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Patricia Lee Refo, Reginald M. Turner
Patricia Lee Refo (left) and Reginald M. Turner

Gavel passes to new president of ABA

Patricia Lee Refo became president of the American Bar Association on Aug. 4 at the end of the ABA Virtual Annual Meeting. In her remarks, Refo vowed to go “anywhere in the world to advance the fight for justice and the rule of law.”

The Phoenix litigator at Snell & Wilmer noted that in addition to upending “our communities and our lives,” the coronavirus pandemic “has also upended our practices, our courtrooms, our law schools — pretty much everything about what lawyers do and how we do it.” That disruption is creating a swell of legal needs, she said, in evictions, foreclosures, bankruptcies and domestic violence, among others.

Referring to “the twin evils of racism and unconscious bias” that have “prevented Black Americans from full participation in the promise of America,” Refo called on lawyers to “own the shortcomings throughout that system that disadvantage Black Americans, that build in barriers Black Americans must overcome that white Americans do not.” She included in this the “barriers inside our profession in our law firms and other practice settings ­— that unquestionably still exist and make it vastly harder for Black lawyers to thrive.  And for Black women lawyers, double hard.”

Refo succeeds Judy Perry Martinez of Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans.

Detroit litigator Reginald M. Turner was named president-elect of the ABA. He will serve a one-year term as president-elect before assuming the role of ABA president in August 2021.

Turner is a member of the Executive Committee, Government Policy Group, and Labor and Employment Practice Group of Clark Hill PLC in Detroit.

“Being a lawyer means conducting yourself with professionalism, service and honor,” Turner said. “As I assume a leadership role in the ABA, I will honor those values and fulfill the obligation to pursue access to justice, which is true justice.”

Turner has held several leadership roles in the ABA, including serving as the state delegate for Michigan in the ABA House of Delegates, and as chair of the ABA House of Delegates Rules & Calendar Committee, the Committee on Issues of Concern to the Profession, and the Committee on Credentials and Admissions.

This report includes information from the American Bar Association and Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

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