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ABA gavel is passed to new president Reginald M. Turner

August 12, 2021

The American Bar Association’s new president sees a bright future for the nation’s largest lawyers’ organization.  

Detroit lawyer Reginald M. Turner assumed the ABA presidency at the conclusion of the 2021 Hybrid Annual Meeting

Detroit lawyer Reginald M. Turner assumed the ABA presidency at the conclusion of the 2021 Hybrid Annual Meeting

American Bar Association photo

“It’s clear to me that the sun is rising on the rule of law in the United States and in free societies throughout the world, and it remains a powerful beacon of hope for those who do not now live as free people,”said Detroit lawyer Reginald M. Turner as he addressed the House of Delegates on Aug. 9.

Turner became president of the ABA when the gavel was passed to him from his predecessor Patricia Lee Refo at the HOD, which was held both virtually and at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to conclude the ABA 2021 Hybrid Annual Meeting.

The partner at Clark Hill, who has a long history of leadership at the ABA, said that the rule of law “is what lawyers and our courts deliver every day,” and it is “what the ABA and bar associations throughout our nation—and the world—are dedicated to promoting.”

Acknowledging that “these are not easy times,” Turner referred to the ABA as a “public trust that must and will endure.”

He called membership the “lifeblood” of the association and said that wherever he speaks he urges that “each one, reach one” to draw in new members.  He asked all ABA members to “make a habit of reaching out and mentoring lawyers and law students by demonstrating how bar association membership makes us better lawyers and fulfilled citizens.”

Calling service a “guiding light” in his life, Turner said he would “model the lessons of service and integrity I learned in my youth.”

He recalled growing up in Detroit as the son of a police officer and library aide, “so I was heavily disciplined and I read a lot.”

After the devastating riots of 1967, his parents “looked for ways to heal the troubled psyches in our family.” They found those ways in Focus Hope, a cultural exchange program that “brought together city and suburban residents to break down racial and economic barriers.”

The Turners were paired with and became close to a suburban Italian-American family, the Latanzios. “That experience, in which I found that our similar family values outweighed our racial and cultural differences, fueled within me a passion for the causes that have been a huge part of my professional work,” he said.

Saying he stood on the shoulders of those who came before him, the new president pledged to do “everything I can to ensure that the sun continues to rise on the rule of law and our great American Bar Association.”

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