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Midyear Meeting

Candidates Make Their Pitches in Three-Way Races for President-Elect, House of Delegates Chair

Posted Feb 13, 2011 4:46 PM CDT
By James Podgers

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The ABA Nominating Committee today confirmed its selection of Laurel G. Bellows to become the association’s president.

The committee’s action was never in doubt because Bellows ran unopposed. She will be introduced as the ABA’s president-elect nominee during Monday’s session of the House of Delegates on the closing day of the 2011 ABA Midyear Meeting in Atlanta. A slate of nominees to serve on the Board of Governors also will be announced tomorrow.

The House will make Bellows’ selection as president-elect official in August during the annual meeting in Toronto.

Bellows, who is managing partner of The Bellows Law Group in Chicago, will serve a year as president-elect starting at the close of the annual meeting, then she will automatically begin her one-year term as president at the close of the 2012 annual meeting in Chicago.

For the Nominating Committee, that was the easy part. Over the next several months, the committee will be considering multiple candidates seeking to fill the ABA’s two highest leadership positions, president and chair of the House of Delegates. The committee will select its nominees for both offices at the 2012 midyear meeting in New Orleans, and the House will make them official at the annual meeting. A candidate’s selection by the Nominating Committee virtually guarantees formal election by the House.

The candidates seeking nomination as president-elect:

Ellen F. Rosenblum, a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals in Salem. She is a past ABA secretary. She is a member of the Standing Committee on Public Education, and she serves on the councils of the Senior Lawyers Division and the Section of State and Local Government Law.

James R. Silkenat, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester in New York City. He is a member of the Commission on Women in the Profession and vice-chair of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. He is a vice-president of the World Justice Project.

Howard H. Vogel, a member of O’Neil, Parker & Williamson in Knoxville, Tenn. He is a current member of the Board of Governors, and he is a past president of both the Tennessee and Knoxville bar associations.

Running to serve a two-year term as chair of the House starting in August 2012:

Robert M. Carlson, a member of Corette Pohlman & Kebe in Butte, Mont. He serves on the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He is a past president of the State Bar of Montana.

C. Elisia Frazier, an attorney in Pooler, Ga. She chairs the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities and is a member of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.

Kay H. Hodge, a partner at Stoneman, Chandler & Miller in Boston. She is past president of the Boston Bar Association, chair-elect of the ABA's Individual Rights Section and a council member for the of Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.

The race for chair of the House could have notable implications for the ABA’s continuing efforts to bring greater diversity to its leadership ranks as well as its general membership. Frazier is an African-American woman, and Hodge is a Japanese-American. No African-American woman or Asian-American has served as either ABA president or chair of the House. Serving as chair of the House also opens a possible path to later seek the ABA presidency, if current patterns continue. Only once between 1978 and 2008 has a chair of the House not gone on to become ABA president.

“We have come to look at the chair of the House as part of a dual track to run for president,” said Robert J. Grey Jr., who chaired the House in 1998-2000, then served as ABA president in 2004-2005. Chairing the House, said Grey, a partner at Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Va., fosters a deeper understanding of ABA structures and policymaking. “And it’s a big stage you’re on,” he noted, "is part of the process of talking about issues in a thoughtful and educated way.”

Grey said all the candidates for chair of the House “show the breadth of diversity that shows the strength of the association.” The candidates are not only diverse in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, but also in as far as region and practice background, he said.

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