ABA Midyear Meeting

Welcome to Las Vegas sign

Photos from Shutterstock.com.

ABA members and other legal professionals are converging on Las Vegas as the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting kicks off. The city might be famous for entertainment, but plenty of business matters also are on the agenda.

The annual event runs from Wednesday, Jan. 23 to Monday, Jan. 28 and includes meetings of the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates. ABA sections, divisions, committees and councils also will host meetings, CLE sessions and panel discussions.

There will be a focus on association business at the midyear meeting, as well as two rare contested races for president-elect and treasurer.

In the contested race for the presidency of the ABA for the 2020-2021 term, Patricia Lee Refo of Phoenix, a past chair of the House of Delegates, is facing G. Nicholas Casey of Charleston, West Virginia, a former ABA treasurer. Kevin Shepherd of Baltimore and Timothy Bouch of Charleston, South Carolina, are the two candidates running for treasurer to serve in the 2020-2023 term.

2019 ABA Midyear Meeting logo

The Nominating Committee will hear from all the candidates for president-elect, treasurer and Board of Governors on Sunday morning, then convene to vote for the final slate of candidates. The candidates will face official election by the House at the ABA Annual Meeting in August, where historically they have been virtually assured of being approved.

The House of Delegates, which is the association’s official policymaking body, will convene Monday to consider a number of resolutions. About 30 already have been proposed, although the final number might change if resolutions are withdrawn, amended or introduced ahead of the final vote.

As the national debate over immigration continues, Resolution 109A calls on the attorney general to rescind the zero tolerance and Operation Streamline policies that mandate prosecution of all individuals who enter the country illegally for a misdemeanor offense, as well as end expedited mass prosecution of immigrants and ensure individualized determinations of whether to file criminal charges. Resolution 116 encourages states and other entities to address causes of displacement and forced migration internationally, to develop policies that discourage criminal prosecution of migrants and refugees, and to protect them from bias and discrimination.

Caesars PalaceNearly all the events will take place at the Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

Resolutions that seek changes in the criminal justice system are Resolution 109B, which urges governments to define criminal arrests, charges and dispositions that are eligible for expungement or removal from public view by sealing; and Resolution 109D, which urges jurisdictions to establish laws that clearly define child torture and make it a felony offense regardless of whether a serious physical injury occurs. Resolution 109C calls on governments to enact legislation and correctional and detention facilities to enact policies that provide all female prisoners with unrestricted access to free toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.

In line with the ABA’s longtime support of greater privacy protection for lawyers and their clients, Resolution 107A urges the federal judiciary, Congress and Department of Homeland Security to enact legislation that protects the privacy of individuals crossing the border by imposing standards for searches and seizures of electronic devices, protection of attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine, and lawyer-client confidentiality.

Resolution 107B broadens a resolution involving mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims passed by the House of Delegates at the 2018 Annual Meeting. This proposal urges legal employers not to require predispute mandatory arbitration of unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

Calling for a change in measuring law school graduate success on the bar exam for purposes of law school accreditation, Resolution 105 asks delegates to approve the council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s plan to amend Standard 316 (bar passage) of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.

A pair of resolutions sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division address issues affecting parents with young children. Resolution 101A encourages legislatures and court systems to establish and maintain lactation areas in courthouses, and Resolution 101B calls for enactment of rules providing that a motion for continuance based on parental leave of primary or secondary attorneys shall be granted if made within a reasonable amount of time.

Caesars Palace lobbyThe lobby of Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

There are fewer programming events planned for this midyear meeting than in previous years, but highlights include the Spirit of Excellence Awards luncheon and a “Tinker at 50: Student Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate and Beyond” program to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous free speech case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. In a nod to the host city of Las Vegas, a CLE panel on “Trafficking in the World of Chance: Human Trafficking in the Casino Industry and Beyond” with moderator Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota will be from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

The Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division (also known as GPSolo) is hosting several CLE events on Friday with business tips for smaller firms and solos, as well as co-sponsoring a new event in its Present and Powerful Speaker Series. Author Marianne Williamson will speak from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on “How American Women Can Change the World.”

Several panels scheduled for Saturday feature topics that attorneys and judges grapple with in today’s climate. The “Better to Be Rich & Guilty? How Implicit Socio-Economic Bias Influences Outcomes Judicial Bias CLE” panel is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and includes Judge Bernice Bouie Donald of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati.

A panel from 9 to 10:30 a.m., “The Rising Tide of Hate: How Welcoming the Stranger in a Nation of Immigrants Has Turned Violent,” includes Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. It will be moderated by Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The full program and additional details can be found on the ABA 2019 Midyear Meeting website.

Follow along with our full coverage of the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting