the Oregon Attorney General. I was recruited to the Section about ten years ago after serving as ABA Secretary and in many other roles in the ABA—and I haven’t looked back! That’s because the Section’s members were so welcoming to me that I realized I could help create a “home” in the ABA for those interested in the work of State Attorneys General. So, along with my two co-chairs, we started such a committee and have been going “great guns” the past four years, with programs on such topics as student debt, online consumer privacy, and even one on the modern automobile, which we called “Cars, Cars, Cars.”
Of course, as you well know, there is an abundance of committees in the Section—something for everyone’s interest area. Yet—many of you are not yet members of a Section Committee. Please, please, sign up for a committee today. To make it easy, here is a link (http://www.americanbar.org/groups/state_local_government/ committees.html) to all our Section Committees and an easy way to sign up. I just think you’ll get so much more out of your Section membership if you do. You don’t have to become the chair, but you might get hooked the way I did!
Also, I want to ask you to consider coming to one or more of our meetings this year. We do pride ourselves on having lots of virtual opportunities for our members, including webinars, newsletters, and our beloved law review, The Urban Lawyer. There’s lots of value from Section membership even if you never leave your desk or your laptop. But, it is a lot more fun and you get much more benefit if you come and join us at a Section meeting. And, it’s the only way to really get to know the amazing people who have chosen to join our Section.
Our next meeting is our Fall CLE Conference and Council Meeting. It is not limited to the Council or even to committee leaders. Everyone is welcome! It will be on November 17–20, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Cambry (formerly Ritz Carlton) Hotel.
If you can’t make the Arizona, meeting, then start thinking about next year: The Land Use Institute (February 1–2) and ABA Midyear Meeting (February 2–5) in Miami; our Section meeting in St. Louis ( April 27–30) where we will partner with the ABA Public Contract Law Section, Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, and Forum on Affordable Housing for a conference organized around social justice; and the grand finale of my year as Chair, the BIG APPLE—New York, New York (August 10–15 at the ABA Annual Meeting)!
We are most aware of the expense of travel and realize this is probably something you have to plan for. We look forward to meeting you in person!
I want this year to be successful for you—and I want to know how the Section can help you to be a better lawyer and to enjoy the practice just a little more. Sometimes things seem really impersonal in our digital age, but if you’d like to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me how the Section can provide more value to you—please do so—and I guarantee you a personal response.
All the best to you for a wonderful autumn and a great beginning to the 2016–2017 bar year. Thank you for making the ABA and its Section of State and Local Government Law a part of your professional life.