ABA YLD Takes Bite Out of Big Apple
By Mason Wilson
Mason Wilson is an associate editor of The Affiliate and practices in the Memphis, Tennessee, office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC.
New York , New York, was sweet music to the ears of attendees at this year’s Annual Meeting in Manhattan this August. From Broadway to the Bowery building on 42nd Street, American Bar Association (ABA) members young and old were treated to the very best the ABA Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) and the city had to offer. The meeting concluded a successful 2007–2008 bar year and proved to be the perfect forum for celebrating the ABA YLD’s recent successes while planning great things for the year to come.
The ABA YLD Assembly opened on Friday, August 8, and concluded at noon on Saturday, August 9. Robust debates were held on a wide variety of topics including access to courts for military personnel, amending the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to permit screening within a law firm to allow other lawyers to undertake representations that would be prohibited to another lawyer in the firm because of a conflict of interest from a prior employment, and encouraging government to implement pilot programs that would enable and encourage medical personnel to report hospital events that could threaten patient safety. A number of awards were presented during Assembly, including the Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Awards, Awards of Achievement, the Outstanding Public Service Project Award, Stars of the Year, and Child Advocacy Awards. A hearty congratulations goes to all the award winners.
The Assembly also heard a spirited presentation on election protection from Rachel Patrick of the ABA Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice. Patrick enlivened the crowd with her enthusiastic appeal for young lawyers across the nation to get involved in the Council’s work to ensure that every citizen’s vote is accounted for in the upcoming elections. Not to be outdone, Morten Schwartz Nielsen of the Danish Young Lawyers gave an insightful and eye-opening account of the practice of law in his homeland.
Delegates were treated to comments from a number of distinguished guests, including Jonathan Bing, Assemblyman for the 73rd District in New York and YLD Fellow, Keith B. McLennan, Chair of the Solo & Small Firm Division, Peter Bennett, Chair of the Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Laurel Bellows, Chair of the ABA House of Delegates, H. Thomas Wells, Jr., ABA President for the 2008–2009 bar year, William Neukom, Past-President of the ABA, and Carolyn Lamm, Past Chair of the ABA YLD. All of the speakers emphasized the importance of the ABA YLD’s participation in the ABA as a body and encouraged young lawyers to get involved in committees and projects for the “big bar.”
As part of the Assembly’s annual rite of passage, ABA YLD Chair Justin Goldstein passed the gavel to Chair-Elect Elizabeth Acee, an attorney with LeClairRyan in New Haven, Connecticut, who ascends to the position of Chair for the 2008–2009 bar year. Kelly-Ann Clarke, a lawyer with Greer Herz & Adams in Galveston, Texas, ascended to the position of Chair-Elect, while Assembly Clerk Chauntis Jenkins, a partner at Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson, LLP in New Orleans, Louisiana, became Assembly Speaker. In other uncontested elections, David Wolfe of Skoloff & Wolff in Livingston, New Jersey, was elected Secretary-Treasurer and Ethan Tidmore of Bradley Arant Rose & White, LLP in Birmingham, Alabama, was elected Assembly Clerk.
Always an Annual Meeting highlight, the ABA YLD Fellows Dinner on August 8 was a hit. The world-famous Cipriani Restaurant was a prime location for fine food, great company, and dancing the night away. During the dinner, Helaine M. Barnett, President of the Legal Services Corporation, was recognized for distinguished service to the public and the legal profession.
The meeting, however, was not all about Division business. Attendees were offered a full slate of interesting and informative CLE programs with topics ranging from how judges think to modern American election law. The ABA YLD, together with the Wills For Heroes Foundation, New York County Lawyers Association, New Jersey Bar Association, and Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, also gave young lawyers an opportunity for public service by organizing a Wills For Heroes event on August 9 at Liberty Island. Participants drafted free wills for U.S. Park Police officers.
All told, the perfect weather, great venue, and spectacular programming made the Annual Meeting in New York a rousing success. A special thank you goes to the Host Committee for making this year’s meeting such a great event.