Friday, March 18, 2005

On attending the Bar Leaders Institute

So, I went to the BLI, saw many of my friends among the bar, and listened to the speeches and presentations.

Most memorable were the comments of Steven Benjamin and also Steve Stephenson. Steven Benjamin, among his many cases, was the lawyer for the defendant in the Hicks case, that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He spoke powerfully in challenging everyone there to each one act according to his abilities to see the end of the caps on lawyer fees for representing the poor in criminal cases in Virginia.

Steve Stephenson told it like it is for how the practice of law has changed for some country lawyers, in some ways not for the better, or not any easier - especially without high-speed internet connections. He began by explaining that anyone expecting a semi-retired Supreme Court justice would be disappointed to find that the after-lunch speaker was his semi-retarded son (speaking of himself),

The town meeting aspect of the conference was fairly tame. It might have worked better if the questions were written like they do at the National Press Club luncheons you see on C-SPAN. Chief Justice Hassell deserves credit for his participation in this event and his willingness to give direct answers to questions about various problems, some of which are obviously beyond his power to remedy. As at last year's 30th Circuit conference, he stayed as long as there was anyone who wished to speak with him, shook every hand, and posed for pictures.

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