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    April 21, 2008  
 
 

ALITO AT ABA


Join us for lunch with three of America's top General Counsels: Freddie Mac's Bob Bostrom, the Washington Post's Veronica Dillon, and American Capital Strategies' Sam Flax (largest publicly-held private equity firm in the US; Sam and his team were named WMACCA's law department of the year).  Wed, May 28, at Il Mulino in DC. Sign up here. Thanks to great sponsor Studley.

 

Just like a dramatic closing argument, the ABA Litigation Section wrapped its annual conference memorably on Friday with a keynote address by Justice Sam Alito. He was introduced by section Chair Judith Miller, GC at Bechtel and a former Williams & Connolly partner. She was also Justice Alito's classmate at Yale Law, where she cracked that the honored guest distinguished himself by never leaving the library.

 

Justice Alito gave a mini-dissertation on American ethics codes over the last 100 years. We learned that the ABA developed the first formal one, the 1908 Canon, as a response to a 1905 speech in which Teddy Roosevelt dissed trial lawyers. (Check the Bisnow archives of that year for coverage.) Today, versions of the original Canon are used in 44 states and DC.

 

Another Yale grad—WaPo columnist Dana Milbank—discussed his book Homo Politicus, a satirical anthropological study of DC politicos. Milbank says the species engages in a number of rituals associated with primitive cultures, like human sacrifice (Scooter Libby) and blood-curdling yells (Howard Dean). Dana spoke at a lunch where the John Minor Wisdom Awards for Public Service and Professionalism were bestowed—one of them going to local DLA Piper associate Jared Genser.

 

The ABA also held a "2008 Election Summit" on Friday to discuss prospects for individual rights over the next four years. 2009 ABA Prez-apparent Carolyn Lamm introduced a plenary panel featuring NAACP Legal Defense Fund head John Payton. You may know John from WilmerHale, where he defended the University of Michigan's admission policies in the Supreme Court's landmark Bollinger cases. He noted that despite an "energizing" primary season, many issues aren't getting discussed—like astronomical high school dropout rates. (42% in DC and 55% in NY, according to research from Colin Powell's America Promise Alliance.) Carolyn's off to Singapore, where she'll represent the Philippines in an ICC arbitration over an airport contract.

 

Exec Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Barbara Arnwine, framed by Past Chair of the Individual Rights section Bob Stein and President of the National Conference of Bar Presidents (that's so meta) Kay Hodge, told of her organization's Election Protection initiative, which mobilizes attorney volunteers to handle polling-site issues and staff a 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. She's looking to conscript 10,000 volunteers between now and November—no wonder she calls it "mega pro-bono"!

 
 
 
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