Friday, August 5th was the most tightly scheduled day of the ABA meeting for me. I thought I had plenty of time, but I realized there was no iron in the room.  The front desk promised to send one, but it never materialized.  I opened the door and asked the housekeeper, who remembered removing if from my room, but forgot to replace it. Then, of course as all hotel irons do (I don’t know why I’m always caught off guard) it leaked. Pressed for time, so to speak, I got out the blow dryer—problem solved.

I hadn’t yet picked up my registration materials for the meeting, so the first stop of necessity would have to be the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The ABA adopted a new system this year.  Each badge has a bar code and a scan of that code indicates whether a participant registered for a particular type of programming. As a participant entered the room, her badge was scanned. Though I could probably get into most of the events that day without a badge, it just made sense to go register to remove any potentially embarrassing situations. The convention center was quite a ways from my hotel and the shuttle was nowhere in sight, so I hopped into a cab. In fact, I never did see the shuttle pull up at the hotel the entire time I was there. My driver had a tough time getting to the center because of all the construction on the streets in the area.  He told me that there is a condo being sold every minute in Toronto.  From the looks of all the building taking place it seemed possible, but we both wondered out loud about where all the folks buying the new apartments were coming from.

When we pulled up in front of the convention center there were busses everywhere and a (seemingly) grouchy traffic officer making certain we didn’t dally. The center had the same cavernous feeling of most convention centers and to register you had to take escalators down into the bowels of the building–two or three levels. When I emerged into the sunlight I bumped into Jim Leipold, Executive Director of NALP and Dean Thorny Steele.  We talked briefly about the distance between the hotels where the functions were taking place and the pending placement-reporting requirement for law Fairmont HotelJudge John Stroud asked me to attend the luncheon meeting of the State Chairs of the ABA Foundation Fellows on behalf of Arkansas. The shuttle I needed to get there had not arrived, so I hopped in a cab and made it there with a few minutes to spare.  The meeting was on the 19th floor and only a couple of elevators went there. Needless to say it took getting into the wrong elevator to figure that out.  I wasn’t the only one.  When I found the right elevator another guy jumped in at the last minute with me and was hostage until the 11th floor.  It was an express and he’d wanted to go to the 6th floor.

There were only a few people there when I arrived, and as I checked in, I explained that I was a stand in for Judge Stroud.  Coincidentally, I ended up sitting next to Rew Goodenow who like me, graduated from Iowa law school one year before me.  He’s the editor of the ABA Journal and was familiar with the blog. As if that wasn’t enough of the “small world” effect, I also sat with Justice Doug Lang from Texas. We’d both been on a conference call for Inn of Court development, but had never before met. A fellow (pun intended) to my immediate right David Bobzein, knew Rick & Clair Ramsay because he had attended the Southern Conference of Bar Presidents when Arkansas hosted it.  He talked about how impressed he’d been with the event, Rick and Clair, and Little Rock. So it was old home week, in a setting in which I least expected it.  During the luncheon each state’s representative had to stand, say who they were, and report on the membership and activities of the ABA Fellows in that state. 

Once that was done, Kay Hodge (who by the way is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Section), thanked everyone for their efforts on behalf of the foundation and introduced William Hubbard the president of the foundation.  He spoke of his gratitude for the commitment of the fellows and noted that over the past 4 years, contributions to the foundation have doubled, which is especially helpful in light of recent market trends. He reported on a first-of-its-kind study sponsored by the foundation, which was conducted by Susan Shapiro on end of life decision making. The After the JD results are also available, and it provides important insight into attorney retention and firm climate issues among other important findings. The foundation is also undertaking a new initiative on diversity in the law, which includes the creation of a research chair and center. Bob Nelson, the Director of the Foundation reported on two additional studies conducted under the auspices of the foundation, Shari Diamond’s study on juries and Kenneth Hagin’s work on Darfur.

From there I headed back to the Marriott for the meeting of the Council of the Labor and Employment Law (LEL) Section.  The new officers are elected at the summer meeting, and the agenda is typically less full.  We received reports from our outgoing Chair, Gordy Krischer, Chair-Elect Rick Seymour (who’s now chair but not at the time of the meeting) and updates from our representatives in the ABA House of Delegates. One of the items, which prompted the most discussion, was the attendance at the annual meeting CLE programs. This year attendance at the sessions was low although the quality of the programming was very good. I’m certain the Council will revisit this topic in the future. We also received and update from Joyce Margulies, Chair of the Leadership Development Program, and Joel D’Alba on the status of the Government Fellowship Program.


Our section reception followed the meeting, but so did the reception for the Section on Legal Education, during which the Kutak Rock award is given.  Because I’d be having dinner later with the LEL Council I opted to spend a little time with my fellow academics at the Legal Ed. reception.  That necessitated another cab ride, this time to the Le Meridien King Edward Hotel.  As soon as I walked into the door I saw Bucky Askew, Dan Freeling, and Deans Raymond Pearce, David Yellen, Jay Conison & Rick Matasar as well as Susan Prager, Executive Director of AALS. Inside the reception I ran into Deans Chuck Goldner, Linda Ammons, Art Gaudio, Joan Howarth, Rudy Hasl, Bob Jerry and Thorny Steele.  Almost felt like being at a deans meeting.  It was good to see them all and to be there to have an opportunity to learn of, and recognize with others present that evening, the achievements of John D. Feerick, Professor and former dean of Fordham University School of Law.

Let me share a few highlights of his impressive career as noted in the event program.  John served as president of the 23,000 member Association of the Bar of New York City.  His involvement with the Section of Legal Education included chairing the Standards Review Committee, the Professionalism Committee, and the Board of Visitors Committee. He chaired a conference in February 2000, on the Legal Education Continuum that brought together law school deans, bar presidents, and executives and bar foundations to explore ways to bridge the gap between law schools and the practicing bars. John received a special award from the ABA for his work to help secure ratification of the 25th Amendment, and a book he wrote on the topic, entitled The 25th Amendment was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. That year, John received the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s D’Alemberte Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding service in dispute resolution. These are only a few of Dean Feerick’s many accomplishments and recognitions.  You can read more about him here.

I left the reception before it ended to hop in another cab to head to the LEL Council dinner at Sassafraz. The restaurant had a chic modern feel. Our group ate together in a private room and ordered from a special menu for the evening.  I sat with Nora Macey, former section chair, Barb D’Aquila, Marty Malin, Joyce Margulies & Barry Hartstein.  The LEL Section is my ABA home.  I’ve known many of the folks on the council for years, and they are friends as well as professional colleagues.  I respect their knowledge and experience in the practice of labor and employment law, but have learned much more from them over the years, than the law.  Being with them at the close of the day was a familiar and comfortable ending to a busy day.