November 13, 2017
On Nov. 9, Tulane welcomed ABA President Hilarie Bass, who spoke jointly to Tulane and Loyola Law School students.
Pictured here from left to right: Tulane Law Dean David Meyer, Louisiana Bar Association President Dona Renegar (L’92),
ABA President Hilarie Bass, Loyola Law Dean Madeleine Landrieu,
and the moderator of the event and Tulane Law alumna Judy Perry Martinez (L’82),
who practices law with Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn.
Association President Hilarie Bass didn’t envision herself at a big law firm
after she graduated.
“I did not grow up
around lawyers, or for that matter, people who had degrees,” she said.
And yet, 36 years
later, she remains at her very first law firm, Greenberg Traurig, which has
grown to become the largest firm in the United States, with 38 offices in 11
countries worldwide. A world-class litigator representing some of the most
high-profile clients in some of the nation’s largest-stakes class actions, Bass
has risen to lead the firm as co-president.
Bass visited Tulane
Law School on Nov. 9 to speak with Tulane and Loyola law students about the
important leadership roles lawyers play in society and in ensuring the
integrity of their own profession.
She decried recent
statements by the White House criticizing the U.S. justice system as a
“laughingstock,” and said that current events have in fact highlighted the
critical role lawyers play in safeguarding access to justice and the rule of
law. From volunteer lawyers greeting
arriving immigrants at the airport to state attorneys general going to court to
challenge the constitutionality of executive orders, she said that the
spotlight on lawyers has cast a positive light on the essential integrity of
the legal profession.
She observed that
the ABA was contributing to these efforts by recently establishing a new online
resource, ABA Legal Fact Checker , which allows the public to check
the veracity of claims made in public discourse about the law and legal system.
The program a
Q&A-style session moderated by Tulane Law alumna Judy Perry Martinez
(L’82), who practices law with Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New
Orleans. She was formerly Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer for
Northrop Grumman, the international aerospace company, and has held a
succession of senior leadership posts in the ABA.
Louisiana State Bar
Association President Dona Renegar (L ’92), a named partner in the
Lafayette-based litigation firm of Veazey, Felder & Renegar, joined in
emphasizing the importance of public service and pro bono work to the legal
her own experience as a student in Tulane Law School’s Juvenile Justice Clinic
as life-changing, and said the satisfaction of helping clients in need redirected
her own career ambitions toward legal services and public interest work.
Bass encouraged law
students to take active roles in pro bono work, in young lawyers’ organizations
and in the ABA, the 400,000-member organization she leads this year.
Bass discussed a
number of topics including the evolving legal profession, the impact of
technology on both education and litigation and the importance of pro bono
work. Bass is widely respected for her pro bono work on behalf of two foster
children that led to the end of Florida’s 20-year-old ban on adoption by gay
and lesbian parents.
“One of the things
I hear all the time from firms is that the most important thing to retain young
lawyers in firms is the availability of pro bono work,” Bass said.
She emphasized that
pro bono work helps young lawyers be perceived as leaders, which not only helps
advance careers but also “just makes you a better citizen.”
Bass attributes her
own success at her firm to leadership and mentoring – those around her
challenged her intellectually, brought her in on major decisions and encouraged
her to take on tough cases and grow as a young lawyer.
“For me it was
always about the gratification that the work I do is intellectually challenging
and helps, at its core, to solve a client problem,” Bass said.
Bass has mentored
young lawyers for years and has supported the ABA’s mission since she became an
attorney. She has lectured extensively
on rules of procedure and evidence, expert testimony, creditors' rights and
foreclosure issues, rainmaking, professionalism, and women lawyer issues.
“We’re honored to
host ABA President Bass at Tulane,” Meyer said, “and extremely proud that two
of our own, Judy Perry Martinez and Dona Renegar, are leading the national and
state bars in making a real difference for the profession and society.”