Annual Conference 2004 to feature renowned advocate Marian Wright Edelman

Issue November 2003 By Abigail Shaine

You may think that it is too early to be thinking about the Annual Conference. But it isn't. Indeed, President Van Nostrand, the volunteers who put on the programs and MBA staff have been working hard on the programming for several months. This year's conference is entitled "Leading Through Law." Mark your calendars - the conference will take place from Jan. 22-24, 2004, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

This year's conference will feature some fabulous speakers.

We are pleased to announce the keynote speaker at the Gala Dinner will be the renowned Marian Wright Edelman. Founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), Edelman has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life.

Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families. Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-'60s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss. In l968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. Edelman served on the Spelman College's Board of Trustees, which she chaired from 1976-87 and was the first woman elected by alumni as a member of the Yale University Corporation on which she served from 1971-77.

Edelman has received many honorary degrees and awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings.

This year's Access to Justice Awards Luncheon will once again be cosponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation. The featured speaker at that luncheon will be Professor David Cole of the Georgetown University Law Center. Cole is also a volunteer staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he has argued cases including Texas v. Johnson and National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley before the U.S. Supreme Court, and defended dozens of immigrants charged with being everything from "national security threats" to "advocates of world communism." He is also legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," a columnist for Legal Times, co-author of Terrorism and the Constitution, and author of No Equal Justice, which was named Best Nonfiction Book of 1999 by the Boston Book Review and best book on an issue of national policy in 1999 by the American Political Science Association. Cole recently was named one of the top 45 public sector lawyers under 45 by American Lawyer.

This year's conference also will feature a plenary speaker on Friday morning. Charles Robinson, a practicing attorney in Florida, frequently speaks and writes about the future of the practice of law. President Van Nostrand and I recently heard him speak at the conference for the National Association of Bar Presidents. We both thought he had a message that is important for our members to hear, so we invited him to come speak to you. Robinson, who received the Judge E. Earl Zehmer Award from the Florida Bar for contributions to legal technology exemplifying commitment to bring the legal profession into the Information Age, has given numerous speeches throughout the country on this topic. We believe he will give a thought provoking presentation.

So don't delay. Registration forms will be in the mail before you know it. Register by Dec. 31 and receive an early registration discount. And I'll share more about the conference next month.