By NATALIE GAWDIAK
The Law Library of Congress has a long-standing tradition of commemorating the American Bar Association's annual Law Day observance on May 1. This year's event was carried out in two programs, the first sponsored by the Friends of the Law Library of Congress and the second under the auspices of the ABA and several other partner institutions.
This year's Law Day theme, set annually by the American Bar Association, was "Protecting the Best Interests of the Child." Laura Lederer, director of the Protection Project of the Foreign Policy Institute of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, gave a lecture on the growing worldwide problem of trafficking in human beings, focusing especially on the younger victims of this crime.
Ms. Lederer pointed out some areas of the world where trafficking has been particularly widespread and where brothels have thrived, with women and children forced into prostitution or, as Ms. Lederer calls it, "modern-day slavery." Citing one especially insidious instance, the speaker described a Russian trafficking operation disguised as a legitimate overseas employment agency. Applicants were given standard job interviews and experienced other aspects of a typical employment agency, only to be drugged, transported abroad, have their passports stolen and be told that their families back home would be put at risk if they refused to cooperate.
Rescuing these victims and encouraging them to testify to help bring these perpetrators to justice requires dedicated prosecutors and global legal cooperation, she noted.
During the evening event, the Law Library hosted a panel discussion on "The Lawyer as Reformer" in partnership with the American Bar Association Division on Public Education, the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. This program was the first of the five-part Leon Jaworski Public Program series "Representing the Lawyer in American Culture."
William S. Sessions, National Law Day Chair, introduced the panel moderator, Bernard Hibbitts, professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. The distinguished panelists included Maxwell Bloomfield, professor of history and law emeritus at the Columbus School of Law of Catholic University; Lani Guinier, a professor at Harvard Law School; and Ronald Rotunda, Albert Jenner Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Serving as moderator was Bernard Hibbitts, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
In his opening remarks, Law Librarian Rubens Medina noted the Law Library's longtime cooperative relationship with the ABA. He also pointed out the appropriateness of the evening's venue, as the Library's collections offer many representations of lawyers in American culture. Furthermore, he noted, "We feel it is important to devote one day to reflect upon the role of lawyers and what it means to serve the ideal of law as an instrument of justice… [especially] when globalization is a common theme across the planet, and when nations are seeking and hoping to find exemplary images of leadership.
"Exemplary leadership," he continued, "in the field of law gains significance in a world that appears to show a strong conviction that the rule of law, as a pillar of social justice and peace, is the best hope of humanity."
In response to the question "Who are the paradigms for the lawyer as reformer in American culture?" moderator Professor Hibbitts opened the evening's discussion by highlighting well-known and some lesser-known legal figures in a slide presentation of outstanding reformers. Among those featured were Clarence Darrow, John Doar, Nicholas Katzenbach, Thurgood Marshall, William Kunstler, Mark Lane, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirk Bloodworth, Barry Scheck, Mohandas Gandhi, James Meredith and Constance Motley.
The panelists engaged in lively debate and expressed varying opinions in response to such questions as "How specifically has legal reform been understood in the American context?" "What are its guiding principles and values?" "How has legal reform been understood and represented as expressing popular will, exercising reason or realizing justice?" "Do American law schools foster reform?" and "Where does the ‘lawyers' reform' take place (e.g., litigation, adjudication, legislation, public opinion and media, ethics, legal practice or technology)?" among others.
Future programs in this series will review the role of the American Lawyer as celebrity (Aug. 4, 2001), as judge (May 1, 2002), as rhetor and as citizen.
Ms. Gawdiak is a writer-editor in the Law Library.