Today’s session of the ABA Equal Justice Conference was exhilarating and informative—and even included protestors. More on all that in an upcoming story, but for now, here are some photos from a few of the day’s speakers.

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And here is the morning keynote speech delivered by Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey.

Immigration and its discontents still seem to be driving, well, everything here in Arizona.

ABA President Carolyn Lamm: What should we ask her?

As we reported last week, a prominent conference was just the latest victim of the SB1070 juggernaut, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The conference is to be co-sponsored by the American Bar Association. Called the Equal Justice Conference, it’s scheduled for May 13-15.

Despite strong pressure to move the conference to another state, the ABA opted to stay put (though a co-sponsor, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, did jump ship; read their statement here).

But the state law has led to what may be one of the more remarkable conference mission statements I’ve ever read. On the conference home page, the ABA’s Committee Counsel, Steven B. Scudder, explains some of the tightrope the ABA is walking. He quotes a speaker who explains, “Isn’t that what we learned from the civil rights era, that engaging is often better than boycotting?”

Hmmm. Maybe. I guess. Read the complete statement here.

He then goes on to describe generally changes that the ABA is making in the program to allow attendees to hear about and converse on the Arizona legislation.

We’ll be at the conference on Thursday and Friday. There, we’ll see how the ABA adjusted its programming. And we’ll also hear from keynote speaker Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer Prize winner who will speak on, among other things, immigration.

Also attending the conference will be ABA President Carolyn Lamm. We’ll have the opportunity speak with her: What should we ask? Post your suggestions, or send them to the editor at

Also be sure to tweet about the conference (or follow the postings) on Twitter (hashtag #ejcaz)

In the meantime, you can read the full conference program here.

How quickly a news story is kindled, springs into flame—and then dies.

ABA President Carolyn Lamm

That was the case today on the question of whether the American Bar Association would move a key conference out of Phoenix, Arizona, this coming week.

The cause of the hubbub was Arizona’s recently enacted SB1070, which ratcheted up the immigration debate. Supporters and detractors have lined up to hurl kisses and brickbats.

The ABA opted for brickbats. Last Friday, April 30, ABA President Carolyn Lamm issued a statement opposing the recently passed Arizona immigration law. It staked out a pretty strong position. You can read the whole thing here.

Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs

But maybe they began to regret their full-throated denunciation. After all, the ABA does a lot of business here in one of the sunniest, most resort-rich states of the country. And by the weekend after the ABA’s press release, an anomaly was noted.

The national association of lawyers was slated to host its annual Equal Justice Conference in Phoenix. It’s scheduled for May 13-15.

As the media noted, pressure was mounting for the ABA to move the conference to a more immigration-friendly venue.

Of course, the ABA has a lawyer or two itself, and they know from hotel and conference contracts and registrations. Canceling now? Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Sonia Nazario

Well, it took all of four days for the ABA to clarify its message.

This afternoon, it said “Nothin’ to see here, folks,” and declared that they were still heading west next week.

Who can blame them? Sun, pools and prepaid registrations are hard to pass up.

But one aspect of the conference may prove to be more ironic than a burrito in the Arizona Legislature.

The keynote address will be delivered by Sonia Nazario, a former writer at The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times and a board member of a child advocacy organization. But she’s also the author of the book Enrique’s Journey, the story of a Honduran boy’s search to find his mother in the United States.

Hope he has his papers.

We’ll be attending Nazario’s keynote address at the opening plenary on Thursday, May 13. We’ll let you know what she says.

For more on the conference—documented or not—click here.