JUDGES, ACADEMICS AND PRACTICING LAWYERS GATHER FOR YEARLY CONFERENCE
The 2010 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference took place last week in Maui, Hawaii with United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as the keynote speaker. The Ninth Circuit holds a judicial conference every year in one of its districts — Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon or Washington. (The Ninth Circuit also includes Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.) I was privileged to serve as a Lawyer Representative of the Central District of California from 2004 through 2008, attending conferences in Spokane, Washington, Huntington Beach, California and Honolulu, Hawaii. This year, I was invited as an “ex officio” Lawyer Representative.
After the jump, I’ll share some thoughts about the conference and its importance to the legal profession.
THROWBACK TO SMALLER, MORE CLOSELY-KNIT LEGAL COMMUNITY
Justice Kennedy commented on the important work that is done at the conference. He was likely focused on the business meetings that help shape how the courts in the Ninth Circuit try to do justice and the gathering of the three major aspects of the legal community — judges, lawyers and law school professors. For example, judges and lawyers participated in an open forum — discussing various issues affecting the administration of justice and how courts and lawyers could better improve performance. Panel discussions included more efficient legal representation and the effect that the economy has on how law firms staff and represent clients.
However, in my opinion, the judicial conference provides a tremendous opportunity for social interactions among judges, lawyers and professors — particularly for those who practice in a large, diverse jurisdiction like Los Angeles. Back in the day, as I’ve been told, the legal profession was more cohesive. Everyone knew everyone else — even in Los Angeles. With the growth of the legal community, that’s hardly the case any more. We’re lucky to remain friendly with opposing lawyers — or appear before a judge enough to “know” them (and be known by them) on sight. Accordingly, judicial conferences which allow these now disparate elements of the legal community to interact is helpful to recreate the kind of close, professional relationships that are hard to develop today.
This is a good thing. And I am — and will always be — honored to participate.