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February 05, 2024

ABA nominates next HOD chair, hears pitches from other officer candidates

The American Bar Association House of Delegates nominated Jonathan Cole of Tennessee on Feb. 5 as the chair-elect of the 597-member policymaking body for a two-year term that begins after the Annual Meeting this August.

Cole, who has served as chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services and the ABA Young Lawyers Division, is a shareholder in the Nashville office of Baker Donelson. The HOD 69-member nominating committee endorsed Cole over William D. Johnson of Delaware.

At a candidates’ forum on Sunday, Feb. 4, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, the nominating committee heard pitches from two other office candidates who are running unopposed for office.

Former HOD Chair Barbara Howard, who heads a small family law and estate planning firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, explained why she wants to be president-elect nominee for the association next year. She would be president-elect for the 2025-26 term.

She said the ABA “needs to be nimble” in budgetary and other matters given that the association has annually tapped several million dollars in reserves to balance the budget in recent years. “We are no longer at the point where we can cut away (costs) to a balanced budget,” she said. “We need to use our dollars wisely.”

Andrew Schpak, who is running unopposed for the treasurer-elect position, is co-managing partner at Barran Liebman LLP in Portland, Oregon. He echoed Howard’s concerns about budget issues and said he would be “laser-focused on what is in the best interests of this association.”

“Just because we have always done things a certain way doesn’t mean we should do things that way forever,” he said.

The HOD Nominating Committee will consider both candidacies in February at Midyear Meeting 2025.