5 ABA projects that got off the ground in 2022
Each year, ABA members and staff lead a multitude of projects and initiatives that serve their colleagues and communities as well as improve the legal profession. The ABA Journal regularly covers these efforts, which range in scope, subject area and location, and the leaders at the helm.
Here are five ABA endeavors we featured in 2022:
Civil Rights Civics Institute
Beth Whittenbury was chair of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice when she created the Civil Rights Civics Institute, an initiative that allows students to ask questions about civil rights and receive responses from lawyers. She especially wanted to reach youth from underserved communities who might be inspired by the conversations and decide to later join the legal profession.
She asked ABA members and groups as well as the association’s local bar association affiliates to encourage teachers to request questions from students. By early January, the CRCI had received 170 questions, which Whittenbury helped assign to the section’s committees and Task Force on Fair Elections and Voting Rights.
Their members volunteered to provide video or written responses to questions, such as “What are my rights if I get pulled over?” The responses are published on the CRCI webpage.
“It has the potential to do a lot of good, not just for the nation but for the ABA,” says Whittenbury, the principal at Beth K. Whittenbury & Associates in Palos Verdes Estates, California. “We really are at the forefront of trying to support and increase the rule of law in America and make sure everyone understands what that means and how that works.”
ABAJournal.com: “New ABA initiative needs volunteers to answer students’ civil rights questions”
Open source antitrust casebook
Jonathan Gleklen proposed that the Antitrust Law Section develop an open source antitrust casebook for law school students.
“Antitrust lawyers spend their time thinking about barriers to entry, competition and prices,” says Gleklen, a partner in Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s Washington, D.C., office, who was then chair of the section. “If we want to lower the barriers to becoming an antitrust lawyer and diversify our profession, an antitrust lawyer knows that a good way to do it is to lower the cost of entry.”
Traditional antitrust casebooks cost as much as $300, which could discourage some law students from exploring this practice area. Open source casebooks, on the other hand, are available online and can be downloaded for free or printed on demand for a significantly lower price.
Christopher Sprigman, a professor at New York University School of Law, and Daniel Francis, then a Climenko fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, teamed up to co-author the new casebook.
ABAJournal.com: “ABA’s Antitrust Law Section hopes to attract more students to practice with free casebook”
Diverse Lawyers Trial Academy
Beth Kaufman helped create the Section of Litigation’s Diverse Lawyers Trial Academy, a two-day intensive training program that connects lawyers who have been historically underrepresented in civil proceedings with a faculty of experienced trial lawyers, in-house counsel, judges and trial consultants.
Kaufman, who describes the inaugural Diverse Lawyers Trial Academy at Suffolk University Law School in November as “unbelievably successful,” says its attendees were mostly women and included a mid-level associate, young partners and one lawyer who had practiced for more than 20 years.
“That shows that there is this hunger for this type of training among people, even if they have been successful and advanced to being partners in law firms,” says Kaufman, a partner in Schoeman Updike Kaufman & Gerber’s New York City office and then chair of the Litigation Section. “I think that for the most part, they had participated in a trial at least in some manner, but never as first-chair trial lawyers.”
The section held another Diverse Lawyers Trial Academy at the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law in April.
ABAJournal.com: “Diverse Lawyers Trial Academy hosts 2-day training for 1st-chair roles, and applications are open”
ABA Task Force on Environmental Justice
The Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Environmental Justice Task Force led efforts to review the ABA’s policy on environmental justice. It put forward a new resolution in 2021 that called on the association to advance environmental justice principles and considerations; and to work with governments to establish laws and other measures “that reflect the right of every human being to dignity and a clean and healthy environment.”
SEER also helped create an ABA-wide task force to assist with implementation of the new policy. Then-ABA President Reginald Turner appointed 13 members to the ABA Task Force on Environmental Justice, which includes representatives from SEER, CRSJ, the Center for Human Rights and Business Law Section.
Gwen Keyes Fleming, a partner in DLA Piper’s Washington, D.C., office, who was formerly chief of staff to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Quentin Pair, who served as a senior trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section until he retired in 2015, are co-chairs.
The task force began meeting in the spring and is preparing a report that examines the ABA’s work around environmental justice. Its other goals include studying federal, state and local proposals involving environmental justice and working with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and other government entities.
ABA Journal: “A Fresh Approach: ABA steps up efforts to advance environmental justice”
Afghanistan Response Project
After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021, the ABA established the Afghanistan Response Project to assist with the growing humanitarian crisis. This year, the association’s members, staff and partners have worked to help judges, lawyers and others from Afghanistan resettle, obtain immigration benefits and prepare for jobs that will use their legal skills.
David Dettman—the outreach and communications director for the Center for Global Programs and coordinator of the Afghanistan Response Project—told the ABA Journal in November that one of the biggest challenges is that the crisis receives less attention even though many Afghans remain stuck in third countries or in hiding in Afghanistan.
Dettman also said the Afghanistan Response Project and its three threads of work are an amazing example of what the ABA and its members can do.
“Helping Afghans seeking refuge abroad, providing immigration assistance to those who need it here and assisting legal professionals who have settled find meaningful work, are, in my opinion, the ABA at its best,” he says. “While working on a project like this can be very frustrating, the courage and determination we see in Afghan evacuees and the selflessness from pro bono attorneys and others remains an inspiration to me.”
ABAJournal.com: “ABA helps find permanent homes for Afghan evacuees stuck in Abu Dhabi, other parts of the world”
ABAJournal.com: “Advocates are helping Afghans apply for asylum and other immigration relief with ABA assistance”
ABAJournal.com: “ABA project aims to help Afghan legal professionals establish themselves in the United States”
Interested in learning about even more ABA ventures? Here are additional 2022 highlights from the ABA Journal.
ABAJournal.com: “ABA launches nationwide pro bono campaign to help families facing deportation”
ABAJournal.com: “Immigration court system needs independence from the DOJ, ABA representative says at congressional hearing”
ABAJournal.com: “Should the UN establish a right to a healthy environment? ABA urges US to vote yes”
ABAJournal.com: “ABA supports several of the Biden administration’s proposed nursing home reforms”
ABAJournal.com: “ABA project seeks more pro bono attorneys in wake of Supreme Court death penalty decision”
ABAJournal.com: “Attorneys advocate for cancer patients and their caregivers through longtime ABA project”
ABAJournal.com: “Meet the two Texas attorneys behind the Children’s Immigration Law Academy”
ABA Journal.com: “ABA Free Legal Answers hits major milestone of 250K questions”