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As my presidency comes to a close, I am gratified to look back on the accomplishments of the past year. When I turn over the gavel to Robert J. Grey Jr., an African-American lawyer from Virginia, at the ABA Annual Meeting in Atlanta this month, he will continue on the path that was opened for me. In addition, Stephen Zack, a Cuban-American, will become the chair of the ABA House of Delegates and Armando Lasa Ferrer, a Latino-American from Puerto Rico, will become secretary-elect. Together we make a major statement about the American Bar Association’s commitment to provide opportunities for all members of our society. In today’s world, public confidence in our profession-and the justice system as a whole-is largely tied to whether law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and the judicial system reflect the full diversity of our society. In October, the Conference on Diversity, “Opening the Pipeline,” focused on the people who have the power to make the changes necessary to make the legal profession more diverse. Chief executive officers, general counsel of major corporations, law firm managing partners and chairpersons, deans of law schools, university and college presidents and the leaders of national, state and local bar associations gathered to discuss how to encourage more students of color in junior high and high school to consider the legal profession. This was especially appropriate in a year when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The ABA commission on the celebration of that anniversary developed programs and materials to commemorate this landmark decision and create an enduring collection of resources that will continue to educate Americans about Brown and its legacy in the years to come. It held an important event at Wayne State University Law School and partnered with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in an event that featured legal luminaries who discussed the impact of the Brown decision and that of Grutter v. Bollinger, which recognized that consideration of race in law school admissions decisions is allowable because diversity, in its own right, is a compelling state interest. Furthermore, tens of thousands of high school students around the country participated in a program entitled, “Dialogues on Brown v. Board of Education.” These events were followed in May by the “Managing Partner and General Counsel Leadership Summit: Progress, Success and Achievement for Women in Law,” which energized the business and legal communities to further improve the status of women in the profession and leverage the clout of women lawyers. A special emphasis was put on women lawyers of color, who often experience the “double bind” of race and gender. We met with chief executive officers of corporations who have initiated changes to achieve diversity at the highest levels, heard from general counsel who are determining what works and what does not, and collaborated with other managing partners to craft practices from these principles. One year ago at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his address to the opening assembly, asked the ABA to examine why this country imprisons more people than any other and why so many are minorities, and to examine sentencing guidelines and look into issues involving prison conditions. In response, I formed the Justice Kennedy Commission, which worked to determine what succeeds and what needs to be changed in our criminal justice system. It examined the following primary areas of attention: Whether the use of mandatory minimum sentencing at the state and federal levels is working; whether sentencing guidelines related to the recommended minimum sentences need to be revised; why more than 65% of the 2.1 million in American prisons are people of color; what the conditions of this country’s prisons are, and, if necessary, how they can be improved; why recidivism rates are so high and how to reduce them; and how the pardon and parole process is working at the state and federal levels. The commission held a series of hearings around the country, taking testimony on these issues from people directly involved in the criminal justice system. The final report is now complete, and the chair of the commission, Steve Saltzburg, and I presented it to Justice Kennedy in late June. Recommendations based on the report will come before the ABA House of Delegates at our annual meeting this month. Finally, I want to acknowledge the brave Americans who are serving our country in the military. Every day they make tremendous sacrifices to secure peace and stability so that our country may prevent and defend against terrorist attacks. Our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and elsewhere are giving a selfless commitment of service to our country, and we cannot do anything less than extend our greatest support-financially, morally and spiritually-for their continuing efforts both at home and abroad. Last August, I charged the ABA Working Group on Protecting the Rights of Service Members to look into the laws as they relate to our armed forces, to see what new legal protections might be needed for our men and women who are called to serve, leaving their friends, families, jobs and lives behind. The working group identified legal issues such as family support, child custody, housing concerns, employment rights and others. Its report will be presented to the annual meeting this month, and work on these issues and others will continue beyond my year as president. In the meantime, with our urging, Congress passed the Foreign and Armed Services Tax Fairness Act and the Service Members’ Civil Relief Act. I am proud of the work accomplished this year, and leave my presidential term knowing that the ABA is sound and the legal profession more respected. The ABA has continued to staunchly defend the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession, protect our citizens’ freedoms and work to improve the justice system. Dennis W. Archer is the outgoing president of the ABA. He is the chairman of Detroit’s Dickinson Wright.

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