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CHICAGO,  The role of cultural issues on court rulings, litigating workplace harassment claims, and findings and suggestions from the recent American Bar Association Diversity Summit are among key diversity-related issues that will be explored at the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting, July 30 – Aug. 4, in Chicago.


With more than 1,500 top-quality legal programs and events, and presentations by the foremost law experts and speakers, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the ABA Annual Meeting is the nation’s premier gathering of legal professionals.


The 555-member House of Delegates will meet on Aug. 3 and 4 in the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Ballroom, Gold Level, East Tower to consider policy recommendations and vote on resolutions.  During the Aug. 3 meeting, Holder will address the delegates and William H. Gates Sr., co-chair of the William and Melinda Gates Foundation, will receive the ABA Medal, the association's highest honor.


Among policies to be debated by the House is a plan to facilitate increased legal aid to persons facing crisis from the recession. Other proposals urge repeal of a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal marital benefits and protections to lawfully married same-sex spouses; and call on Congress to approve a national study of the state of criminal justice aiming to reduce crime and incarceration, save tax dollars, enhance fairness and increase public confidence in criminal justice. 

For details and updates on these and more than two dozen proposals for debate and vote by the House, check this site.


Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever.  Credential guidelines are at 


Diversity-related program highlights include:


 “’Lost in Translation?’: Cross Cultural Issues in the Courts”

Though often overlooked, cultural issues play a significant role in court rulings.  Panelists at this program will examine the consequences of invoking ones own cultural beliefs during a trial and whether immigrants should be held to the same standards. Audience members will be provided with handheld devices to vote on several vignettes drawn from real-life inspired and hypothetical situations.

Aug. 1, 8:30 – 10 a.m., Hyatt Regency ChicagoEast Tower, Lobby Level, Plaza Ballroom A


“Negotiating Agreements in a Cross-Cultural Setting—When Yes Might Mean No”

Panelists will lead a discussion on transacting business with persons of culturally diverse backgrounds. Deciphering body language—from handshakes to facial expressions to hand gestures—and interpreting phrases will be explored, among other nuances to consider when negotiating deal with diverse populations.

July 31, 8:30 – 10 a.m., Hyatt Regency ChicagoWest Tower, Gold Level, Acapulco


“Removing Cultural Bias in a Diverse Society”

Age. Race. Sexual Orientation—all are characteristics that make our society so diverse and unique. While diversity is accepted as the norm, many diverse peoples are still subject to discrimination, stereotyping and biases by other groups. A panel of culturally diverse legal professionals will explore both the legal and personal implications of cultural bias.

July 31, 11 a.m. – noon, Westin River North, River Level II, Promenade Ballroom C


ABA Diversity Summit: The Next Step?”

Legal professionals from around the nation recently convened at the ABA Diversity Summit to discuss the evolving goals and ever-expanding definition of diversity. Key stakeholders will present the Summit’s findings and suggestions for stimulating diversity based on this information during this interactive program.

July 31, 2 – 4 p.m., Hyatt Regency ChicagoEast Tower, Gold Level, Columbus Hall KL


Among other programs:


July 30


“Forum on Urgent Native American Issues”

9 – 11 a.m., 

131 South Dearborn Street
, 30th Floor


“The ‘Credit Crisis’ – How Compensation Practices Adversely Affect the Advancement of Women and Minorities in the Law, and How We Must Change Them”

10:30 – noon, Hyatt Regency Chicago, West Tower, Green Level, Crystal Ballroom A



July 31


“The Gay Bar: LGBT Attorneys in the Profession “

8:30 a.m. – noon, Intercontinental, Lobby Level, Seville Ballroom West


“Plumbing the Diversity Pipeline to the Legal Profession – Focus on Firms and Corporations”

8:30 – 10 a.m., Hyatt Regency ChicagoWest Tower, Green Level, Crystal Ballroom C


“Expansive New Developments in ADA and FMLA”

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., 

Westin Michigan Avenue
, 2nd Floor, Buckingham



Aug. 1


“Women in the Law: Past, Present and Future”

8 – 10 a.m., Sheraton Chicago, Level 4, Sheraton Ballroom I


“Being Prepared: A Lawyers Guide to Dealing with Disability and Unexpected Events”

8 – 10 a.m., Hyatt Regency ChicagoWest Tower, Gold Level, Acapulco


“The Murder of Vincent Chin”

8:30 – 10 a.m., Hyatt Regency ChicagoEast Tower, Gold Level, Columbus Hall IJ


During the Annual Meeting, a press room for working journalists will be set up at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Riverside Center, Purple Level, East Tower, and will be open for on-site media registration at 8 a.m. on July 30.  Thereafter the press room will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Aug. 4.


With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.



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