Bar Associations

ABA Offers Refunds to Those Boycotting Arizona Conference

  • Print.

The Equal Justice Conference to be hosted by the American Bar Association next week is being held in Phoenix. And that has put the ABA on the hot seat as individuals and organizations unhappy about the state’s controversial new immigration law call for a boycott of the event.

ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm has strongly criticized the new law, which calls for police in Arizona to check residency status if they have a reasonable suspicion an individual might be an illegal immigrant. The law makes it a misdemeanor not to produce papers proving legal status upon demand.

But canceling the program, which is in its 12th year, would further harm the interests of the underserved poor and low-income individuals it is intended to help, Lamm said in a Tuesday press release (PDF).

“The Equal Justice Conference brings together all components of the legal community to further the delivery of legal services to the poor and low-income individuals who are in need of legal assistance,” Lamm said. “We are not going to allow these efforts to be even temporarily derailed by an unjust law. Doing so would have a further detrimental effect and run contrary to ensuring the principles on which our nation was formed continue to thrive.”

Hence, the ABA will host the conference as planned and expand the program’s immigration offerings. (Approximately five of the program’s 85 workshops are expected to be canceled because of presenter cancellations, but they will be supplemented with networking and substantive sessions related to immigration issues.)

However, “the ABA will carefully assess whether to schedule future conferences in the state of Arizona unless the law is invalidated,” the release concludes, not quoting Lamm directly. The issue is expected to be on the agenda for an ABA Board of Governors meeting in early June.

Meanwhile, the ABA has offered a full refund to conference participants who request one by e-mailing Meaghan Sherer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) prior to 5 p.m. CT on Friday, May 7.

“If you contact us by that date, we will refund your full conference registration fee without penalty or, at your choice, credit it as full registration for the 2011 Equal Justice Conference in San Francisco, regardless of any increase in the registration fee for next year,” states an explanation sent to registrants.

Participants will need to cancel their own hotel reservations at least 72 hours prior to their planned arrival, though, and the ABA can’t be responsible for hotel or air fare losses, it notes.

Additional coverage:

Am Law Daily: “ABA Feeling Heat Over Not Canceling Upcoming Meeting in Arizona”

New York Law Journal: “ABA Pressured to Move Immigration Conference out of Arizona”

New York Law Journal: “More Legal Groups Join Boycott of ABA’s Phoenix Meeting”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.