Foreclosures in Minority Communities, Workplace Diversity, Perceptions of Justice Among Diversity Topics Explored at _ Meeting in Atlanta

Spirit of Excellence Awards to Honor Diversity in the Profession

CHICAGO, Feb. 2, 2011 — Combating foreclosures in minority communities, workplace diversity, perceptions of justice and other diversity issues in the legal realm will be explored at the 2011 American Association Midyear Meeting, Feb. 9 – 14, in Atlanta.

High-profile speakers scheduled to speak at the meeting include Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham;David Boies, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP; Theodore B. Olson Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP; and a panel of general counsel from top Fortune 500 companies.

The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity will present the 2011 Spirit of Excellence Awards to individuals who have contributed to diversity in the profession.  Among the awardees is Atlanta lawyer and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears.

The 560-member House of Delegates, the association’s policymaking body,will meet Feb. 14 at the meeting headquarters, the Marriott Atlanta Marquis, in the Atrium Ballroom, Atrium Level.  In addition to considering policy recommendations and voting on resolutions, the House of Delegates will welcome Atlanta U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who will provide opening remarks at the assembly.

Diversity programs include:

“Finding Your Own Voice—Ethical Dilemmas, Race and Gender Challenges and the Pitfalls of Practice” This panel provides tips for lawyers of various ethnic backgrounds on maintaining a sense of “self,” and teaches minority lawyers to recognize ethical dilemmas and race and gender challenges.
Feb. 10, 4 – 6 p.m., Hyatt Regency Atlanta, F/G Exhibit Level, Hanover Hall

“Diversity in the Workplace: Understanding Micro-Insults” will explore how workers of diverse backgrounds may have to deal with unintended insults or slights made by members of the “dominant” group or others from different backgrounds.
Feb. 11, 8:45 – 9:45 a.m., Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Conference Center, Baker Room

“What is Worth Billions of Dollars, but is Worthless? Heir Property in America and the Loss of African-American Land” Panelists will discuss how heir property has resulted in the loss of 95 percent of African-American farmland, particularly in the south, and how that land can be better preserved.  Guests include Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia state director of rural development, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Crystal Chastain Baker, Georgia Appleseed; and others.
Feb. 11, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Lobby Level, L403

“Debunking the Myth of the Post-Racial Society” Panelists will discuss unresolved issues of race and ethnicity in society, looking at recent events involving police brutality, racial profiling and immigration.  The panel includes civil rights activist and Alabama’s first African-American federal judge, U.W. Clemon.
Feb. 11, 3:30 – 5 p.m., Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Atrium Level, A701

“Hot Topics in Diversity Law” Panelists will focus on current issues relating to diversity in the legal profession.
Feb. 10, 4 – 5:30 p.m., Georgia State University College of Law, Urban Life Building, Room 100, 140 Decatur Street

“Spirit of Excellence Awards Luncheon” recognizes individuals for their contributions to a more diverse profession.  Among the awardees are:

  • Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears (ret.), Georgia Supreme Court. Judge Sears was the youngest person and first woman to ever serve on the Georgia Supreme Court.  As chief justice she spearheaded the court’s Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law, and its Committee on Civil Justice.
  • Eva Paterson, founder, Equal Justice Society, campaigns for civil rights in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paterson led a successful campaign to defeat a ballot measure in California that would have prevented collection of racial demographic data and documentation of racial bias.
  • Judge Bernice Donald, U.S.District Court. Judge Donald was the first African-American female appointed to a federal district court judgeship in the Western District of Tennessee.
  • Kevin Gover has been an advocate for the rights of Native Americans.  He now serves as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  During the Clinton administration, Gover was the assistant secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs.
  • Judge Denny Chin, U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit, is the only active Asian American federal appellate judge in the nation. He has a history of hiring racially diverse law clerks and mentoring lawyers from various backgrounds.
  • Charles R. Callerosis a law professor with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Tempe. He has created mentoring opportunities for college and high school students that have helped young people in Arizona pursue and succeed in careers in law.

Feb. 12, Noon – 2 p.m., Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Atrium Level, Atrium Ballroom A/B

“Combating Foreclosures and the Mortgage Crisis in Communities of Color” Panelists will spotlight an innovative pro bono program designed to save homeowners from foreclosures and protect communities of color from the negative impact of the mortgage crisis.  Panelists will focus on providing individuals and organizations with basic information, fundamental tools and legal protocols that help avoid foreclosures.
Feb. 12, 2 – 4 p.m., Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Marquis Level. Marquis Ballroom, Salon D

“Perceptions of Justice: A Town Hall Dialogue on Color, Ethnicity and the Courts”
Moderated by Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree and Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, the discussion will explore the extent to which ethnic groups perceive the justice system to be fair and potential problems that may need to be addressed.  After brief remarks, the moderators will open the discussion to the audience of lawyers, judges, local officials and members of the Atlanta community.
Feb.12, 2 – 5 p.m., Georgia State University, Speakers Auditorium, Student Center, 444 Courtland Street

During the Midyear Meeting, a press room for accredited journalists will be set up on the International Level of the Marriott Atlanta Marquis, and will open for on-site media registration at 8 a.m. on Feb. 10.  Thereafter the press room will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Feb. 14.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Credential guidelines are at https://abanow.org/reporter-resources/media-credentials/.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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