Despite these unprecedented times, the ABA successfully moved its 2020 Annual Meeting into cyberspace by leveraging its experience with delivering online content. Virtual attendees feasted on 12 hours of CLE Showcase Programs, participated in social and networking events, and attended numerous receptions and meetings.
At the start of the General Assembly, attendees were treated to a surprise greeting from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. The ABA Medal was presented to William H. Neukom, former ABA President, founder and chief executive officer of the World Justice Project, lead lawyer for Microsoft Corporation for nearly 25 years, and now a lecturer at Stanford Law School. After the presentation, attendees watched as Neukom interviewed Bill Gates and allowed Gates to exhibit his insight on matters such as the past, present, and future of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice hosted the 2020 Thurgood Marshall Award Celebration, honoring Award Recipient Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans. The event also featured remarks by Marian Wright Edelman and a conversation with Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Annual Meeting schedule was packed with CLE programming covering wide-ranging and timely topics such as election hacking, access to justice, COVID-19, covering women of color in the legal profession, the Annual Supreme Court Review, climate change, judicial independence, and the power of women in elections. The diverse panels included Congressman James Clyburn, the Honorable Kenneth Starr, and former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Mari Carmen Aponte.
In addition to the conduct of virtual business, attendees enjoyed virtual diversions such as Trivia Night, SideBar, and the Virtual Wellbeing Retreat by Marriott International Luxury Brands. Entity governance and business meetings occurred throughout the schedule, and, as usual, the meeting and bar year closed with the House of Delegates meeting.
The TIPS Fall Leadership Meeting is in the planning stages and projected to be virtual. The ABA Midyear Meeting is scheduled for February 17-22, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.