Two American Bar Association former officers are asking the ABA House of Delegates (HOD) to tap them for president-elect nominee, a selection to be announced at the ABA Midyear Meeting in February 2022.
The candidates, Mary Smith of Illinois and Lucian Pera of Tennessee, touted their credentials on Sunday, Aug. 8, before the HOD Nominating Committee at the 2021 ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting. The meeting, which is virtual and in person at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, concludes Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the end of the House of Delegates meeting.
Both served three-year terms as officers of the association. Smith, a lawyer who practiced in firms and served in government, was on the ABA Board of Governors for seven years and ABA secretary from 2017-2020. Pera, a lawyer for 34 years whose practice has included civil litigation, media law and legal ethics and professional responsibility, also served seven years on the board, including three as treasurer. Both also served the association in various other volunteer positions.
The 69-member HOD Nominating Committee will make its recommendation to the full House for a final selection at the 2022 ABA Midyear Meeting, scheduled for February in Seattle.
At the Candidates Forum, Pera spoke first, and outlined the reasons why he would be the best candidate to lead the ABA in three years.
“We will be in the midst of actual changes (by then),” he explained of a legal profession emerging from the pandemic. Coupled with regulatory changes taking place in several states, Pera said the focus should be on the ABA taking the leadership to improve the profession as well as strengthening the rule of law. The association, he continued, needs “to stay alive and grow.”
In her 10-minute remarks, Smith said her varied background, which included work in law firms, the federal government and the White House during the Clinton administration, and as general counsel for the Illinois Department of Insurance, provided her broad experience and insight. “I understand many parts of our profession and I understand their concerns,” she said.
“What distinguishes me is I listen, collaborate and I build coalitions,” she continued, adding she would advocate for lawyers, build a bigger tent at the ABA in terms of backgrounds and law practices, and communicate. “Many lawyers still do not know the value that the ABA brings,” she said.
Two other candidates, both running unopposed, delivered remarks and answered questions at the Candidates Forum as well. Palmer (Gene) Vance II of Kentucky is seeking to be HOD chair from 2022-2024, and Frank Fritz Langrock of Vermont is seeking to be treasurer for the 2023-2026 term.
Additional information, including formal letters-of-intent, on all four candidates can be found here.