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From October 19 to October 21, progressive legal minds from around the country gathered in beautiful Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the first ever ACS National Lawyer Convening! There were more than 120 people in attendance with representatives from 16 states and the District of Columbia, including 19 ACS Lawyer Chapters, and what a time we had together! From networking events at the Milwaukee City Hall Rotunda to the Milwaukee Public Market, attendees got to spend quality time discussing important progressive legal issues and making invaluable connections. With panels and presentations on topics like voting rights, the state of the judiciary, criminal justice, and tips and tricks for progressive leadership, our ACS attendees left with renewed energy and insight on the most pressing legal issues of our time!
The September 2017 Lawyer Chapter event of the month was Nashville’s annual Supreme Court Preview, held on September 7th at the offices of Bass, Berry & Sims PLC. More than 100 people attended the event. The hour-long session was headlined by Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor at Slate Magazine, who has won multiple awards for her writings on law and the courts, and also hosts the podcast Amicus. Dahlia discussed the recent protests and violence in Charlottesville, as well as key cases and themes from the previous U.S. Supreme Court term. The event concluded after a Q&A session with the audience. Thank you all who attended and our hard-working Nashville Chapter Board and Board of Advisors, particularly president Hunter Branstetter and Supreme Court Preview Chair Nicholas Alexiou. We want to extend special thanks to photographer Ross Jaynes for donating his services. To view a recording of the event, click here.
Our August event of the month is the Northeast Ohio Chapter’s 2017 Annual Luncheon. The event brought together the progressive legal community to honor former U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon with the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Service Award for her longstanding service to the Ohio community, her leadership on the Cleveland Consent Decree, voting rights issues, the opioid epidemic, and much more. The event featured remarks from Steve Dettelbach, former U.S. Attorney; the Honorable Solomon Oliver, Jr., United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Ohio; and Dave Rowan, Chief Legal Officer of the Cleveland Clinic. Attendees included two members of the Cleveland City Council, as well as numerous other elected officials and judges. The program culminated with a conversation between Ms. Rendon and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Connie Schultz. Our congratulations to chapter chair Ryan Babiuch, past chair Michael Meuti, and the entire Northeast Ohio board on an inspiring and meaningful event.
On July 10, 2017, the Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter hosted an exciting and in-depth program reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court's most recent term, with over 80 attendees! This event featured, Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and moderated by Catherine M.A. Carroll, Partner at WilmerHale. Both parties shared their thoughts and insights on this year’s most significant and high-profile decisions. Dean Chemerinsky has authored more than 200 law review articles, is the author of ten books, and was named the most influential person in legal education in the United States by the National Jurist magazine. Ms. Carroll's practice focuses on appellate litigation in the US Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals and was named a "Rising Star" by Law360 as one of the top appellate attorneys under 40 years old. Thanks to the chapters leadership, the Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter has had an amazing year holding programs on topics such as, the future of digital free speech, private prisons being unconstitutional, defending civil liberties, mixers, and happy hours, just to name a few of their great events! Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter on a wonderful event!
From June 8 – 10, ACS held the National Convention in Washington, D.C. and nearly 800 of the nation’s leading progressive lawyers, law professors, policy advocates, judges, law students, and elected officials made the event one to remember. This year’s event featured a truly amazing lineup of speakers, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Sen. Mazie Hirono, Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey, Southern Center for Human Rights President Steve Brights, and Constitutional Rights Advocate Khizr Khan. Topics presented included constitutional governance, immigration, voting rights, reproductive rights, housing segregation, and government transparency. Outside of the classroom, attendees got to network with like-minded colleagues during speed networking, a welcome reception, various happy hours, and leadership sessions. We are looking forward to another great National Convention in Washington D.C from June 2018!
On May 8, the Boston Lawyer Chapter organized a brown bag lunch program featuring Jim Tierney, former Maine Attorney General, Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, the Director of StateAG.org, an educational resource on state attorneys general, and a member of the advisory committee for the ACS State Attorneys General project. For this event, Mr. Tierney led a discussion on the role of state attorneys general in the American legal system, which examined the multifaceted responsibilities of this office by analyzing the emerging issues and areas of jurisdiction in which state attorneys general play an increasingly important role. The conversation also explored ways in state attorneys general can work to safeguard the civil liberties of marginalized communities facing new threats under President Trump’s administration. This event was one of many programs featuring Mr. Tierney and ACS’s lawyer chapters across the country during the spring and summer months of 2017.
On April 28, the Columbus Lawyer Chapter held its annual reception. The event honored several leaders of the local progressive legal community, including Rachel Bloomekatz, Principal at Gupta Wessler PLLC, who received the Progressive Young Leadership Award, bestowed “in honor of outstanding contributions made by an individual whose early commitment to upholding the fundamental values of the constitution is an example to all that follow.” The event also honored Professor Daniel P. Tokaji from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, who received the Excellence in Mentorship Award, given “in honor of exemplary work in inspiring and developing progressive lawyers through mentorship, advisement, and support.” The program’s keynote speaker was Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and recipient of the John Robert M. Duncan Award, bestowed “in honor of making invaluable contributions to democracy, fostering legal education, ensuring access to justice, and preserving individual rights and the rule of law.” The honorees addressed numerous timely topics, including voting rights, the First Amendment, and gender equality, particularly the value placed on women as they age. Sponsors included Bricker & Eckler LLP at the gold level, and bronze sponsors Georgeann Corey, Maryline and John Kulewicz, and an anonymous sponsor. Congratulations to the entire Columbus Lawyer Chapter, particularly co-chairs Nikki Trautman Baszynski and Dylan Borchers, and event chair Michael Corey, for a fantastic event.
On March 15, the San Diego Lawyer Chapter held its annual reception with a new fundraising record and a full house of attendees to celebrate the event. This year’s theme was “The Supreme Court in the Trump Years,” and featured Linda Greenhouse, Yale Law School Senior Research Scholar in Law, Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence, and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law; and member of the ACS Board of Advisors. Also featured and honored with the Roberto Alvarez Award was Judy Clarke, noted criminal defense attorney and member of the San Diego Lawyer Chapter Board of Advisors. The event was held at the University of San Diego-Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Sponsors included Latham & Watkins LLP at the diamond level, platinum sponsors Gayle M. Blatt and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, gold sponsors William and Michelle Lerach, silver sponsors Iredale and Yoo, APC and the University of San Diego School of Law, and bronze sponsors Progressive Law Group, Shari Lawson, Mary Lundberg, and Michael Pancer. Congratulations to the entire San Diego Lawyer Chapter, particularly chair Kaley Lichtman and event chair Maya Uffenheimer, for a wonderful event.
The February Lawyer Chapter event of the month is Love Our Constitution. So many chapters participated in this nationwide initiative that we can’t limit it to just one event, but here are some of our favorites from across the country: Chicago Lawyer Chapter Board Member Candice Kline and Lydia Lazar hosted a Love Our Constitution discussion at Yarnify! a Chicago store dedicated to knitting and other fiber arts; Bay Area Board Member Palak Sheth hosted the pictured “Post March Salon” on Love Our Constitution in a living room in San Francisco, and our Colorado Lawyer Chapter and University of Denver student chapter teamed up to hold a Love Our Constitution program at Strum College of Law. Finally, ACS Director of Strategic Engagement Lena Zwarensteyn recorded a Love Our Constitution presentation on YouTube that can be watched any time. You can read more about Love Our Constitution (and some other wonderful examples of the programs held by ACS lawyer and law student members) in this article from The Guardian. Check out photos from these and other Love Our Constitution events in our Facebook photo album. It’s not too late to participate – we’re encouraging Love Our Constitution events through the end of March. Just visit the Love Our Constitution site to learn more.
On January 18, the Northeast Ohio Lawyer Chapter and the Case Western Reserve Student Chapter held a timely panel entitled, “Trump, Security, and Muslim Civil Liberties. During his campaign and in the days prior to inauguration, President Trump made several proposals and remarks concerning a Muslim registry, a ban on Muslim entry, extreme vetting of Muslim, loyalty oaths, mosque surveillance, and variations on those proposals with a focus on geographical regions from where Muslim-associated terrorists have emerged. The Northeast Ohio Lawyer Chapter assembled a powerhouse panel of experts and representatives from the Muslim community, constitutional law, immigration, and national security and law enforcement to discuss the various issues and concerns related to these policies. This event was so profound and innovative that it won the National Lawyer Chapter Award for Most Creative Lawyer Chapter Program of 2017.
Our December featured event is actually multiple events; in December alone, lawyer chapters held 9 events on The Gavel Gap, the disparity between the demographics of state court judges and the communities they serve. Photos of just some of the events are below. Thank you to all of the chapters that held Gavel Gap programming in December!
North Carolina Lawyer Chapter: The Gavel Gap Year End Cocktail Party
Our November featured event is the Georgia Lawyer Chapter’s annual Legal Legends Awards Reception, which was held in Atlanta on November 16 at the Georgia State Bar Conference Center. There were many reasons it was a wonderful event, including the great attendance from a wide variety of lawyers and judges, the inspiring and worthy honorees (Emmet J. Bondurant of Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP and Claudia S. Saari, the Circuit Public Defender of Dekalb County), the excellent introductions of each honoree that went beyond reciting bios and instead delved into each honoree’s specific contributions to the legal community, and the fact it was an incredibly successful fundraiser. The chapter’s leadership – particularly co-chairs Katherine Dunn and Matthew Weiss and event chair Douglas Park – worked together to begin soliciting sponsorships very early, to solicit law firms as well as non-profits and major corporations affiliated with the honorees and/or the Georgia legal community more generally, and did not give up until they surpassed their fundraising goal. Congratulations to the Georgia Lawyer Chapter on a wonderful event!
During October, we relaunched two lawyer chapters, both of which happen to be in Wisconsin: the Madison Lawyer Chapter held its kick-off on Tuesday, October 11, and the Milwaukee Lawyer Chapter held its kick-off on Thursday, October 20. Throughout the fall season, ACS Lawyer Chapters have been holding excellent programming and events across the country, but we’d like to highlight these two excellent events as our featured events for the Fall Quarter.
The Madison event was notable not just because of its excellent roster of speakers (though they were great: Madison Lawyer Chapter Chair Jeff Mandell, National Board Member Tim Burns, and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin), or its excellent attendance (a very packed room of 125 Madison area lawyers, students, judges, and policymakers), but because of the way the Chapter reached out to media to publicize the event and the underlying issue it was addressing – judicial nominations. Before the event, Jeff Mandell, working with ACS communications staff, drafted an op-ed on judicial nominations that was printed by the Wisconsin State Journal the Sunday before the event. In that way, not only did the chapter increase awareness of the event and of ACS, but more importantly, people from across Wisconsin had the opportunity to learn more about the critical issue of judicial nominations. (The op-ed is available here.) The chapter also reached out to local media and invited them to cover the event, and Wisconsin Public Radio was among the outlets that attended and covered it. (The article, which includes comments Senator Baldwin made outside the context of the event itself, is available here.) Wisconsin Eye Public Affairs Network also attended and taped the event, enabling those who could not attend to view the program. (The video is available here.) Finally, after the event, Jeff Mandell wrote a summary of the event for the ACS blog, further expanding the reach of the event. Congratulations to Jeff Mandell and the rest of the Madison Lawyer Chapter Board on a great relaunch. We look forward to your upcoming events!
The Milwaukee Lawyer Chapter announced its return in a big way, holding an excellent and well-attended program on Wisconsin Voting Rights Litigation. The Milwaukee event featured a panel of practitioners (Joshua Karl, Matthew O’Neill, and Karyn Rotker) discussing the major Madison and Milwaukee voting rights cases and issues. The event was moderated by law professor Ed Fallone of Marquette University Law School. In addition to featuring the perspectives of practitioners on the ground focused on voting rights work as well as a scholarly perspective, the event featured remarks by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Mayor Barrett is intimately familiar with voting rights issues in Wisconsin from the viewpoint of a public official, and his opening comments helped frame the discussion. In his remarks, Mayor Barrett noted the importance of ACS, stating “I don’t view it as their side and our side. I view it as their side and the Constitution’s side.” Milwaukee Chair Craig Mastantuono also spoke at the event and introduced everyone to ACS. In addition to presenting excellent and timely content, the event was successful because the Lawyer Chapter partnered with the Marquette University Law School Student Chapter. The Student Chapter arranged the room, handled many of the logistical details, and recruited student attendees. The Student Chapter was also able to arrange for the event to be taped by Marquette’s staff, making the content available for those who were unable to attend. (The video is available here.)