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5 Litig. Docket 1 (1999-2000)

handle is hein.journals/litigadoc5 and id is 1 raw text is: A PUBLICATION OF THE SECTION OF LITIGATION 9 AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION 9 FALL 1999 * VOLUME 5 NUMBER 1
We're a voice for trial lawyers, new chair says
by  R y D on ,Ei t r..........

T he new chair of the Section of
Litigation thinks one of the
group's most important jobs is
to be a voice for trial lawyers
T    ..    around the country.
Tommy Wells, 49, Birmingham, Ala., puts
it this way: The Section has often been
heard in the debate within the ABA, but I
don't think it has been as effectively heard
by the public as a whole. We need to be the
voice of the lawyer who tries cases in
American society.
But heard in what areas? To Wells, one of
the most important issues is judicial inde-
pendence, including the matter of how
judges get selected in the first place.
Elected or appointed? When you get into
the electoral process, you have to avoid the
appearance that justice can be bought and
paid for by campaign contributions. But
even the federal model of lifetime appoint-
ment is one of the most political processes
around in terms of how these nominees get
Other issues for the Section to continue
investigating so it can make its voice heard?
For Wells, that would be lawyers' ethics,
including the entire discussion about multi-
disciplinary practice. The independence of
lawyers, the attorney-client privilege issues,
are just rampant in that debate even though
the central matter is a little more mundane
- the rule that prohibits lawyers from
sharing fees with nonlawyers, Wells says.
Section members, of course, are often
most interested in issues that concern their
own day-to-day practice. To a large extent,
the new chair says, our members want
information. Most of them are members of
the Section in order to receive things that
make their practice a little easier.
Wells looks at a long-term goal in the

Tommy and Jan Wells
push to get more lawyers to join: I want to
focus our membership efforts at two mar-
kets: law students and lawyers who've been
in practice less than five years.
You could say that his target group is
composed of folks - OK, at least one
that Wells knows well: His own daughter is a
law student. Lynlee just finished her first
year at the University of Alabama School of
Law. Though some lawyers these days seem
to be less than thrilled with their profession,
Lynlee's dad is ecstatic that she is going
into law, because she made the decision
totally on her own. And she had some idea
(besides watching her dad) what the field
was about: She worked at a law firm when
she was an undergrad. So, as Wells puts it,
she went into it with her eyes open.
And the rest of the family? Mrs. Wells is
Jan, who once ran a pre-school but is now a

professional volunteer, as her husband
puts it. Son Trey is a junior at Wake Forest
University in North Carolina. Trey doesn't
have a clue what he wants to do when he
grows up, Wells says.
What about Wells the trial lawyer? After
all, he hasn't just spent his professional
career climbing the volunteer's ladder to the
top job in the ABA's Section of Litigation.
When asked about cases he's handled, it
only took a split second for the new chair to
bring up the matter of Chemical Waste
Management (a subsidiary of Waste
Management). Seems they had the world's
largest hazardous waste landfill, located in
Most members join
to get information
to make their
practice easier.
west Alabama. Wells says the case turned
him into a constitutional lawyer. When he
appeared before the Alabama Supreme
Court, the panel moved the oral argument
into a theater where 900 high school juniors
could watch the lawyers work.
Though he lost at that level, the U.S.
Supreme Court decided to take it on. And
that culminated in a twist of legal lore that

Wells relishes. When he won in the top
court, he contends that the length of time
from filing the complaint in state court to a
final decision in Washington  two years
and a day -  established a world land
speed record.
Since Wells' firm is quite experienced in
dealing with members who spend some
time in ABA work (both Asa Rountree and
Lee Cooper have also served as Section of
Litigation chairs - though Rountree was-
n't at the same firm when he was chair), it
should ease up a bit when he serves as chair
this year. He does, though, have to try a
case next month.
And spealdng of the ABA, what goes
around does seem to, well, you know. Wells
first dipped his toe into the national group in
1985 when he went on a Section tour of
Scotland and Ireland before going to the ABA
Annual Meeting in London. Well, guess where
the ABA is meeting next summer, near the
close of Wells' year. You're right. 12

Get your CLE by videoconference: Pick a subject

Once a month, from now 'til
January, you can dial up and
join other lawyers in a 90-
minute videoconference on
assorted legal issues that very
well could affect your practice.
The Section of Litigation is joining forces
with the Section of Business Law and the
ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education
to put on the series. A few other groups will
come aboard as the topic demands.
So what's going to be discussed? The list:
Nov. 18 - Confidentiality Agreements
in the M&A Process

Dec. 8 - Cash Balance Pension Plans (with
the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits)
Jan. 20 - Nuts and Bolts of E-Business
How will it work? These are live, with
interactive Q&A built in; those taking part
can see the presenters. It's done through
both videoconference and teleconference
technologies. Many law firms already have
at least some of the technology in place in
their conference rooms or simply over the
phone. Course materials are distributed
through fax on demand as well as the
ABA Web site. The technology for such pro-
grams has also been honed through five

programs earlier this year.
What's the target audience? In-house
counsel of major corporations and the
large, mid-sized and boutique firms that
serve them.
How do you get in on it? You can register by
individual or group discount. MCLE accredita-
tion is available in those states that allow
videoconference or teleconference credits.
The programs will be held at 1 p.m. East-
ern time. For more information, call Alison
Compton, ABA-CLE seminar assistant, at
312/988-6218. It also works to e-mail at
comptona@staff.abanet.org. Imi

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