February 03, 2021

COVID-19, racial equity among highlights at American Bar Association Midyear Meeting Feb. 17-22

CHICAGO, Feb. 3, 2021 — New findings on the impact of COVID-19 on the legal profession, return-to-work concerns amid the pandemic, and reforms to address U.S. racial inequity are among the hot topics that will be explored at the 2021 American Bar Association Virtual Midyear Meeting Feb. 17-22.

With several dozen top-quality legal programs and events, and presentations by America’s foremost law experts and speakers, the ABA Midyear Meeting is the nation’s premier gathering of legal professionals.

The 597-member ABA House of Delegates — the association’s policy-making body — will meet Feb. 22 at 9:30 a.m. CT. For details on the proposals for debate and vote during the one-day session, click here.    

Online registration is available for news reporters (select “News Media;” no discount code needed). For assistance with registration, contact ABANews@americanbar.org or call 312-988-6134.  Credential guidelines are here.  

Newsworthy programs include:

Wednesday, Feb. 17

State-of-the-Art Best Practices for a Profession Impacted by the Pandemic The results of a new comprehensive ABA survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the legal profession will be examined by leaders of the ABA Coronavirus Task Force, who will discuss how legal employers have changed; what resources are needed by attorneys as they continue to work remotely or return to their offices; and best practices on remote practice management, lawyer mental health and more.
10:30-11:30 a.m. CT

“ADA Workplace Accommodations & COVID – Managing the Maze” The rise in number of employees disabled by the coronavirus will be discussed by Human Resources experts who will look at the Americans with Disabilities Act and reasonable accommodations under the law.
Noon-1:15 a.m. CT

Representing Landlords and Tenants in the COVID Era Strategies to work successfully with landlords and tenants during the pandemic will be shared by seasoned attorneys who will offer tips on lease drafting, modification and termination; rent recovery without evictions; as well as bankruptcy liquidation, reorganization and repayment options under chapters 7, 11 and 13.
12:30-1:30 p.m. CT

Thursday, Feb. 18

Pain and Power of Judging Three judges — Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez of the Washington State Supreme Court, Associate Justice Robert B. Foster of the Massachusetts Land Courts and Judge Tracie A. Todd of the Alabama 10th Judicial Circuit — provide firsthand accounts of being subject to and confronting implicit and explicit bias on the bench.
10-11 a.m. CT

Redistricting: What Every Lawyer Should Know about the Decennial Process of Redrawing Electoral Lines Concerns about the upcoming nationwide redrawing of congressional, state legislative and local electoral lines will be the focus of a panel of leading frontliners, including Tom Saenz of MALDEF, Leah Aden of the NAACP and Terry Ao Minnis of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.  They will examine the U.S. Census-based redistricting process that will establish political boundaries for the next decade, including key issues that may arise in various jurisdictions, the proper base for measuring population equality, legal obligations to create or maintain majority minority districts, Census quality issues, and gerrymandering based on race or party affiliation.
10:15-11:45 a.m. CT

Workstation Vaccination The workplace legal issues surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine will be discussed by employment experts: Can and should employers require vaccination? What objections might employees make and with what legal consequences? Under what circumstances should employers allow vaccinated and/or unvaccinated employees back on site? What guidance, if any, can we expect from state and federal authorities?
Noon-1 p.m. CT

Data & Racial Justice: Using Data to Drive Change State's Attorneys Kimberly Foxx of Cook County, Chicago, and Andrew Warren of Hillsborough County, Tampa, Florida, offer lessons learned from their pioneering implementation of the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators dashboard, a pilot effort to employ data to determine policy changes, ensure justice is served equally in all communities and track performance. Developers of the data model from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Florida International University and Loyola University will also participate to elaborate on their groundbreaking prosecutorial tool.
1-2:30 p.m. CT

Creating Local Change: Racial Equity & Social Justice How effective is municipal legislation aimed at advancing racial equity? Representatives from two local governments — Dallas and Montgomery County, Maryland — who have successfully implemented such measures will discuss lessons learned in the development, implementation and impacts of their racial equity and social justice laws.
2-3 p.m. CT

“Understanding and Navigating the Student Debt Crisis” A recent ABA survey finds that more than 75% of young attorneys have more than $100,000 in student loan debt and almost 90% of them say the burden has a major impact on mental health and delaying important life decisions. Panelists will discuss proposed solutions — on a practical, personal level and a systemic, policy level — to address the problems generated by such exorbitant debt.
2-3 p.m. CT

Lawyers Advancing Racial and Ethnic Diversity The ABA will recognize four legal professionals with its 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award for their commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession: Barbara L. Creel, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law; Román D. Hernández, managing partner of Troutman Pepper’s Portland, Oregon, office; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.; Lori E. Lightfoot, the first African American female mayor of Chicago; and John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Washington, D.C.
4-5 p.m. CT

Friday, Feb. 19

Emotional Influence of Gruesome Photographs in the Courtroom Janice Nadler of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law demonstrates through two experiments how gruesome photographs of a victim can increase the propensity of jurors to convict, with an increase of conviction dependent on race. Legal experts will then explore how emotionally evocative visual evidence can affect the psychology of decision-making processes — through influence on emotions, attention to evidence and legal judgments at the individual and group level.
10-11:30 a.m. CT

Rebuilding America’s Immigration System: The First 100 Days of a Biden Administration Immigration stakeholders, including Rep. Raul Ruiz of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Executive Director Marielena Hincapié of the National Immigration Law Center, will discuss the challenges faced by the new White House and how the vision of “Build Back Better” applies to U.S. immigration policy. Will President Biden's approach differ from President Obama’s? Will he roll back the Trump administration’s restrictive rules and regulations — or will he rely on the courts and Congress to create permanent systemic reform?
10-11:30 a.m. CT

Dark Money in Judicial Elections: Panel I This is the first of a three-part program on media ads funded by special interest groups that influence U.S. judicial selection. Session 1 details the effect of "dark money" on judicial independence. Justice experts discuss the growing problem of outside money used to sway state and federal selection of judges, examined through the lens of recent cases.
10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. CT

Prosecution and Defense of Physicians in Civil and Criminal Opioid Death Cases With the rise in opioid death cases, seasoned attorneys will explain what the government and plaintiff’s counsel must prove against physicians in opioid-related criminal prosecutions and medical malpractice cases, as well as provide comprehensive advice on strategies for the defense of these cases.
Noon-1:30 p.m. CT

Dark Money in Judicial Elections: Panel II—This is the second of a three-part program on media ads funded by special interest groups that influence U.S. judicial selection. In this session, panelists discuss the effect of dark money on public confidence in court impartiality as well as options for judges on disqualification, recusal and combating disinformation efforts by special interests.
1-2:30 p.m. CT

“The First Amendment and Public Sector Employees” When public sector employees speak out through social media and other mediums, they can be disciplined if their speech disrupts the efficient operation of the offices they represent. Experts will explore First Amendment issues in such cases, including how employees can differentiate between speaking as private citizens and as government officials.
2-3 p.m. CT

Military Justice—Learning and Leading Change in American Criminal Justice As the mainstream American criminal justice system grapples with calls for reform, particularly in sexual assault prosecutions, appellate review and protection of the rights of the accused, representatives of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps discuss parallel progressive changes in the military justice arena.
2-3:30 p.m. CT

Dark Money in Judicial Elections: Panel III This is the third of a three-part program on media ads funded by special interest groups that influence U.S. judicial selection. In this last session, panelists offer procedural strategies and innovative approaches to combatting the damaging effect of outside influence, including possible procedural rule changes, disciplinary actions and use of the contempt power against parties attempting to affect judicial outcomes through ad campaigns, among several proposals.
2:45-4:15 p.m.

Know Your Worth. The Audacity to Believe in You! Emmy Award-winning ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts talks about the importance of women in leadership and the keys to advancement, understood through lessons learned from her decades-long career.
4-5:30 p.m. CT

Sunday, Feb. 21

Discussion with Scott TurowABA President Patricia L. Refo and the best-selling author will discuss his latest fictional thriller as well as current legal events.
Noon-1 p.m. CT

NOTE: Midyear Meeting programming is available to news reporters according to the ABA Open Meetings policy. Media credentials include free access to fee-based association events, including the Spirit of Excellence Awards. To attend these virtual programs, contact ABANews@americanbar.org after reporter credentials have been approved by the ABA Media Relations and Strategic Communications Division. For general assistance regarding the Midyear Meeting, contact ABANews@americanbar.org or 202-662-1090.

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