Erek L. Barron//February 14, 2012
//February 14, 2012
Earlier this month, I participated in the American Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting in New Orleans. Aside from the obvious benefit of being in a great location I’ve never been to before, the meeting was a perfect example of some of the benefits of being active in the bar.
Of course, there were excellent CLEs and panel discussions. Not only did I attend an educational event put on by the ABA Criminal Justice Section, but I also participated in one at Tulane Law School.
There, I had the honor of discussing careers in criminal justice alongside a sitting U.S. District Court judge and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, which gave me an opportunity to learn and to hopefully impart something helpful to a room full of law students.
The ABA meetings are also an opportunity to recognize those attorneys and judges who are doing great things nationally and back in their home states. A member of Maryland’s delegation was awarded as a finalist for the ABA National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. Recognitions such as these are important not only for the recipient but also for those in attendance as inspiration to do better in our profession and communities.
These meetings are a big draw, filling up hotels with lawyers and judges from across the country. As such, they are often a great venue for policymakers to come, be heard and make news. One day during the meeting I had lunch a table over from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and I got to break bread and discuss issues with members of his staff. Holder gave a speech during the lunch and announced, for the first time, plans to offer $2.4 million in grants for improvements to indigent legal services.
Finally, the ABA meetings are a great place to network with colleagues and meet new people. My wife and I were strolling one day in the French Quarter and walked into the Kitchen Witch, a book store for cookbooks, and while musing over various gumbo recipes, we bumped into a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Justice Antonin Scalia and his family graciously allowed us to take a picture. Fortunately, it was safer than hanging out with Justice Stephen Breyer but unfortunately, there was no time to discuss the constitutionality of healthcare (I think I could’ve contributed to oral arguments).
Think about attending an ABA meeting sometime – the ABA Young Lawyers Division next meets in Nashville from May 3-5 and the ABA’s Annual Meeting is in Chicago from August 2–7.
(Photos courtesy of Erek Barron. Top, Taria Barron, left, Justice Antonin Scalia and Erek Barron)t