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Timely issues and hot topics when ABA convenes for 2017 midyear meeting in Miami

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Miami is just 228 miles away from Havana. When the most tropical city on the U.S. mainland hosts the 2017 ABA Midyear Meeting, scheduled for Feb. 1-7, there will be plenty of buzz about the implications of Fidel Castro’s death and Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency on relations between the United States and Cuba—particularly for American business.

The midyear meeting schedule includes two panel presentations on doing business with and in Cuba and another analyzing the impact of the Hispanic vote on November’s election, in which Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president.

“The context is now very different after Fidel Castro’s death,” says Carolina Blanco, who will moderate a Cuba program being sponsored by the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities. “There are a lot of panel discussions about ways to do business in Cuba, but the reality is they’re encountering big obstacles on the Cuba side,” says Blanco, an associate at Hill Ward Henderson in Tampa, Florida, who is a member of the commission. The Cuban government insists on the U.S. economic embargo being lifted entirely, she says, though “it is tempered by their self-interest if a proposal is appealing to them.”

But the midyear meeting also will feature scores of programs on various substantive issues in the law.

Prompted by the refusal of Republicans in Congress to give active consideration to former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the seat on the Supreme Court vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a high-powered panel of experts will discuss the issue. The Feb. 3 program titled “The Presidential Nomination Process and the Steps to Confirmation—a View from Different Perspectives” will also include questions from the audience.

Republicans generally argued that Obama’s lame-duck status negated the need to consider his nominee, while the president and other Democrats maintained that Congress should be obligated to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Follow along with our full coverage of the 2017 ABA Midyear Meeting


On Feb. 6, the ABA’s policymaking House of Delegates will consider a variety of recommendations, including a proposal to accredit a program that would certify a qualified lawyer as a “privacy law specialist.” Another proposal asks the House to approve a model statute adopted by the Uniform Law Commission Committee for online privacy protections for social media presence by employees and students.

A proposal to require that 75 percent of the graduates at a law school accredited by the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar pass a bar examination within two years of graduation likely will be the most controversial issue coming before the House. Accordingly, that particular matter will be considered separately from several other proposals from the section to amend the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, including self-study, and curriculum and admissions.

The legal education section is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accrediting body for law schools in the United States. The House of Delegates may endorse the section’s changes in the accreditation standards or refer them back to the section for further consideration, but the section council has final authority over the standards.

On Feb. 4, two ABA entities will sponsor their annual awards luncheons. The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession will present the Spirit of Excellence Awards, recognizing the efforts of four recipients to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Meanwhile, the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will present its Stonewall Awards to three recipients in recognition of their efforts to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lawyers in the profession or to address legal issues affecting the LGBT community.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: "Hot Topics: Some timely issues will keep things warm in Miami when the ABA convenes for its 2017 midyear meeting."

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