ABA Midyear Meeting

Virtual meeting occurring on multiple screens

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ABA members from across the country are convening virtually this week for the 2021 ABA Midyear Meeting.

The annual event, which runs from Wednesday, Feb. 17, through Monday, Feb. 22, offers a full roster of special events, educational programs and networking opportunities. It also includes meetings of the Board of Governors, House of Delegates and other association entities.

The 597-member House of Delegates will consider and vote on about 30 proposed resolutions and amendments during its meeting Monday. The association’s official policymaking body is expected to discuss a number of issues, including judicial security, law student loans and safe and fair elections.

Slate of special events

Attendees can kick off the meeting with a sneak preview of the “Mandela: Struggle for Freedom” exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. (All times are provided in Central Standard Time, to align with the ABA’s Chicago headquarters.) The virtual tour, which includes a live Q&A session, will be recorded and available for viewing the next day.

The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession’s Spirit of Excellence Awards ceremony, honoring Barbara Creel, Roman Hernandez, Sherrilyn Ifill, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and John Yang, begins at 4 p.m. Thursday. The virtual ABA Triva Night follows at 6 p.m.

On Friday, the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice will present the Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service to former section chair C. Elisia Frazier at 4 p.m. At the same time, the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division will host the Present and Powerful Speaker Series, featuring ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts on the topic “Know Your Worth: The Audacity to Believe in You!”

Noteworthy events on Saturday include the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’s presentation of its Stonewall Awards to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Judge Martin Jenkins and Judge Sabrina McKenna, three longtime LGBTQ legal activists. The celebration begins at 5:30 p.m.

At noon on Sunday, ABA President Patricia Lee Refo and bestselling author Scott Turow will meet for a live discussion of his latest thriller, The Last Trial, and other current legal issues.

During Monday’s meeting of the House of Delegates, its Committee on Issues of Concern to the Legal Profession will present “Is There a Case for Structural Reform of the U.S. Supreme Court?” The 12:15 p.m. program will be moderated by Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and explore whether there should be changes to the number of justices or the length of their terms.

In keeping with its all-virtual meeting, the ABA will stream daily wellness activities. The ABA Restore programs will begin at 8 a.m. each day and then be available on-demand. They include body toning, Zumba and yoga.

The Young Lawyers Division is also inviting attendees to focus on wellness. A 15-minute mindfulness meditation will begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and at 11:30 a.m. Friday. Mindful yoga will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2021 ABA Midyear Meeting here.

Chances for CLE

In addition to its many special events and other panel discussions, the ABA Midyear Meeting provides three days of complimentary CLE programming on various legal issues.

“Practice Forward—State of the Art Best Practices for a Profession Impacted by the Pandemic” starts at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and examines the results of an ABA survey that aimed to better understand how attorneys and their workplaces have been affected by COVID-19.

Other programs on Wednesday include “Representing Landlords and Tenants in the COVID Era: Lease Problems, Tips, and Strategies, and Options in Bankruptcy,” a panel at 12:30 p.m. that focuses on successful lease drafting, modification and termination; and “Making Your Place in the Legal Profession as a Young Attorney; and Yoga for the Desk Bound,” a panel at 3:30 p.m. that explores how young attorneys can cultivate personal satisfaction and enrichment in their work.

The “Redistricting: What Every Lawyer Should Know about the Decennial Process of Redrawing Electoral Lines” program at 10:15 a.m. Thursday examines the basics of redistricting and the laws that govern it, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Also on Thursday, the “Workstation Vaccination” panel at noon discusses how to handle COVID-19 in the workplace, including whether employers can require employees to get the vaccine. The “Data & Racial Justice: Using Data to Drive Change” panel, which focuses on four prosecutors’ offices that became pilot sites for the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators dashboard, follows at 1 p.m.

Friday’s CLE programs begin with “The Emotional Influence of Gruesome Photographs in the Courtroom.” The 10 a.m. panel examines how gruesome photographs could limit jurors’ attention to evidence that elicits negative emotions and presents options for preventing prejudicial effects.

“The Prosecution and Defense of Physicians in Civil and Criminal Opioid Death Cases,” which begins at noon, analyzes what the government and plaintiff’s counsel must prove against physicians in opioid death cases involving medical malpractice or criminal prosecution. The panel will also discuss the defense in these cases.

In “Military Justice—Learning and Leading Change in American Criminal Justice,” one of the final programs at 2 p.m., a panel of military justice experts from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps will discuss several progressive policies in the military justice system.

The Judicial Division is sponsoring a three-part ticketed program (it is free for division members) on “dark money” Friday. The first session “Dark Money in Judicial Elections: The Growing Influence of Dark Money in the Judicial Selection Process” starts at 10:15 a.m. and examines the rise in funding media campaigns to influence judicial selection, efforts to combat the influence of outside political ads and the role the bar can play in confronting misinformation about candidates. The other sessions follow at 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.

The 2021 ABA Midyear Meeting is free to all ABA members and nonmembers. The full program and additional details can be found on the 2021 ABA Midyear Meeting website.