January 02, 2017

Chair’s Message

Dear Section friends,

I wish I could be a law student or young lawyer again, so I could do a “do over” and start out a member of the Section of State and Local Government when I first joined the ABA. Not that my career hasn’t gone well. It has! But, when I see and hear what membership in our Section does for a law student who thinks she might want to become a municipal lawyer or a young lawyer who wants to make a career move to focus on land use law, I am really envious. There are so many opportunities for mentoring, networking, writing for our several publications, and speaking at webinars and in-person CLE’s. You name it! We have committees for just about any state or local law topic you can think of.

So, why am I “preaching to the choir” of recipients of State & Local Law News? Because we want you to become our ambassadors and spread the work as to why you have chosen to belong to our Section. Just tonight, at my meeting of attorneys general in Florida, I recruited a young lawyer to our Section who works in governmental affairs for a pharmaceutical company. He is excited to get involved in our AGDJ (State Attorney General and Department of Justice Issues Committee). Since he is already a member of the ABA, all he needs to do is go online and sign up for the Section ($60 a year) and the committee (free!). We already have over 400 young lawyer members and over 5,500 law students. Let’s commit to doubling those numbers in the near future!

My column space is limited, but I want to be sure to thank the great sponsors of our Fall Conference held shortly before Thanksgiving in Phoenix. It was a wonderful meeting, with fabulous speakers on such topics as Election Dissection (yes—perfectly timed to try to make some sense of what had just happened on November 8), and many topics that touched on tribal issues, with Arizona tribal law experts and icons, like Professor Rebecca Tsosie, our keynote, and the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation—Edith Branch. We couldn’t have had such a fun and robust meeting without the financial assistance of the Dentons law firm and the Arizona business, DriveTime. Thank you to my friends Terry Goddard and Felicia Rotellini for stepping up to make this happen. A highlight of the meeting was our Young Lawyers Committee sponsored community service project at the Native American Garden. We worked hard fertilizing and seeding. Can’t wait to see the results in the spring!

Up next: Midyear in Miami. We have taken over the Land Use Institute and had a full day and a half program at the Akerman law firm. We were so honored to get to use their lovely space for this cutting-edge program. Other Midyear Section topics included (back by popular demand) student debt and opioid abuse, as well as our regular diversity hot topics and diversity networking reception.

I couldn’t be more pleased that our Spring Conference (April 27–30) is in Saint Louis! We are focusing our programming on social justice issues, with the collaboration of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and the Forum on Affordable Housing. The Section of Public Contract Law also will join us for our annual joint symposium.

We will conclude the “bar year” with the Annual Meeting in New York. Our Section is already planning robust programming for New York, where many of our leaders, including the editor of this newsletter, the incomparable Erica Levine Powers, and former Section Chair, Patricia Salkin (now Provost of Touro University) live. One of our Council members, Lai Sun Yee is arranging a tour of the World Trade Center, where her FEMA offices are located.

Lest you think all we do is go to meetings, let me remind you that most of our committees meet regularly by phone and engage in listserv communications; there are webinars galore for you to sign up for; and lots of reading for you to keep up with about all the issues that make state and local government law a great area of law practice. If you are not able to join us in person, Section committees continue to offer monthly cutting-edge programs for our members: the AGDJ Committee hosted a webinar called “Cars, Cars, Cars!” on everything you wanted to know about automobile registration and litigation in late February, and on March 1, the Land Use Committee sponsored a webinar on wind, moderated by Ron Cope. The very good news for the lawyers and law students—and judges—who make up our membership: the coming years are likely to be a “full employment act” for state and local government lawyers—both those in private as well as public law practice. Please plan to get even more involved in our Section activities to get as much value as possible for your membership dues. Feel free to email me directly at ellen.rosenblum@gmail.com if you have any questions about the Section and how you can participate—at whatever level of involvement you wish.