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ABA president-elect nominee champions a mindset of 'continuous improvement'

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Photograph by the Canadian Press Images/Michael Desjardins.

As structural changes are being proposed at the ABA, the nominees for leadership positions will be called upon to prepare the association to meet the challenges of a changing legal market and the needs of 21st-century lawyers and clients.

For Judy Perry Martinez, the president-elect nominee, this is not a new addition to her portfolio. As chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Martinez spent two years with the group’s members studying the legal needs of communities; the changes to the traditional methods of practicing law that could be made to meet them; and the ways in which innovations and new technologies could be used to advance the profession. The commission’s work, initiated by former ABA President William C. Hubbard and completed in August 2016, led to the creation of the ABA Center for Innovation; Martinez acts as special adviser to the group.

“There’s a lot of very innovative thinking by staff and volunteer leaders alike going on right now with regard to how we can deliver more efficiently, effectively and competently both the services that the association delivers to its members and the services ABA members deliver to the public,” says Martinez, of counsel with Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans. “We should always be in a mode of continuous improvement.”

This philosophy of continuous improvement was reinforced for Martinez during the 12 years she spent at Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company. She retired as vice president and chief compliance officer in 2015 and rejoined Simon Peragine, where she’d spent the beginning of her career.

“The notion of ‘This is how we’ve done it, but that doesn’t mean that this is how we have to continue to do it’ is one that I think is with me every day because of my years inside a corporation of the caliber of Northrop Grumman,” Martinez says.

Martinez, who was nominated without opposition at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, will face a vote by the House of Delegates at the 2018 annual meeting in Chicago this August, after which she would become the president-elect. Robert M. Carlson, now serving as president-elect, will automatically assume his one-year term as president at the close of the annual meeting, then pass the gavel to Martinez after the 2019 San Francisco annual.

The close of the 2018 annual meeting will also mark the end of Deborah Enix-Ross’ two-year term as chair of the House. The nominee to assume her position is William R. Bay, a partner with Thompson Coburn in St. Louis. Bay completed a three-year term on the Board of Governors in 2017.

He served on the Finance Committee for two of those years, acting as chair from 2015 to 2016. He was also 2012-2013 chair of the Section of Litigation. His term as chair of the House would continue through 2020.

There are 13 new nominees to replace open seats on the 44-member Board of Governors. Their nominations were also approved at the midyear meeting in February and will also be voted on by the House in August. They will serve three-year terms. Once the Nominating Committee has made its selections for president-elect, chair of the House and the Board, the nominees are virtually assured of being elected.


Judy Perry Martinez


Of counsel with Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans. Served as chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services (2014-2016) and is special adviser to the ABA Center for Innovation. Chaired the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary from 2011 to 2012. Past member of the House of Delegates. Sat on the Board of Governors from 1996 to 1999. Past chair of the Young Lawyers Division and the Commission on Domestic Violence. Past member of the Commission on Women in the Profession; Task Force on Attorney Client Privilege; Task Force on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System; the council of the ABA Center on Diversity; and the ABA’s World Justice Project Committee. Former lead ABA representative to the United Nations. Member of the board of directors for the American Bar Foundation. Received JD in 1982 from Tulane University Law School.

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Print and initial online versions of "A View Toward the Future," May, should have stated that Judy Perry Martinez chaired the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary from 2011 to 2012.

The Journal regrets the error.

This article was published in the May 2018 issue of the ABA Journal with the title "A View Toward the Future: ABA president-elect nominee champions a mindset of ‘continuous improvement".

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