Midyear Meeting 2009

Cuban-American Lawyer in Line to Head ABA

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Talk about your landslides.

On Sunday morning, the ABA Nominating Committee voted unanimously to confirm its selection of Stephen N. Zack of Miami as the next president-elect nominee of the ABA. The outcome was never in doubt because Zack was running unopposed.

Zack will be introduced to the House of Delegates on Monday, the closing day of the 2009 ABA Midyear Meeting in Boston. His nomination assures that Zack will be formally selected by the House as president-elect in August during the annual meeting in Chicago, and he will automatically begin serving a one-year term as president at the close of the 2010 annual meeting in San Francisco.

The 66-member Nominating Committee is made up of the 51 delegates elected to represent each state and the District of Columbia, and nine members representing sections and divisions, three minority members-at-large and three women members-at-large.

The anticlimactic nature of the Nomination Committee’s action took nothing away from its impact, Zack told the ABA Journal. “You look back on your ABA life, and you can’t believe that you’re being given this opportunity,” said Zack, a past chair of the House of Delegates and a past president of the Florida Bar.

Sounding the theme that has been running through the midyear meeting—the nation’s growing economic crisis—Zack said this is a critical time for lawyers to step forward because more than the nation’s economic well-being is at stake.

During crises, “people tend to trade one thing off for another, and that goes for economic crises, as well,” he said. “In tough times, people will challenge our liberties and our rights.” Zack said he learned that lesson personally when his family, originally from Europe, fled Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power.

Prior to its voting session, the Nominating Committee sponsored an open forum where candidates for all four ABA officer posts made their opening pitches. The committee will vote on this slate of nominees in February 2010 at the Midyear Meeting in Orlando. There are contested races for three of the four posts, but don’t expect the cacophony of a typical political election. In ABA races, candidates focus on low-key appearances at meetings of various ABA entities, and state and local bars.

The only candidate running unopposed is Lucian T. Pera, a candidate to become ABA treasurer in August 2011 after serving a year as treasurer-elect. Pera is a member of Adams and Reese in Memphis, Tenn.

Candidates to become ABA president in August 2011 (after serving a year as president-elect) are H. William Allen, of the Allen Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark.; and Wm. T. “Bill” Robinson III, who heads the Florence, Ky., office of Frost Brown Todd.

Running to become chair of the House of Delegates in August 2010 are Linda A. Klein, managing shareholder of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Atlanta; and David C. Weiner, who chairs the worldwide pro bono activities of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cleveland.

Candidates to become ABA secretary in August 2011 (after serving a year as secretary-elect) are David S. Houghton, a member of Lieben Whitted Houghton Slowiaczek & Cavanagh in Omaha, Neb.; Cara Lee Neville, a Minnesota district judge in Minneapolis; and Pauline A. Weaver, deputy public defender for Alameda County in Oakland, Calif.

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