2021 Virtual National Convention


Don’t Miss ACS’s 2021 Virtual Convention, June 7 – 11!

ACS is celebrating its twentieth year of shaping legal debate, nurturing the next generation of lawyers, judges, and advocates, and ensuring the law is a force to improve the lives of all people. We are focusing our work in this anniversary year on our Constitution’s “founding failures” when it comes to race and equality in this country, and reckoning with our past to create a more just future.

The Convention will feature conversations on the following topics:

  • What policies must be implemented or laws enacted to bring about a “Third Reconstruction” and make the promise of racial equality a reality?
  • How can we protect our democracy against concentrations of wealth and power?
  • How should lawyers who participated in the transgressions of the Trump administration be held accountable?
  • How should the progressive legal community respond to a judiciary stacked with judges that are potentially hostile to its view of the Constitution and the law?

Convention Programming will take place between  2:00 and 5:00 p.m. ET each day. Evening events and activities are also planned. Check back for specific times and stay tuned for more information including keynote speakers and panelists.

The Convention will be free to attend, but there will be a charge for those seeking CLE credit.


Monday, June 7

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Opening Session
  • Welcome Remarks
  • Plenary Panel: “Toward a Third Reconstruction”
    The promise of racial equality remains demonstrably unfulfilled in America. With white nationalists storming the Capitol and racially motivated violent extremism on the rise, COVID-19 ravaging communities of color, and police officers continuing to kill Black people without penalty, the past year has illuminated the myriad ways in which racism permeates every corner of our society. Calls have intensified for a “Third Reconstruction” that would both complete and expand upon the work started in the wake of the Civil War and again by the Civil Rights Movement. What would a successful Reconstruction look like and what policies must be implemented or laws enacted to make it a reality? What structural and institutional changes are necessary? What lessons can we learn from international efforts at racial healing and our own previous attempts to redress wrongs done to racial communities? And how can any of these changes become reality given our increasingly polarized society?

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

  • Members of Color Mixer

Tuesday, June 8

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Featured Speakers and Presentations TBA
  • Plenary Panel: “Advancing an Anti-Entrenchment Agenda: How to Save our Democracy by Deconcentrating Wealth and Power”
    Many of the key debates about the health of our democracy concern the concentration of wealth and power. Markedly unequal power in the marketplace has been coupled with the Supreme Court’s weakening of worker rights and protections and the underenforcement of antitrust law. And while institutions like the electoral college and the U.S. Senate were intended to protect against the “tyranny of the majority,” they arguably now cement a “tyranny of the minority.” These developments have led some commentators to call for an “anti-entrenchment” agenda that would counter the cumulative effects of rising economic inequality and the capture of our political system through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the corrupting influence of “big money.” What would an anti-entrenchment agenda look like? What structural reforms are necessary and what constitutional potholes should reformers plan for so that America’s democratic promise can be realized?

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

  • Practice Group Dinners

Wednesday, June 9

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Featured Speakers and Presentations TBA
  • Plenary Panel and Breakout Sessions: “The Meaning, Mode, and Value of Accountability”
    Who should be held accountable for the various transgressions of the Trump administration (or a future administration that similarly transgresses), in what way, and who decides? Where legal and ethics codes are violated, such decisions may be clear, but that may not always be the case. From the former president, down through high-level officials and lower-ranking attorneys who carried out the administration’s agenda, accountability is being sought for the undermining of the 2020 election and ensuing incitement to attack the Capitol, its family separation policy, the travel ban, the attack on Black Lives Matter protesters in Lafayette Park, and much more. Are law firms and universities that hire former administration officials “laundering” their reputations? Issues to be addressed by this panel may include censure, disbarment, civil litigation, and other mechanisms for holding lawyers and public officials accountable. Following the panel, we will hold facilitated breakout sessions to continue the discussion among convention attendees.

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

  • Student Networking Dinners

Thursday, June 10

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

  • Featured Speakers and Presentations TBA
  • Plenary Panel: “The Constitution in Exile”
    Progressives face a hostile federal judiciary hand-picked by Donald Trump for the next generation, and the Biden-Harris administration commission tasked with examining court reform options remains in formation. How should the progressive legal community respond to a judiciary stacked with judges that are potentially hostile to its view of the Constitution and law? Is now the time for progressives to assert our own version of the “Constitution in Exile”? Should progressives look to reduce the influence of the federal courts or identify targets of opportunity to achieve progressive gains through the courts where they exist? What other strategies are possible? This panel will address specific subject areas by way of example, such as anti-discrimination and reproductive rights, where recent changes to the Court’s composition are particularly worrisome.
  • Career Development Session: “Progressive Lawyering During a Friendly Administration”

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

  • Social Activity

Friday, June 11

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

  • Closing Session: “Leadership in the Face of Hate: Responding to the Rise in Anti-Asian Racism and Violence”
  • Farewell Remarks