Annual Meeting

ABA Annual Meeting to feature Chief Justice Roberts, Magna Carta exhibit and new scheduling format

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As the ABA gathers this week for the Annual Meeting in Boston, one event and one idea likely will get the most buzz: Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s speech launching the association’s yearlong, 800th-anniversary commemoration of Magna Carta; and a sweeping new scheduling format with flexible fees for events and programs that is expected to foster a greater sense of community to the thousands of lawyers and others in attendance.

Justice Roberts, in his address to the ABA House of Delegates on Monday at 11 a.m., will talk about the historical and current significance of Magna Carta, the document sealed by King John of England in 1215 in response to demands by landowning barons. The king agreed to the supremacy of law in limiting his powers, a bedrock moment in developing the rule of law.

A traveling exhibit curated by the Law Library of Congress, “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015,” will be unveiled at the annual meeting and then move to various cities around the country, as well as at the ABA London Sessions next June in England. In November, the Library of Congress will host one of four existing 1215 exemplifications of the document itself.

The structure of the multiday meeting will be an unveiling of the association’s new Magnitude360 format, which puts key CLE and other professional development presentations closer together, beginning late Friday and running through Sunday. It is expected to lessen conflicts with other programs by sections, divisions etc., and free those entities up for their own governance matters during Magnitude360 scheduling periods. The entirety of Magnitude360’s programs and events can be had for a single fee, or singles or more of them through a la carte pricing.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will give the keynote address at the ABA Assembly at 4 p.m. Saturday and award the ABA Medal to retired Gen. Earl E. Anderson, 95, who joined the association in 1950 while in law school (and an active-duty Marine) at age 31.

Dozens of programs over the several days of meetings will present issues ranging from immigration/deportation to dealing with disruption in the legal services market to stand-your-ground laws to Guantanamo; and from help for low-tech lawyers to how lawyers can do some of their own computer coding.

The policymaking House of Delegates on Monday and Tuesday will consider a variety of proposed resolutions, including:

• Campaign-finance changes to judicial elections, with a call for transparent and timely procedures for a judge’s disqualification or removal from a case when there is a serious risk of actual bias, as well as the availability of immediate, independent review of the decision.

• The development of veterans’ legal clinics in law schools.

• Rules to permit non-locally licensed in-house lawyers to work pro bono in their communities when supervised by others who are admitted.

• And, in states with capital punishment, a call to enact laws or other ways to permit successors of those who might have been wrongly executed to try to establish that fact, and to receive compensation if they do.

At the conclusion of the meeting, outgoing ABA President James R. Silkenat of New York will hand the gavel to his successor, incoming president William C. Hubbard of South Carolina.

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