Features

676 ABA Journal Features articles.

Judges differ on when it’s safe to hold in-person jury trials

Despite reports from federal courts of in-person jury trials being held safely, many judges across the country are still deliberating whether to hold in-person jury trials at all.

How Jim Crow-era laws still tear families from their homes

Heirs’ property is considered a vestige of the Jim Crow South, where unsophisticated property owners without the means or ability to hire a lawyer—or with a justifiable distrust of the courts—divvied up their assets informally, creating “interests” for descendants.

Courts attempt to balance innovation with access in remote proceedings

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the judiciary was slow to innovate and resistant to virtual proceedings. Now courts are using every tool at their disposal, balancing safety with the need to keep the wheels of justice spinning.

2021 Legal Rebels: Meet 10 legal professionals who are courting change

For this year’s class of Legal Rebels, the ABA Journal and the ABA Center for Innovation have chosen to highlight judges, lawyers and legal professionals who have helped bring about changes to the judicial system.

How can aging judges know when it’s time to hang up the robe?

Lawyers, law professors and even members of the judiciary voice concerns that judges are serving too much time on the bench without ensuring their cognitive skills stay sharp. They have called for mandatory retirement and cognitive testing as well as a more consistent approach to addressing cognitive decline. But members of the legal community who have experience with neuroscience argue that the question of when a judge should step down is complex.

Lawyers involved in the gun debate are primed for the Supreme Court to take the next big case

As fatal police shootings and gun violence ravage Black communities, and mass shootings and active shooter drills have become ingrained in the American experience, local and state governments have countered the threat by creating more gun laws. As gun rights groups have fought those laws in the courts, it’s become a common refrain that trial judges are flouting the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller and undermining Second Amendment rights.

Law school debt is delaying plans for recent grads

Some new attorneys delay buying a home or a new car. Others reluctantly postpone marriage and having children while altering the career plans they had going into law school. These are among the personal and professional sacrifices young lawyers often make due to their sizable student loan debt.

Coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes prompt lawsuits and questions about who’s responsible

A growing number of negligence suits are being filed across the country against nursing homes and other long-term care facilities by families whose relatives died from the coronavirus while living in such facilities.

Recent equal pay lawsuits by female law professors has shined a light on academic compensation process

“People who violate the norms get punished. Whether that is demanding equal pay, demanding to get the same quality of work as a nonminority or demanding to be spoken to with dignity, norm violators get punished. And for too long, women were expected to sit down, be quiet and follow the lead of men,” says Fitzgerald Bramwell, a Chicago litigator.

Is this a moment or a movement? 6 civil rights lawyers reflect on recent demands for racial justice

Lawyers have a long tradition of supporting efforts to bring racial and social justice to this country. Recent killings of unarmed Black people by police have sparked a new wave of protests and demonstrations on a scale not seen in decades. Once again, the nation has been forced to pay attention.

ABA’s Practice Forward group will help lawyers navigate rapidly changing profession

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has forced lawyers and the justice system to quickly implement new ways of operating to best serve the public, and experts predict many of these changes will continue beyond the current global health crisis. In response, the ABA has created the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward.

Documentaries are shaping public opinion and influencing cases

“Legal documentaries reflect the best of what media can do,” says Dan Abrams, chief legal affairs anchor at ABC News. “They can expose injustices, highlight things that have been buried and force action from people in power.” On the flip side, Abrams cautions that some documentaries can blur the line between journalism and advocacy, giving them a veneer or presumption of legitimacy.

Activists are fighting new voter suppression tactics in court

Despite legislative achievements, it wasn’t long until end runs were made around voter protection laws, and those efforts are alive and well, election law attorneys and voting rights advocates say.

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally remake the legal industry?

Many technological changes being adopted now will persist beyond COVID-19, as will the utilization of remote working. Meanwhile, others have suggested the widespread upheaval will provide fuel for state reviews of whether to open up the legal marketplace to alternative business structures and nonlawyer practitioners.

How to avoid 10 common ethics pitfalls

We asked legal ethics experts for a primer on the most pressing and pernicious ethics traps out there for the modern lawyer, along with best practices to avoid problems on the front end.

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