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    February 19, 2008  
 
 

WASHINGTONIAN
SET TO LEAD ABA


Join us for lunch with two of America's top General Counsels: Ed Ryan of Marriott and Beth Wilkinson of Fannie Mae. Wed, Mar 5, at the delicious Il Mulino in DC. Sign up here. Special thanks to great sponsors Studley, Gilbert Randolph, and The Lansburgh.

 

Okay, so maybe President's Day wasn't named for White & Case's Carolyn Lamm, but we'll use the motif to celebrate her nomination last week to head the American Bar Association. You'd think Type A Washington lawyers would make commonplace presidential timber, but actually DC hasn't produced an ABA head for 50 years. It was set in motion at the ABA's mid-year meeting in LA:  A 67-person nominating committee made her its choice, with ratification as prez-elect expected this summer by the 520-member House of Delegates. She'd begin her one year term in August 2009.

 
 

We met up with Carolyn in her DC office Friday to hear the tale. (Behind her:  a Garuda design in batik she picked up in one of many trips to Jakarta; she's represented the government of Indonesia in big financial disputes since 1983.)  Formally proposed by Marna Tucker, first woman president of the DC bar, she won on the first ballot over opponents Jim Silkenat of NY and Paul Moxley of Utah. The finale was somewhat dramatic: 34 votes were needed, and as votes were counted it reached the point where Carolyn had 33 to 22 for Silkenet and eight for Moxley. There were four pieces of paper left: The first one was for Moxley, the next two for Moxley.and the last one for Carolyn.         

 
 

Carolyn campaigned for the last year, speaking at dozens of legal events across the country—state and local bars and ABA sections, even a couple times out to something called the Jack Rabbitt bar (representing states like Wyoming and Montana).  Her platform?  Increasing membership from the current 413,000 to more like half a million; 450k has been the ABA's peak to date. One out of two lawyers used to be belong, now it's more like one of three. She'd like to set up task forces on different segments of the profession, eg, public interest, big firm, in-house, solo, and government lawyers, and figure out how to bring greater relevance and value to each.  And she wants to encourage diversity, not just by race and gender, but also by age. She feels (and new ABA policy concurs) it's wrong for firms to have age 65 cutoffs. 

 
 
Originally from Buffalo, Carolyn came to DC in the honors program at the Justice Depratment, worked as a trial attorney in the fraud section of the civil division, and joined the ABA in '76.  She chaired the Federal Bar's Young Lawyers division '82-83, was active in the litigation section, served as president of the DC bar in '97-98, then was on the ABA Board of Governors, chairing the operations committee which put her on the executive committee. She's been with White & Case since 1980. Current ABA president is Bill Neukom, the former EVP and general counsel of Microsoft.
 
 
 
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