ABA News

ABA receives 2016 Grassroots Innovation Award

The American Bar Association was recently awarded the 2016 Grassroots Innovation Award by the Public Affairs Council for its campaign to save the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

The government program, which enables many young ABA members to rid themselves of student loan debt through employment in public service positions, was threatened by budget cuts, but was saved by efforts including the ABA's campaign. The award is given to an association for its creative and effective approach to engaging, empowering and activating their grassroots advocates.

The association's "Save #Loan4giveness" campaign employed several tactics that stand out from its previous grassroots efforts. It targeted its youngest and prospective members exclusively through social media and branding geared toward these constituencies. Additionally, the campaign encouraged law students and young lawyers to share personal stories with their senators using free social media tools, enabling the campaign to be created and operated on a very limited budget of under $1,000.

The ABA Governmental Affairs Office led by director of grassroots operations Jared Hess, along with significant contributions from the ABA Law Student and Young Lawyers Divisions, identified young lawyers and law students who would be affected by potential changes to the PSLF program and facilitated the sharing of their stories and the serious impact a cut in the program would have on them through technology and social media.

Although the campaign's primary goal of saving the loan forgiveness program from being capped or eliminated altogether has been achieved, the association stands ready to reactivate its grassroots efforts should other threats arise.

Mayerson to receive Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights

Arlene B. Mayerson, directing attorney at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), will receive the American Bar Association's Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights. The ABA Commission on Disability Rights selected Mayerson for her commitment and service as a disability rights advocate.

Created in 1999, the award honors the work of Paul G. Hearne, a lawyer with congenital connective tissue disorder who became a leader in the disability rights movement. The award, co-sponsored by Starbucks Coffee Co., will be presented at the commission's Reception for Lawyers with Disabilities during the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The reception, sponsored by Microsoft and Wal-Mart, will take place Monday, Aug.8, from 6 to 8 p.m at the Moscone Center West, Room 3014, 3rd Floor.

One of the nation's leading experts in disability rights, Mayerson has been a key advisor to Congress and the disability community on major disability rights legislation, including the Handicapped Children's Protection Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the debate on the ADA, Mayerson provided expert testimony before several Congressional committees. She filed comments on behalf of more than 500 disability rights organizations on the ADA regulations. She also provided input on ensuring the special education rights of students with disabilities.

Devoting her career exclusively to disability rights practice, Mayerson has represented clients on a wide array of issues. She has provided representation, consultation to counsel, and coordination of amicus briefs on pivotal disability rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Civil Rights Reviewing Authority, which is responsible for reviewing the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights decisions.

Since 1981, Mayerson has been the directing attorney of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. She is also a John and Elizabeth Bolt Lecturer on disability law at the University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, from which she earned her J.D. Mayerson has published many articles on disability rights and authored a comprehensive three-volume treatise, The ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act Annotated-Legislative History, Regulations & Commentary (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1994), which sets out the legislative history and regulations for each provision of the ADA.

ABA urges U.S. Supreme Court to review Virginia's death penalty post-conviction process

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief Thursday, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a death penalty case that questions the process used in Virginia's post-conviction proceedings.

At issue is whether in a post-conviction review a federal court's assessment of the reasonableness of a state court's decision must consider the manner in which the facts are determined, or whether the state court's manner of determining the facts is irrelevant. In the appeal to the high court by a Virginia man, a state court, without an evidentiary hearing, dismissed allegations that the death sentence was imposed in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld that decision.

In its brief, the ABA urged the high court to grant certiorari in the case because it "presents an ideal opportunity for the court to address an important, recurring question of federal law: What are the minimum post-conviction procedures that a state must follow when adjudicating claims that a death-sentenced prisoner's constitutional rights have been violated." The ABA brief questions whether a "state court fact-finding process that does not provide the type of adversarial process historically thought essential to the truth-finding function of a court is adequate for reaching reasonably correct results and for the ascertainment of truth." Also, the brief said the case presents an opportunity for the high court to determine whether a federal court on collateral review can defer to the state court's factual determination even though an evidentiary hearing was not held.

"As part of a comprehensive review of death-penalty procedures in multiple states, an ABA expert assessment team confirmed that Virginia's post-conviction procedures are inadequate to present and develop claims of constitutional error," the ABA brief said, referring to the assessment of the Virginia death penalty process, one of a dozen completed since 2006 through the ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project. "The system prioritizes finality and expediency at grave costs."

In its brief, the ABA notes the association takes no position on the constitutionality of the death penalty.

New Hampshire lawyer to receive ABA's Samuel S. Smith Award

The American Bar Association Law Practice Division will honor Bedford, N.H., lawyer Arthur G. Greene with its 2016 Samuel S. Smith Award for excellence in law practice.

The award, the highest honor bestowed by the ABA Law Practice Division, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of law practice management. It will be presented on Friday, Aug. 5, during a reception at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Hotel Intercontinental.

"No one person has heralded the cause of promoting the financial health of lawyers more so than Arthur G. Greene," said Tom Bolt, chair of the Law Practice Division. "The ABA Law Practice Division is honored to present its highest award, the 2016 Samuel S. Smith Award for law practice excellence, to Arthur G. Greene."

Greene established Arthur G. Greene Consulting LLC in Bedford, N.H., which specializes in providing personalized consulting services to small- and mid-sized law firms to help clients maximize the firm's potential and achieve long-range goals.

He received a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in 1964 and a law degree from Boston University in 1967. Greene is a longstanding member of the American Bar Association and has served in many capacities throughout the Law Practice Division, including chair of the division (1999 2000), director of finance (2000-2006), member of the Future of Law Practice Task Force and liaison to the ABA Commission on the Billable Hour. He is also past chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistants. Most recently, Greene has been an active advocate for one of the four core areas of the division finance, having authored several books, magazine articles and other publications on the subject of law firm finance.

Greene began his career with the law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton in 1967 and became a partner in 1974. He later established and managed his own statewide trial practice in New Hampshire that grew from 13 lawyers to 77 lawyers in four statewide offices. He has lectured, conducted workshops and authored articles and books on a variety of law firm issues, including "Trends in the Profession," "Evaluating Solutions to Financial Challenges" and "Preparing Your Firm for the Future." Greene is past chair of the New Hampshire Bar Association's Law Practice Management Section and a past member of the Bar's Future of Law Practice Task Force. He has served on the advisory board of the Legal Assistant Management Association; is a past committee member of the Conference Committee of the Association of Legal Administrators and is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management.

Published: Tue, Jun 28, 2016