MIAMI, Aug. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Hilarie Bass, co-president of global law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, today assumed the prestigious role of president of the American Bar Association (ABA) at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York. She will serve a one-year term, through August, 2018, during which she will work to further the organization's mission of defending liberty and delivering justice for all.
Speaking at the ABA Annual Meeting, Bass highlighted her priorities for the organization whose 400,000 members make it the world's largest voluntary professional organization.
"Never before has there been a more urgent need for the American Bar Association to lead the way toward needed changes in the profession and to educate our citizens about the rule of law," Bass said. "As I begin my year as ABA president, my passion for our justice system and connecting individuals with legal services will drive my efforts to bring together a diverse group to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We will focus on issues that go to the core of our profession: how we provide access to justice, educate law students, and serve our clients."
Specifically, in her year as president, Bass will focus on issues involving the future of legal education, the legal needs of homeless youth both in the United States and worldwide, and the precipitous exodus of experienced female lawyers from many firms. She also will institute an ABA Legal Fact Check service to help answer legal questions in the news.
Under Bass' direction, the ABA has created a new 10-member Commission on the Future of Legal Education to help lead the discussion of how the nation educates future lawyers. It will study issues such as the bar exam and passage rates, the length of law school, alternative teaching methods, and more.
"If we as a profession want to guarantee that the best and the brightest will continue to join us, we must ensure that their training and testing to become lawyers will be relevant, appropriate, and truly based on their competency to provide accurate and appropriate legal advice," Bass said. "The ABA is uniquely positioned to work with the important stakeholders to explore possible changes that could transform legal education."
The Legal Rights of Homeless Youth Initiative will have an international and domestic component. In the U.S., more than 500,000 homeless children need access to lawyers who can remove the legal barriers that prevent these youth from getting the education, employment, housing, health care, identification, and other services that could transform their lives. But of the more than 350 shelters in the U.S. that serve homeless children, few have access to pro bono legal services. The ABA project will train volunteer lawyers to provide legal assistance to children in the shelters and match lawyers from across the country with shelters to provide free legal assistance.
Internationally, the ABA plans to convene a summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil in Nov. 2017 with organizations from across the globe to exchange ideas and information on how to best fulfill the obligations laid out by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"The problem of homeless youth cannot be solved overnight, but it must be addressed," Bass said. "By bringing together some of the leading experts at the Brazil summit, we hope that together these great minds can take on this global challenge. At home, our dedicated lawyers extending a helping hand to these children will certainly change the trajectory of their lives."
The ABA also will address the issue of women lawyers leaving law firms in its Achieving Long Term Careers for Women in Law initiative. While women are for the first time this year matriculating at a higher percentage in law schools than men, preliminary research reveals that the most experienced women are leaving the profession in their 40s and 50s. By the age of 50, women may comprise just about a quarter of the profession. To gain an understanding about the career dynamics of women lawyers, the ABA is co-sponsoring a research project with the American Bar Foundation on the career trajectories of women lawyers. In November, the ABA will co-sponsor a first-of-its-kind summit with Harvard Law School examining potential solutions for the long-term retention and advancement of women in law.
"This is a huge loss of talent and expertise to the legal profession and to our justice system that we cannot afford. We need to understand why so many women lawyers are leaving when their experience is at its peak and they should be reaching the highest levels of leadership positions," Bass said. "We cannot rest until we have done everything we can to ensure that diverse attorneys – whatever their race, sexual orientation or gender – experience a law profession that is as hospitable to them as it is to everyone else."
With ABA Legal Fact Check, the goal is to operate a fact-checking service that focuses on the law and legal matters. The ABA will work with a panel of legal experts to develop dependable answers to legal questions that emerge in the public arena.
"In an era of alternative facts and fake news, the ABA should be the definitive source of real facts when it comes to the law," Bass said.
Bass serves as co-president and a member of the executive committee for Greenberg Traurig, a multi-practice firm that has approximately 2,000 attorneys across 38 offices worldwide. She previously served an eight-year term as national chair of the firm's 600-member litigation department. Bass is based in Miami.
She has been actively involved with the ABA for more than 30 years, beginning as a young lawyer and working her way up to become chair of the 70,000-member Section of Litigation (2010-11). As chair, Bass spearheaded the creation of a Task Force on Implicit Bias in the Justice System. She has held several other notable positions at the ABA, including serving as chair of the Committee on Rules and Calendar (2012-14).
The ABA presidency marks another lifetime achievement and testament to the success that Bass has attained throughout her career. A prolific trial attorney, Bass has successfully represented high-profile corporate clients in jury and non-jury trials involving hundreds of millions of dollars in controversy. In recognition of that success, Bass was inducted in 2011 to the American College of Trial Lawyers. She has worked on and settled more than 100 cases, tried more than 20 cases to conclusion and argued numerous appeals. Among her significant cases, Bass led the effort to eliminate Florida's 20-year-old ban on gay adoption, which was found unconstitutional in 2010 and led to the state removing questions on sexual orientation from the adoption application.
Outside the firm, she has led many top legal and community organizations and received numerous awards and accolades. Among them, she is listed in "The Best Lawyers in America," "Who's Who Legal: Florida," and "Chambers USA." In recognition of her work, Bass has been honored with the Judge Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee (2017), Euromoney Legal Media Group's Outstanding Practitioner Award (2016), silver medallion from the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews (2011) and C. Clyde Atkins Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU in Florida (2009), among several other awards throughout her career.
Bass serves as Vice Chair of University of Miami's Board of Trustees. She was formerly Chair of the United Way of Miami-Dade County and a president of the Florida Bar Foundation (1994-95).
Bass earned her law degree at University of Miami School of Law and her bachelor's degree at George Washington University.
About Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GTLaw) has more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and is celebrating its 50th anniversary. One firm worldwide, GTLaw has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, was named the largest firm in the U.S. by Law360 in 2017, and among the Top 20 on the 2016 Am Law Global 100. Web: www.gtlaw.com Twitter: @GT_Law.
SOURCE Greenberg Traurig