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ABA Delegates' Meeting Goes Digital

As the American Bar Association wrapped up its midyear meeting, its House of Delegates, its policy-making body, met into the late afternoon yesterday debating a host of critical legal issues. Even though the meeting was in my home base of Boston, I wasn't there in person. But I almost felt like I was, given the gavel-to-gavel webcasting, live-blogging and Twittering that went on from the meeting. Whereas the delegates' meetings once had the veiled feel of one of those secretive, sausage-making sessions no one is sure they really want to see, the august body has now gone fully digital and transparent.

The meeting may have crossed over into cyberspace, but the issues it took up were firmly grounded in the real world. By day's end, the delegates had adopted nearly three-dozen measures. A complete list of the measures and the delegates' votes is on the ABA Web site. Among the measures they approved:

  • A measure urging the Obama administration to ensure that any detainees who are expected to be charged with crimes be prosecuted in federal district courts and be given all rights of habeas corpus with full due process.
  • A measure opposing the imposition of federal jurisdiction over child custody cases involving members of the military and urging that military deployment not be the sole reason to deny child custody.
  • A measure to help ensure access to justice and due process for those charged with civil immigration violations.
  • A measure to amend the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct to permit law firms to screen lateral hires so that conflicts of interest are not imputed to all lawyers at the hiring firm.

For the first time, the ABA broadcast a live webcast of the delegates' meeting. The entire webcast was archived and remains available for viewing here. The ABA also recorded other audio and video highlights from the midyear meeting, which can be seen and heard at this page.

As the delegates were meeting, reporters and editors from the ABA Journal were sending out regular news dispatches of the day's developments. They were also sending out those dispatches and other brief updates throughout the day via Twitter. They were not alone in tweeting the meeting. Daniel A. Schwartz, the Connecticut lawyer who writes Connecticut Employment Law Blog, live-tweeted the entire delegates' meeting via his TwitterBerry. And if all that was not enough coverage, the newspaper Lawyers USA live-blogged the entire meeting.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 17, 2009 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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