ABA Journal

Latest Features

Judicial portraits and Confederate monuments stir debate on bias in the justice system

“It is my goal—and my duty as a judge—to provide a trial setting that is perceived by all participants as fair, neutral and without so much as a hint of prejudice,” Judge Martin Clark wrote in a 2015 order. “Confederate symbols are, simply put, offensive to African Americans.”



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

How pandemic practice left lawyer-moms facing burnout

As the world ground to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic and parents scrambled for solutions, an uncomfortable truth emerged: Women are America’s default social safety net. It’s a regressive construct that has entrapped and hobbled working mothers across the spectrum—including lawyer-moms. The pandemic simply tightened the screws.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

LA district attorney's past drives his push forward for reform

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón knows how to cope with controversy. He faced it as police chief in Mesa, Arizona. And as San Francisco’s top prosecutor, he riled law enforcement groups after pushing for a host of reforms. Even so, more than seven months into Gascón’s new job as LA’s top prosecutor, resistance to his policies has reached dizzying peaks.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Will the Supreme Court reconsider a landmark defamation case?

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch both called New York Times v. Sullivan into question in dissents from a cert denial earlier this month.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Lawyers' group helps ease path to citizenship for low-income New Yorkers with interest-free loans

This year, Ana Mclean paid the naturalization application filing fee of $640 and the additional $85 for biometric services using a loan from the Citizenship Loan Program. The initiative offers interest-free loans to permanent residents who live in one of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester or Long Island.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

How one law firm plans to embrace remote work—even after reopening its offices

Even with the firm having announced an official reopening date of Sept. 9 for its five offices across California and Washington, Klinedinst’s leaders do not expect to see a flood of colleagues returning to the workplace.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

What can bar applicants learn from the October 2020 exam?

For the 30 jurisdictions offering a remote bar exam in a few weeks, there are hopes the technology has improved since last year’s administrations, when candidates reported issues with facial authentication technology, software crashes and problems uploading videos. However, those who work in academic support advise July 2021 candidates to develop a worst-case scenario plan.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Supreme Court takes a byte out of computer crime law

A U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down earlier this month has flown a bit below radar compared with the term’s bigger cases, but it is one that might be of interest to anyone who has ever bent the truth on a dating website or on social media, shopped or checked sports scores on a work computer, or happens to be a fan of the 1983 movie WarGames.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Biden reverses course on Trump’s immigration policies—but will high-skilled workers return?

President Joe Biden has made clear that he wishes to make it easier for immigrants to live and work in the U.S.—and he’s connecting this to America’s ability to succeed.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Don’t call him 'sir': Law prof reflects on receiving honorary knight award from the UK

Philip Bobbitt, a Columbia Law School professor, is not sure when the ceremonies will take place in recognition of him being awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II. At the moment, most of his time is taken up looking after his four young children, and they have different titles for him.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Longtime leader in legal ethics and professional responsibility will receive ABA Medal

Through a legal career that spans more than five decades, Lawrence Fox has become nationally recognized for his leadership in professional responsibility and legal ethics and his commitment to pro bono work.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Law student sues school over COVID-19 vaccine and pandemic-related protocols

As universities set policies regarding coronavirus vaccines and in-person attendance, a New England Law Boston student has filed a federal court claim against the school, alleging the institution required him to wear a mask on campus, comply with social distancing policies and submit proof of receiving the vaccine



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Law school overenrollment: A 172 LSAT score may not be what it used to be, according to some

Thanks to an increase in law school applicants coupled with rising Law School Admission Test scores, getting admitted from the waitlist is much less likely this year, and in some cases, there are incentives for incoming 1Ls to defer until 2022.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Meet Mary Ryan, the newest member of the ABA's Board of Governors

Mary Ryan never aspired to be on the ABA’s Board of Governors, despite serving in other leadership roles in the association throughout her career. But after Kevin Curtin, the senior appellate counsel in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, died suddenly in December, someone needed to step in as the board’s District 2 representative.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Making brown-bag meals for the needy helped this law student stay busy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

Assembling sandwiches helped recent law school graduate Jacqueline Ingles focus during remote classes, and over the past year she made more than a thousand of them for the Chicago Help Initiative, a nonprofit group that takes food to pantries and free meal sites.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Negotiating the trauma of working with prisoners, pro bono and after hours

How do attorneys remain committed to work that affords few successes and often few forms of traditional validation, including commensurate compensation? Public interest lawyer Taeva Shefler spoke with lawyer Mallika Kaur and recent law school graduate Melissa Barbee about her volunteer work with prisoners’ rights and the lessons learned.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Challenging COVID-19 restrictions can boost business, but beware of political consequences

Public mandated restrictions to stop or slow the transmission of the disease, including mask mandates, limitations on public gatherings and business closures, have become a divisive political issue. Several Republican and right-leaning lawyers have filed lawsuits challenging these public health measures, leading to some successes in court along with both encouragement and negativity from the public.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

More police departments are training officers in de-escalation techniques, but does it work?

Could police have avoided killing—whether the victims were armed or not? Advocates of de-escalation believe that many such deaths can be prevented. Yet what de-escalation means and how effective it is remain subject to debate.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Do varying legal definitions of race leave room for abuse?

The federal government does not have precise legal definitions of what it means to be a member of a particular race. And with no centralized federal guidance, federal and state agencies have pieced together definitions, applying them in disparate settings. In recent years, these inconsistent definitions have been criticized for allowing undeserving people to fit themselves into racial categories to benefit from contracts, jobs or university admissions slots intended for racial or ethnic minorities.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

California often leads the way in passing environmental and consumer protection laws

A slew of measures passed in California in recent years in hopes of expanding consumer or environmental protections further afield. Whether it’s product ingredients or data privacy or pollution prevention, California is frequently where such laws start.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Former inmates are battling legal barriers to work as firefighters

Like their civilian counterparts, inmate fire crew members help protect people’s lives and property, and when they are released, some try to find employment in the fire service. For many, though, full-time jobs can be hard to come by.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

How one lawyer is trying to solve a John Wayne Gacy murder mystery

Steven Becker wasn’t sure what he’d see at his first exhumation. But here he was, on Sept. 5, 2012, at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois, on behalf of his client, who insisted that the body in the coffin was not—despite what police said—her son.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

As lawyer stress escalates during pandemic, LAP agencies see significant increase in calls

Mental health workers say lawyers are more anxious, stressed, depressed and burned out than ever, which was already a lot. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, may have lessened the stigma around attorneys seeking mental health services.



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.

Brice Ngameni helps support prospective law students of African descent

“We think that one of the biggest challenges that people from our background face when applying to law school is access and information, and these are things that can be addressed,” says Brice Ngameni, president and co-founder of Pembe, a mentoring group for people of African descent. “If you just have the right people matched up with the right folks, you can easily make up for that disparity.”



  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Print.