More work needed to protect equal rights, say Margaret Brent Award honorees

Despite progress on many fronts for women in the legal profession, the still-steep path to equality was a recurring theme at the annual Margaret Brent Lawyers of Achievement Awards Luncheon at the ABA Annual Meeting. At the 24th annual presentations Sunday in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, evidence of gains being lost added urgency to the mission. The Margaret Brent Awards honor women who overcame significant hurdles in pursuing legal careers or who brought positive change that affected many others. And yet, ABA President James Silkenat said at the luncheon’s outset, “many are still making hard choices between professional success and personal fulfillment.” For example, award recipient Nancy Gertner, who retired from the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts bench three years ago, told the luncheon crowd of hundreds, “I left a job that I loved, as a judge, so that I could speak.”

‘We shouldn’t treat shootings like … natural disasters,’ ABA President Silkenat says

Two days before his term as ABA president comes to an end, James R. Silkenat made one more impassioned plea for action by the legal profession and other groups to address the continuing epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the right of individuals to own guns is protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution, the gun rights jurisprudence of the court still is developing, said Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe, especially on the issue of regulating how guns are manufactured and sold. But despite ruling on the broad meaning of the Second Amendment, the justices have largely left more specific issues of gun ownership for the lower courts to hash out. “Inevitably, they have reached conflicting decisions,” he said.

Children’s Bridge celebrates amid a changing adoption landscape

…There are various reasons why international adoption is changing rapidly, including the embrace of The Hague Protocol and, in some parts of the world, a backlash to international adoption. Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who is director of its child advocacy program, said some charities have played a role in declining international adoptions by lobbying developing countries to stop allowing international adoptions, saying the children are better off in their own countries. Bartholet disagrees. “If you look overall at the kids placed, overwhelmingly they do really well and end up with really good, loving and nurturing parents.” The alternative, she added, is often institutionalization, which is bad for children.

Westmoreland ganja farmers petition PM

The Westmoreland Hemp & Ganja Farmers Association has published a petition requesting that Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller free the parish from the ganja laws in the form of an authoritative “non-enforcement declaration” from Cabinet, which will allow the association to grow and trade, within the parish, free from prosecution. The petition, which was submitted by Triston Thompson, Paul Burke, Delano Seiveright and Fern and Charles Nesson, Harvard law professor, said the issuance of the prospective declaration of non-enforcement of ganja laws in Westmoreland would allow the association to “exemplify for all the parishes of Jamaica the responsible integration of cannabis culture into Jamaican society”.

Andrew Crespo ’08 to join Harvard Law School Faculty

Andrew Manuel Crespo ’08, an expert in criminal law and criminal justice, will join the faculty of Harvard Law School in 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Law. Crespo is currently a staff attorney in the Trial Division of the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where he represents defendants in jury trials and other proceedings in the criminal process, and also assists in the training of other criminal defense attorneys.

Bill aims to help sellers of foreclosure homes

Qiong Dai and her husband had an offer on their Southborough home and were ready to move into their new place in Wellesley when the sale collapsed two weeks ago. The problem: They had purchased their Southborough Colonial in a foreclosure sale in 2007, and the title to it was among the hundreds in Massachusetts muddied because of sloppy paperwork by previous lenders. That made the house hard to sell now…“Three years strikes me as a very short period of time,” said Max Weinstein, who works at the Jamaica Plain-based Legal Services Center, a Harvard Law School group that helps low-income clients. Weinstein said he fears that lenders will just keep troubled homeowners in limbo for three years — easily done, given the amount of time it takes to work through the foreclosure process — until the time to sue for the title expires.

Great for the Tea Party, bad for the people: How the 1 percent conquered Internet activism

Ten years ago, many political activists had high hopes for the Internet…From the world of academia, Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler argued that the Internet had enabled the rise of a new “networked public sphere” that was more open to diverse voices and less driven by big money, and that this new media system would nurture a politics that was more small-d democratic. Over the years, Benkler has pointed to a series of Net-driven successes, including the 2004 blogger-led boycott of Sinclair Broadcasting, the Diebold voting machine scandal, the many revelations published by WikiLeaks, and the grass-roots defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) as proof of this power shift.

Meet the First Woman to Run a Major U.S. Pro Sports Union

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about breaking a glass ceiling,” says Michele Roberts, the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). She went ahead and shattered one anyway…“As a trial lawyer, you have to clarify minds, and change minds,” says Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, who recruited Roberts to the public defender’s office. “She does the homework, and understands the arguments that need to be made. There won’t be a time when someone across the bargaining table doesn’t say, ‘Wow, I learned something.’”

The New SuperPAC That Spends Big So That Others Spend Less

A new SuperPAC aims to reduce the influence of big money in politics — and it’s starting by raising millions of dollars, in part from wealthy donors…Lawrence Lessig: In 2016, we want to raise a substantially larger amount of money – could be 200 million, could be 800 million – so that we can win a Congress committed to fundamental reform in the way campaigns are funded.