Executive Director's Lessons

Flight Lessons

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In the richly textured world of law, the air and space field allows practitioners to range from the finer points of air travel to the legal issues of property rights in space. Within the ABA, the Forum on Air & Space Law is home to more than 1,500 members, who come together to share, network, and learn about new and emerging issues in aviation and space law.

Chaired this year by David A. Berg of Washington, D.C., the forum was created in August 1982 to focus on the legal, regulatory and policy issues that affect the air transportation and commercial space industries.

Primarily composed of aviation and space lawyers from both the public and private sectors, the forum’s members represent airlines, aerospace manufacturers and service providers, travel distribution companies, travel agencies, tour operators, airports, the financial and insurance communities, and business and general aviation interests. Many forum members also represent government agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The forum offers its members many excellent benefits, including outstanding conferences, continuing legal education, networking opportunities with experts in the field, an insightful law journal and numerous opportunities for involvement in all forum activities. The forum also sponsors educational programs, works to strengthen liaisons with other bar and industry groups, and continues to focus on expanding membership–particularly of associates, minorities, women and law students.

The forum’s Air & Space Lawyer, a substantive law journal with a conventional newsletter appearance, provides valuable up-to-date, carefully researched commentary on current issues in aviation and space law. The most recent issue (winter 2005) includes articles on dealing with airport congestion; trends in insurance for light general aviation aircraft; air carrier advertising and unfair or deceptive practices; restructuring aircraft fleets under section 1110 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code; and a position statement by the forum’s working group on relaxing restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines. The newsletter feature of the publication allows the chair to regularly encourage readers to become fully involved in the forum’s activities by inviting members to write articles for the journal, serve as moderators or panelists at forum conferences, host brown-bag lunches, or help to expand membership or develop the Web site.

Top-Notch Conferences and Meetings

The forum holds a one-day legislative and regulatory update conference each year in the spring, and an annual meeting and conference in the fall. The high quality of these gatherings, with their educational programs and workshops, is widely acknowledged by practitioners. To reflect the nature of the radically changing aviation industry in these times, the forum’s 2005 spring conference, held in March in Washington, D.C., was titled “Turbulence in the Air: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Moderators and presenters, including lawyers, airline executives and government decision-makers, addressed a wide variety of domestic and international issues. The subjects covered included a 2005 aviation legislative update; global airline alliances; consolidation and antitrust issues; prospects for U.S.-European Union open skies agreements; developments in airline restructuring/bankruptcy and tort/product liability; airline and airport security issues; and aviation’s new frontiers, with discussions of new modes of air travel, the evolution of fractional programs and developments in space law. As always, the conference included a panel discussion on ethics and provided CLE credit to participants.

This year’s annual meeting and conference will take place in Montreal from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. As an added benefit, attendees at the spring or fall conferences receive the lower member’s tuition fee if they join the forum at the time they register.

Through the workshops and plenary sessions, as well as the various social events, forum members will have the opportunity both to learn and socialize with aviation and aerospace friends and colleagues. There will be lively discussion and networking with leading aviation lawyers and policy-makers from around the world. Top industry lawyers, journalists, analysts, executives and decision-makers will address cutting-edge issues reshaping aviation in a time of unprecedented change.

For additional information about the Forum on Air & Space Law, contact the group’s excellent manager, Dawn Holiday, at 312-988-5660 or via e-mail at [email protected] staff.abanet.org.

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