Midyear Meeting

In speech, Deborah Enix-Ross applauds ABA's civic and civil engagement

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Deborah Enix-Ross

ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross addresses the House of Delegates on Monday at the 2023 midyear meeting. (Photo by ©Kathy Anderson)

Referencing the “three Cs” that have become a hallmark of her presidency, ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross’ speech to the House of Delegates focused on how members’ work has helped people with a variety of issues.

“The legal profession’s values of civics, civility and collaboration must be heard loud and clear in our communities,” said Enix-Ross, senior advisor to the International Dispute Resolution Group at Debevoise & Plimpton.

The House gathered Monday at the 2023 ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans.

Examples she cited include the ABA’s Poll Worker Esq. initiative, the Cornerstones of Democracy Commission and the ABA’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, known as ProBAR.

In January, the association released its first-ever ABA Impact Report, which details how it has helped members use the legal system to advance the profession’s voice for justice in the past year.

Enix-Ross’ work as ABA president has included collaboration with other bar groups, and she applauded efforts to work together as the country continues to experience “combative polarization.”

She said the work she has seen being done by those groups as well as ABA members energizes her.

She added, “I believe Americans can come together to solve problems, but it’s not always clear how. Let me suggest that at the ABA, we are doing so in numerous ways,” said Enix-Ross, who is based in New York City.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2023 ABA Midyear Meeting here.

The speech also addressed ABA Day and its role in educating people about the importance of legal aid funding through the Legal Services Corp. Additionally, Enix-Ross mentioned Free Legal Answers, an ABA online portal for state bar associations to connect pro bono lawyers with people who can’t afford counsel.

“Though the civil justice gap in America is unacceptably wide, our work together in the ABA has made an impressive impact with the Disaster Legal Services Program of the Young Lawyers Division and its state and local bar affiliates,” Enix-Ross said.

Another offering, the ABA Legal Education Police Practices Consortium, was also mentioned. It includes 60 participating law schools and helps police departments develop bias-free policies that uphold the rule of law and protect safety, she said.

“I am greatly encouraged by your bar associations, the ABA Diversity Center and our numerous sections, divisions and forums that work to ensure that our profession is open to all, and that our bar associations are welcoming to all,” said Enix-Ross, who is the second Black woman to serve as an ABA president.

Additionally, Enix-Ross recognized the work of Jack Rives, executive director of the ABA, who is stepping down in March. He was appointed to the position in 2010.

“Saddened as we are to see him go, I am also honored to send him off with a thank you that words alone cannot fully express. Jack, we are grateful for your service,” she said.

See also:

Video: ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross addresses the House of Delegates (Feb. 6, 2023)

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