Stephen Zack takes official post as ABA president

Carolyn Lamm officially passed the gavel to incoming ABA President Stephen Zack Aug. 9 during the 2010 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Lamm, the former ABA president, told the House of Delegates that Zack was an “incomparable advocate and strategist.”

During his speech, the Miami, Fla.-attorney and first Hispanic American ABA president recalled being a 14-year old in 1961 when he and his family were detained while fleeing Cuba. Separated from his family in his own cell, Zack explained that, “The last thing I could have imagined then was a day like today.”

High on his list of priorities are preservation of the justice system, civic education, protecting human rights and preparing for disaster.

“We are fighting for rule of law around the world, but we are in danger of losing it here,” he said in his speech. “The financial crisis in America has been devastating to our judicial system, with 80 percent of this nation’s poor people not being able to afford a lawyer.”

Zack introduced his Committee on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, reminding delegates that the United States is a nation of immigrants.

“Our basic freedoms are based on the principle that the minority is protected from the tyranny of the majority,” he said.

Zack also encouraged the members of the House of Delegates, and indeed all lawyers, to be prepared for future disasters, including the possibility of a man-made disaster.

“In conclusion, let us remember. History has taught us that we can have liberty and justice, or neither, for there is nothing in between. In America no man is above the law.  No one is beneath its protection,” Zack said.