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Cybersecurity and DOMA among legal topics discussed at upcoming ABA Midyear Meeting


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Cybersecurity and DOMA among legal topics discussed at upcoming ABA Midyear Meeting

By John Glynn

Legal experts will convene to discuss some of today’s hottest topics, from the Defense of Marriage Act and LGBT rights to cybersecurity in light of the Target data breach incident, at the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting Feb. 5 to 10 in Chicago.

High-profile panelists at the meeting include Olympic gold medalist and lawyer Nancy Hogshead-Makar, who will discuss Russia’s anti-gay legislation and the free speech rights of athletes and spectators at international sporting events such as the Olympics.      

Other subject-matter experts include Kathryn J. Kennedy, director for the Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at the John Marshall Law School, who will discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA. Col. Dawn D. Hankins and Capt. Amanda K. Snipes will speak on the Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel Program, which trains Air Force lawyers to advise sexual assault victims. Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson, directors of the documentary “A Place at the Table,” which tells the story of hunger in America, will host a screening and discussion of their film.

In addition to the nearly 750 events at this premier gathering of legal professionals, the ABA House of Delegates — the association’s policymaking body — will gather at 9 a.m. Feb. 10 at the meeting headquarters, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, in the Grand Ballroom, Gold Level, East Tower.

Randall T. Shepard, chair of the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, will present the task force’s final report to the House of Delegates. The report will call on law schools, bar associations, regulators and others to develop ways to reduce the cost and improve the value of a law degree, enable greater experimentation and innovation in law schools and expand opportunities for delivery of legal services.

For more details on the proposals for debate and vote during the one-day House of Delegates session, click here

Online registration is easier than ever.

Among Midyear Meeting program highlights are:  

Thursday, Feb. 6

“Privacy in the Digital Age — Is There Even a Barn Door Left to Close?” — Panelists will consider how consumers can protect their privacy and not be followed or whether, once the choice is made to go online, all bets are off. The panelists will draw from industry, public interest groups and government regulators.
1 – 2:30 p.m., Zurich E, First Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“They’ll Take My Big Gulp From My Cold, Dead Hands — Public Health, the Police Power and the Nanny State” — The panelists will compare various state and federal approaches with the common question: What limits on personal choice can be adopted in the name of public health, the environment and the traditional police powers exercised by governments?
2:45 – 4:15 p.m., Zurich E, First Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel 

Friday, Feb. 7

“Disaster Response and Preparedness: Hot Topics in Urban Mass Catastrophes”  This program will inform those interested in preparation for and response to the inevitable but unpredictable urban mass disaster. Experts will share developments from around the country to help in coping with catastrophic events.
8 – 9 a.m., Lucerne Ballroom 1, Ballroom Level, Swissotel

“A Town Hall Forum on the School-to-Prison Pipeline: What Are the Problems? What Are the Solutions?” — Join a dynamic open town hall forum that will bring together those who live in and along the school-to-prison pipeline, bar leaders, leaders interested in implicit bias, experts who have developed successful programs across the country to address pipeline issues and individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds that are working to address this issue.
9 – 11 a.m., Toronto, Gold Level, West Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago   

“DOMA Overruled: Implications for Health Care Plans and Other Employee Benefits” — As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, same-sex couples who are legally married in any state are required to be recognized as “spouses” for purposes of federal law. This panel will examine the immediate implications for employers maintaining health and welfare plans, retirement plans and other fringe benefit programs.
9:15 – 10:15 a.m., Zurich B, First Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“Poverty and State/County Family Intervention Due to Alleged Child Abuse and Neglect”  A panel of attorneys and public policy experts will explore how changes in U.S. child abuse and neglect laws might better address the poverty-child protection nexus.
10 a.m. – noon, Grand Suite 3, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago    

“Protecting the Rights of Students and Student Organizations in Public Schools” — This panel will focus on the issues that contribute toward intolerant environments in public schools, particularly in regards to bullying, harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ students and associated Gay-Straight Alliance organizations on campus; tactical decisions in advocating for the rights of these students, particularly in states with explicit sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression protections; the legal framework for such efforts; and ways in which lawyers can collaborate with community organizations to achieve success.
10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Zurich B, First Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“Virtual Currencies: Bitcoin and the Role of New Currency in Criminal Enterprise” — This panel will explore the uses of “virtual currencies” in both white collar and street crime operations, with a focus on money laundering, tax and other potential violations and implications. Invited panelists include key representatives from the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Sections and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The panel will be rounded out by practitioners from the white collar, criminal tax and virtual currency regulatory areas.
10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., Montreux 1, Second Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“The Post-Miller v. Alabama World — Redefining Juvenile Justice and Life Without Parole” — This program will examine the state of juvenile law practice since Miller v. Alabama was decided. Issues to be covered include the status of the post-Miller cases dealing with the retroactivity of the decision; the application of Miller to other juvenile issues such as adult transfer; the evidence that should be considered at a Miller resentencing hearing; and the impact of Miller on a trial judge, including its impact on existing programs for court-involved children.
12:30 – 2 p.m., Montreux 1, Second Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“Meeting the Educational Needs of Highly Mobile Students: The Education Rights of Homeless Children and Youth and Those in the Child Welfare System” — Panelists will examine the McKinney-Vento Act and other child welfare laws that support school continuity and stability for children, and they will provide advice for legal advocate educators and policymakers for using these laws to benefit children experiencing homelessness or in foster care.
1:30 – 3 p.m., Grand Suite 3, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago  

“Olympian Troubles: Responses to Russia’s Anti-Gay Legislation During the Sochi Winter Olympics” — The panel will consider the free speech rights of athletes and spectators at international sporting events. It will also consider the treatment of LGBT people in other countries and discuss how the international community can work to minimize violence against LGBT people in Russia and around the world.
2 – 3:30 p.m., Plaza Ballroom A, Lobby Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

“Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel Program: One Year Later” — The Special Victims’ Counsel program trains Air Force lawyers to advise sexual assault victims and help them navigate the criminal justice system. Panelists include Col. Dawn D. Hankins, chief of the Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel Division, and Capt. Amanda K. Snipes, special victims counsel at Scott Air Force Base and 375th Air Mobility Wing general law chief.
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Montreux 3, Second Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“Screening and Talkback of the Documentary ‘A Place at the Table’” — Fifty million Americans — one in four children — don’t know where their next meal is from. “A Place at the Table” tells the powerful stories of three such Americans who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. In a riveting journey that will change forever how you think about the hungry, “A Place at the Table” shows how the issue could be solved forever, once the American public decides — as they have in the past — that ending hunger is in the best interests of us all. The film will be followed by a discussion with co-directors Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson.
3 – 5:30 p.m., Grand Suite 3, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago  

Saturday, Feb. 8

Ninth Annual Summit on Indigent Defense Improvement” — This all-day conference will review national developments in indigent defense, such as new court decisions, legislation, funding and federal actions. In one program, lawyers from the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions and exoneree Terrill Swift will recount the critical need for effective assistance of counsel (3 – 4:30 p.m.). Also at the summit, presenters will introduce a new study that will help public defender offices develop maximum workload standards and staffing requirements.
7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., 321 N. Clark St., ABA headquarters

“Critical Cyber Issues Affecting you Today” — Recent data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus underscore the importance of cybersecurity to the private sector. In the wake of the Snowden and Manning incidents, it is increasingly harder for both the government and the private sector to protect its assets and secrets. Panelists will discuss these breaches as well as current cyber threats, applicable laws and the relevant ethical standards.
9 – 10:30 a.m., Plaza Ballroom A, Lobby Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

“What’s the Real Truth? The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Testing” — The panel of experts will explore the benefits and limitations of direct-to-consumer testing and will discuss the advantages or disadvantages of an individual’s desire to know more about his or her genetic predispositions without the benefit of medical knowledge or counseling.
9:30 – 11 a.m., Vevey 1, Second Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“A Profession in Crisis? New Results from the After the JD Study of Lawyer Careers” — The After the JD Study has been following a national sample of lawyers who passed the bar in the year 2000 and has interviewed them in 2003, 2007 and 2012. The panel presents some of the first results from the 2012 survey, including data on what these lawyers are doing 12 years into their careers, whether they are still satisfied with their decision to become a lawyer and whether women and minorities are achieving professional success and satisfaction at the same rate as their peers.
2 – 4:30 p.m., Columbus Hall EF, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

Sunday, Feb. 9

“Task Force on Legal Access Job Corps Open Forum” — The Legal Access Job Corps Task Force, created by ABA President James R. Silkenat, is charged with finding ways to match unemployed or underemployed new lawyers with the significant unmet legal needs of people of low and moderate incomes. Learn how bar associations, law schools, law firms, courts, nonprofits and other stakeholders are employing creative solutions to address this mission.
2 – 4 p.m., Skyway Suite 272, Blue Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago 

“Election Reform Town Hall: Fixing Our Electoral System to Make Every Vote Count” — In recent elections, issues involving voter registration and identification, voting machine accuracy, long lines at polls and vote counting continue to exist and affect the way voting in America occurs, and is perceived to occur. This town hall will allow participants to voice their thoughts on the current state of our electoral process.
1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Skyway Suite 260, Blue Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

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