Opportunities Abound in Windy City During ABA YLD Annual Meeting
By Justin L. Heather
Justin L. Heather is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and a litigation associate with the Chicago office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Over 550 young lawyers descended on the Windy City for the ABA Young Lawyers Division Annual Meeting on July 30 through August 1. A mix of business and pleasure, the ABA YLD Annual Meeting provided attendees an opportunity to conduct the business of the Division, attend excellent CLE programming, and network with fellow lawyers.
The ABA YLD Council Meeting kicked off the business of the Division on Thursday. In addition to receiving reports from various officers and directors, the Council addressed several important business matters. Outgoing Chair Lizz Acee provided the Council with the “Chair Report,” which highlighted, among others, the strides made by the ABA YLD in fighting domestic violence, successful membership initiatives, distance learning efforts, and the ABA YLD’s attention to recession recovery. The Council also discussed the ABA YLD’s position on social networking within the ABA’s parameters and how affiliates are handling the current economic downturn.
To prove that young lawyers are not just about business, more than 250 young lawyers, law students, and other ABA members attended the “Welcome Reception” on Thursday night at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub and sponsored by the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) and Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney. Attendees spent several hours socializing and networking with friends, both new and old. Following the “Welcome Reception,” more than 200 people enjoyed an evening at The Underground, one of the hottest clubs in Chicago.
Friday afternoon marked the beginning of the ABA YLD Assembly, with over 190 delegates from approximately thirty-eight states and two national affiliates in attendance. In addition to introducing the candidates for uncontested ABA YLD offices, Chair Lizz Acee awarded her “Stars of the Year” and the ABA YLD recognized five members of the armed services with the Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Awards, with special remarks from Rear Admiral James Houck, U.S.N. Their stories of honor, valor, perseverance, and dedication were truly awe inspiring. Speaker Chauntis Jenkins thanked these brave men and women for their service to our country and the profession.
The Friday afternoon Assembly session also included lively debate on two resolutions. First, Resolution 103 sought to adopt the ABA Model Act Governing the Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect and Dependency Proceedings regarding the role of attorneys appointed to represent children. After a lively and emotional debate, the Assembly voted to oppose any resolution seeking adoption of an “express wishes of the child” standard. Currently, about forty states apply a “best interests of the child” standard. Second, the Assembly passed Resolution 113 supporting legislation, policies, and practices that preserve the categorical approach used to determine the immigration consequences of past criminal convictions.
On Friday evening, many ABA YLDers and other ABA members attended the ABA YLD Fellows Annual Gala—“Celebrating 75 Years of Public Service and Education” at Chicago’s world-renowned Field Museum. There, attendees enjoyed socializing with colleagues from around the country and were treated to a video history of the ABA YLD produced by Past Chair Jay Ray. After a wonderful night of dinner and dancing, approximately 100 ABA YLD members and guests continued to network with a nightcap at the House of Blues Foundation Room.
The ABA YLD got back to work Saturday morning with the closing session of the Assembly. Jaye Rancourt presented the Awards of Achievement, which recognize the outstanding work done by ABA YLD affiliates in service to the public and the bar. The ABA YLD also presented its Child Advocacy Awards. The Assembly debated and passed Resolution 112 urging Congress to repeal 1 U.S.C. § 7, which denies federal marital benefits and protections to lawfully married same-sex spouses.
The Assembly also welcomed several honored guests for presentations regarding past and future work of the ABA, including ABA President H. Thomas Wells, Jr.; ABA President-Elect Carolyn B. Lamm; ABA President Nominee for 2010 Steven N. Zack; and Chair of the 2009 ABA Day, Laurel Bellows. As is tradition, the Assembly concluded with the Passing of the Gavel as Chair Lizz K. Acee passed the reins of the ABA YLD to incoming Chair Kelly-Ann Clarke, overseen by numerous past ABA YLD Chairs. Always an emotional moment, attendees heard stories of past successes and hopes for future achievements through the ABA YLD’s member and public service projects.
Finally, on Saturday evening, ABA YLD members and law students convened for one last hurrah at Jefferson Tap & Grill, as friends and colleagues wound down the Annual Meeting with a relaxing evening of networking and socializing. This year’s ABA YLD Annual Meeting was once again a resounding success as the ABA YLD looks forward to another year of making a difference for the bar and the public.