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ABA Delegate's Report Available

ABA Delegate’s Report

 

I am sorry I can’t be with you for the Vermont Bar Association Annual Meeting this year. I am traveling outside of Vermont.

Let me give you a few highlights from the American Bar Association Annual Meeting this summer in San Francisco.

Usually, I think what is most important are the leading resolutions considered by the House. But not this year. This time, the speeches made in the House were the headlines.

The most significant of these was Attorney General Eric Holder’s passionate call for reform of the American Criminal Justice system. He analyzed the serious nature of the problems our criminal justice system in dramatic detail. I thought the solutions he proposed -- mostly in the practices of federal prosecutors -- were far too modest to meet the need for change he illustrated. Still, we must start somewhere. You can see a more description of his speech, and view a video of it, at my blog, OnLawyering.com  http://onlawyering.com/2013/08/attorney-general-holder-addresses-aba-house-of-delegates-urges-fundamental-reform-of-the-criminal-justice-system/

Hillary Clinton also addressed the House in accepting the ABA‘s highest award, the ABA Medal. She urged the ABA to seek congressional action to reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act after last term’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Former ABA President Robert Hirshon moderated an important discussion as part of the House’s series on Issus of Concern to the Profession between Professor Brian Tamanaha of Washington University of St. Louis School of Law and Bryant Garth, former Dean of Southwestern Law School and a leading scholar on the legal profession. Tamanaha and author of “Failing Law Schools,” argued that the statistics regarding law school costs, debt, salaries and job prospects for graduates demonstrate that law schools are failing abjectly to meet the needs of students and society.

Two very significant resolutions were on the House agenda. With little debate, and apparently by a unanimous vote, the delegates adopted a resolution approving the Uniform Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act. The Act carefully defines the two primary forms of human trafficking – sexual servitude and forced labor, imposes substantial criminal penalties for human trafficking, and contains business liability and victim immunity provisions.

A resolution proposed by the King County Bar Association urging the lawyer disciplinary authorities refrain from action against lawyers advising clients about state and territorial laws legalizing the possession and use of marijuana was withdrawn. The sponsor indicated that after efforts to reach accommodations ABA entities that are opposed, the resolution, perhaps in amended form, will be presented to a future House meeting.

 

One event since the ABA Annual Meeting deserves mention. The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education has issued a draft report on proposed reforms to pricing, accrediting and licensing. The 38 page report can be found on the ABA website  at http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/professional_responsibility/taskforcecomments/task_force_on_legaleducation_draft_report_september2013.authcheckdam.pdf   The Task Force is continuing to solicit public comment through October 28.

Richard Cassidy

Vermont Bar Association Delegate

ABA House of Delegates.