Critical legal issues explored at ABA meeting

More than 7,600 lawyers and guests are gathering in San Francisco for the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association. 
The master program for the meeting, opening Thursday and concluding next Tuesday, features nearly 1,500 programs on topics ranging from advances in technology and social media to access to justice, finance and business, airport security, immigration reform and environmental concerns. 
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be among national newsmakers participating in the meeting, when she receives the ABA Medal — the highest award the association confers — Aug. 9 during the ABA House of Delegates Meeting in the Moscone Center West.
Five former solicitors general of the United States will convene in one panel 10:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 6 to discuss and debate timely legal developments, in “Shaping the Law:  A Solicitor’s General Roundtable.”
Giving their analyses will be Drew S. Days III, Charles Fried, Gregory Garre, Theodore Olson and Kenneth W. Starr, each of whom represented the United States in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court, and supervised other lawyers representing the U.S. in the positions they took.
The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 was created to study the system of lawyer regulation in the United States in view of technological developments and globalization of legal practice, and — with 20/20 vision — recommend policies to better the public, courts and the legal profession. 
The commission will launch this week’s ABA meeting with a panel of experts detailing ethical challenges for lawyers with virtual law offices and the consequences when clients access their own files through online portals maintained in cyberspace.
 The commission will also convene a public hearing on ethics issues raised when law firms outsource work, to either domestic or foreign service providers. 
Meanwhile, “Legal Issues Resulting from the Social Media Explosion” will explore the civil and criminal issues associated with social media and the blogosphere.
Social media legal experts and professional blogger Heather Armstrong, who ignited a national debate on privacy issues when she was fired for posts on her personal blog, will lead that program.
“Ethical Traps in Cyberspace” will examine the increasing use of social networks, blogs and microblogs used by employers for information about employees and applicants.
The Department of Justice has recently created an Access to Justice Initiative.  Laurence Tribe will address indigent defense, representation for members of the middle class and the poor, and the legal needs of the most vulnerable members of society, in a conversation with Norman Lefstein, professor and dean emeritus of Indiana University School of Law, and Virginia Sloan, president of The Constitution Project.
During another session, “Enforcing a Right to Counsel for Children” will explore the role of lawyers representing children in court proceedings that would remove them from their homes and place them in state custody, and looks to barriers to representation.
“Law Firm Legal Aid:  Where Are We One Year Later?” will assesses the impact of reassigning law firm associates — deferred from their initial placements over the past year as a result of the recession — to do pro bono work for non-profits, government agencies, and domestic and international NGOs.
Other events include:
• The panel, “Regulatory Reset: Consumer Financial Services Regulation under Federal Reform Legislation,” will look at key legal aspects of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, including jurisdiction, funding oversight and enforcement.
• “Financial Services Reform: What You Need to Know Now” examines financial reform legislation with a special focus on systemic risk regulation, impact on bank proprietary trading activities and hedge fund investment and sponsorship, derivatives and securitization provisions and what those provisions mean for banks.
• “Same-Sex Marriage—Moving Beyond State Courts” features lawyers on the front lines of litigation asserting constitutional claims in federal courts.  Among the panelists is former solicitor general Theodore Olson.
 • Panelists of “Liberty and Justice for All?  Impact of Civil Rights on LGBT Rights” will apply the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to challenges facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community today with respect to legal struggles involving employment, benefits, housing, marriage, adoption and more.
• “Debunking the Myth of a Post Racial Society” discusses recent legal and political developments that signal that race and ethnicity remain unresolved issues in our society, including issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, political race baiting and immigration.
• During “Priorities & Perspectives on the Civil Division,” the work and priorities of the Civil Division of the Justice Department will be explored. The division’s approach to critical issues such as the BP oil spill, Guantanamo detainee lawsuits, protecting consumers and taxpayers, and access to justice will be addressed. 
• Panelists for “Citizens United: A Unique Journey through Campaign Finance — Separating the Law from the Rhetoric” will outline the history of Supreme Court jurisprudence leading up to the case and the strategy of each side before the justices. 
• “Immigration Reform: Court Reform and Beyond” addresses the potential for reform of the immigration system — in particular the removal adjudication system — from the perspectives of experts from the courts, government and private practice.
• “Balancing Liberty and Security at the Airport” examines imaging scanners in the context of posing the question of how much intrusion on freedom is required to protect it, and whether less invasive technology can do the job. 
• The panel, “Marijuana Regulation and Federalism:  A Clash of State and Federal Policy,” will look at the conflict between state marijuana control laws and federal statutes.
It will explore the issues of confusion for legislatures, executive branches, the courts, doctors and patients given the lack of standardized enforcement.



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