Immigration reform, judicial bias and rise of racism among program highlights at ABA meeting in Las Vegas

New American Bar Association recommendations on immigration system reform, ways to mitigate judicial bias for more equitable outcomes, and the resurgence of racism toward immigrants and people of color are among the newsworthy legal issues that will be explored at the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting Jan. 23-28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

With several hundred top-quality legal programs and events, and presentations by America's foremost law experts and speakers, the ABA Midyear Meeting is the nation's premier gathering of legal professionals.

The 601-member ABA House of Delegates-the association's policy-making body-will meet Jan. 28, 9 a.m., in Augustus Ballroom (Emperors Level) of the Conference Center at Caesars Palace.

Notable programs include:

- "Commission on the Future of Legal Education" - Members of the ABA Innovation Center and the Commission on the Future of Legal Education, which was formed in 2017 to address the challenging job market for new lawyers, falling bar-passage rates and other issues in legal education, will join to discuss the commission's work thus far, as well as explore how best to align the education and licensing of legal professionals with accelerating technology advances and the ever-changing practice of law.

- "Improving Outcomes by Removing Legal Barriers in Southern Nevada" - Solutions to youth homelessness in Nevada will be examined by lawyers, advocates and providers. Led by Director Darla Bardine of the National Network for Youth and Program Officer Casey Trupin of the Raikes Foundation, a roundtable to experts will discuss the recently released "Southern Nevada Plan to End Youth Homelessness," covering such topics as existing legal resources, unmet needs and gaps in services, referral systems, as well as current local campaigns and model responses.

- "Trafficking in the World of Chance: Human Trafficking in the Casino Industry and Beyond" - An expert local panel including Las Vegas Judge Linda Bell of the Eighth Judicial Court; Director William Brunson of the National Judicial College of Reno; Security Vice President George Jenkot of Firekeepers Casino; and Deputy Chief Cristina Silva of Nevada's U.S. Attorney's Office will examine the human trafficking industry and its role in the casino industry, with a focus on the ways to identify victims, and the steps that must be taken to help end this form of modern human slavery.

- "10 Ways to Change the World #MakeJusticeReal" - Nationally recognized experts on a variety of advocacy issues, including civil rights, gun violence prevention, homelessness and poverty, human rights and more, will share how lawyers can leverage their passion for making a difference to affect change and inform the national discourse.

- "Putting ICE on Ice?" - In the past two years, the presence and activities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in state courthouses has been controversial. Panelists from across the criminal justice spectrum will discuss how immigration enforcement has interfered with state-court proceedings and the measures taken to maintain the independence of the courts, including specific actions some courts and state legislatures have taken to exclude ICE from conducting enforcement at state courthouses and proceedings.

- "How American Women Can Change the World" - Internationally acclaimed author Marianne Williamson discusses female power and contribution and its role in how American women are transforming U.S. society.

- "Better to Be Rich & Guilty? How Implicit Socio-Economic Bias Influences Outcomes of Judicial Bias" - A panel of judges including Bernice Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis lawyers and noted academics will examine the role of socio-economic bias in the justice system and offer research-based strategies to identify and mitigate the problem on a personal and systemic level for more equitable system outcomes.

- "The Rising Tide of Hate: How Welcoming the Stranger in a Nation of Immigrants Has Turned Violent" - As the majority of hate crimes in the United States are now based on race and ethnicity, an expert panel including MALDEF President Thomas Saenz, HIAS President Mark Hetfield and Michael Kagan and Mayra Salinas-Menjivar of the University of Nevada Las Vegas will examine the alarming rise in American nationalism and xenophobia that has led to anti-immigrant rhetoric, intensified immigration enforcement and incidents such as the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The panel will discuss what can be done to reverse the anti-immigrant fervor and restore faith in America as a beacon of opportunity for migrants.

- "New Release: ABA Update Report on Reforming the U.S. Immigration System" - As the nation's immigration courts and other adjudicative systems face untenable backlogs and growing concerns about due process and independence, the ABA will release an update to its 2010 report on the U.S. immigration system, highlighting necessary legislative action for vital systemic reform. The ABA report will offer a practical blueprint to improve the system so that it protects our most vulnerable, while also promoting fairness and due process.

- "The Resurgence of Racism in the Age of 'Making America Great Again:' The Role of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Lawyer in Dismantling Anti-Black Racism in Modern America" - Experts will lead a frank discussion of the realities of "living while black" in today's America, exploring the origins of the modern-day injustices, including: assaults on voting rights; educational inequities; the weaponization of law enforcement; macro- and micro-aggressions; and the policing of everyday actions. This program will identify the role of both citizens and civil rights and social justice lawyers in dismantling the systems, policies and practices that normalize racism and perpetuate the inequities that disproportionately impact African Americans.

- "Maybe There's an App for That: New Legal Technologies, Access to Justice and the Changing Practice of Law" - New technologies have automated aspects of legal practice and service delivery, forever changing the way law is practiced, empowering non-attorneys as well as altering the definition of the practice of law itself. A panel of researchers and academics studying the trend as well as those who are practicing law while also changing how it is done, including Judge Elizabeth S. Stong, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York; Rebecca Sandefur, associate professor, University of Illinois; Katherine Alteneder, director, Self-Represented Litigation Network; Barbara Buckley, executive director, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada; Georges Clement, co-founder,; and Daniel Rodriguez, professor, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

- "Conversion Therapy: Laws, Policy, Advocacy and Awareness in the United States and Beyond" - As the recent movie "Boy Erased" raises awareness of LGBT conversion therapy, noted experts including National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter, Williams Center Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels and survivor Mathew Shurka will discuss the laws, policy and advocacy work surrounding the disturbing treatment.

- "Tinker at 50: Student Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate and Beyond" - In the 50 years since the Supreme Court recognized that students have freedom of speech and other constitutional rights in public schools with its ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, what has changed? Academics including Professor Kay Kindred of the University of Nevada Las Vegas Boyd School of Law will answer the question in light of five decades of evolution in technology, education and societal values.

-"Human Rights Luncheon" - At ABA Midyear Meetings, the Center for Human Rights hosts a luncheon featuring an address by a prominent leader in international human rights law. The luncheon attracts more than 100 ABA leaders and international guests.

Published: Thu, Jan 10, 2019