ABA News

ABA to present Life Time Achievement Awards at Joint Spring Meeting April 26

The American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division will honor Frank X. Neuner  and Neal R. Sonnett with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of outstanding solo and small firm practitioners as well as bar leaders and associations. The award will be presented at the Solo and Small Firm Awards Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 26, in the Waterbury Ballroom at the Sheraton New Orleans during the 2018 Joint Spring Meeting.

This award recognizes exceptional lifetime achievement by a solo or small firm practitioner who is widely accepted by his or her peers as having consistently achieved distinction in an exemplary way. The recipients are viewed by other solo and small firm practitioners as epitomizing the ideals of the legal profession and of solo and small firm practitioners.

Neuner Jr. is a founder and managing partner of NeunerPate, a corporate defense firm in Lafayette, La. As immediate past chair of One Acadiana, Neuner led the charge to grow the Acadiana region’s business climate. He served as chairman of the board of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, president of United Way of Acadiana, the Lafayette Bar Association and the Lafayette Bar Foundation. NeunerPate has developed a culture of community service by providing pro bono legal services and was recently awarded the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award.

As president of the Louisiana Client Assistance Foundation since 2001, Neuner oversees reimbursement of funds to clients who lose money due to lawyer misconduct. To date, almost $2.5 million has been paid to claimants. He served as president of the Louisiana State Bar Association during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In 2013, Neuner was invited to present at The World Justice Forum in The Hague, Netherlands, and share his experiences in restoring the legal system after natural disasters. During his six-year tenure as chair of the Louisiana Public Defender Board, he spearheaded the drive for legislation to provide legal protection and access to the law for the indigent.

Neuner received a Juris Doctor in 1976 from Louisiana State University Law School. He is a member of Louisiana, Texas and American Bar Associations; the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel; the Defense Research Institute; the Maritime Law Association of the United States and the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. He is a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and serves as the ABA State Delegate for Louisiana.

Sonnett is a nationally prominent criminal defense lawyer in Miami who defends white collar, corporate and complex criminal cases throughout the United States. Prior to private practice, he served as an assistant United States attorney and chief of the Criminal Division for the Southern District of Florida. He received his J.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1972.

Sonnett has served on the ABA Board of Governors, as chair of the Criminal Justice Section and the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and he has been in the ABA House of Delegates for more than 25 years. He also chaired the ABA task forces on Treatment of Enemy Combatants and on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight Against Terrorism, and he was the first ABA observer in Guantanamo, Cuba. Sonnett also has served as president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Judicature Society, the Florida Bar Foundation, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Dade County Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, South Florida Chapter and the Spellman-Hoeveler American Inn of Court in Miami.

Among many awards, Sonnett has received the highest service or achievement awards from the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, the NACDL and FACDL and the Florida Bar Criminal Law Section. He also received the ADL Jurisprudence Award for his “inspiring leadership in preserving liberty, counteracting bigotry and advancing the cause of human rights” and the Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor, the highest award given to a lawyer by the legal profession in Florida, for his “dedicated service in protecting individual rights precious to our American Constitutional form of government.”

The American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division will also honor Ernest Svenson of St. Louis, Mo., with its 2018 Trainer Award, which recognizes lawyers who have made significant contributions to educating lawyers or law students regarding the opportunities and challenges of a solo and small firm practice.

Svenson worked in a large New Orleans firm for 18 years doing commercial litigation, eventually becoming a partner. He left the firm in 2006 to start a low-overhead, paperless solo practice. Now, through his LawFirmAutopilot.com website, he helps fellow lawyers build their own practices. Svenson is a nationally recognized speaker and author on topics such as paperless lawyering, email efficiency, document automation and online marketing.

Cybercrime, expert witnesses, driverless cars among hot topics at ABA TIPS conference

The American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section will celebrate its 85th year with its TIPS Section Conference, May 2-5, in Los Angeles. The four-day conference will feature panels comprised of some 60 general counsel, insurance company representatives, leading lawyers and judges from across the country.

Program highlights include:

• “Questionable Authorities—What Judges and Lawyers Should Know About Expert Witnesses” — A panel of federal and state judges will engage in interactive hypotheticals about the admission of expert witnesses in civil cases. Learn the top five tips that judges have for lawyers on expert witness selection, preparation and qualification, as well as what judges expect when expert testimony is offered.

• “Cybercrime: Prevention, Insurance and Limiting Losses” — This panel of cybercrime experts will discuss the law, the toll taken by cybercrime, what is being done to prevent and catch cybercriminals and the insurance products available to protect against cyber losses.

• “Emerging Technology, Emerging Risks: The Road Ahead for Autonomous Vehicles” — This panel will address the up-to-the-minute developments of autonomous vehicles, including the most recent technology, federal and state regulatory issues, product liability implications and insurance coverage for “drivers,” other occupants and manufacturers.

• “Class Action Blockbuster: Key Developments in Consumer Class Litigation” — The last two years have seen a flurry of key decisions affecting class action litigation. There have been class action cases applying the Supreme Court’s personal jurisdiction rulings, as well as key decisions affecting the viability of injunctive relief claims, standing and the continued development of Daubert in the class litigation arena. Practitioners and in-house counsel will address these and other developments in this area of litigation.

• “Women Lawyers on Trial Teams: How In-House Counsel are Making a Difference” — This panel of in-house counsel will discuss how companies are ensuring that women have important roles on trial teams. Having in-house counsel insist on women at counsel table is one of the best ways to increase the number of women in the courtroom, while at the same time enhancing advocacy and improving the effectiveness of trial teams.