The Federal Bar Association’s Rising Professionals Symposium February 1-2, 2019 in Las Vegas is a conference overflowing with relevant and intriguing legal topics (see below) that are critical to the evolution of law and lawyers. Sign up now at www.fedbar.org/rps19.

POP CULTURE: How do people learn what lawyers and judges do? What are the ways the media frames criminal law cases to impact our knowledge of Miranda warnings, interrogations, cross-examinations in a criminal trial, and life at a law firm? For many Americans, their primary source of understanding about the legal system comes from television, movies, and popular novels, which are pop culture sources. In “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Law & Order, or Criminal Law for Everyone Else,” speaker Christian Grostic (Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio) explores how pop culture affects our views toward the criminal justice system; including search warrants, interrogations, and fifth amendment issues.

It may be the case that pop culture erodes the public’s ability to think critically about crime and indulges our desire for a scandalous sound bite over analytical reasoning. Popular culture is constantly sending messages – whether fictional or based in fact – about how criminal law works. At the Rising Professionals Symposium, engage in a compelling appraisal of the link between popular culture and criminal justice.

MEDICAL CANNABIS: There are high stakes when it comes to traversing the growing issue of medical cannabis in the workplace. Rapid changes to the legal status of cannabis raise new questions for employees and employers. “Medical Cannabis in the Workplace: What Protections Do Employees Have?” features Dustin Massie (Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP) addressing the legal challenges that come with contradictions and overlapping rules regarding federal and state medical cannabis laws and employer obligations to accommodate medical cannabis use.

Despite federal law’s continued criminalization of marijuana use – cannabis has been listed as an illegal Schedule I drug under federal law since Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 (CSA) – a growing number of states permit its medical use and some states provide explicit job protections. These conflicting legal positions present a number of challenges for employees and employers. Rising Professionals Symposium attendees will have the unique opportunity to investigate the latest developments in medical cannabis and employment law, including: 1) whether the CSA preempts state marijuana laws; 2) whether the Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees who legally use marijuana under state law; and 3) whether employees are protected against adverse employment actions because of their legal marijuana use.

DIVERSITY:  According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation. Other professional fields, including medicine, accounting, and engineering, do far better.  Minority lawyers now make up 16 percent of law firms but only 9 percent of law partners are people of color, according to figures collected by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.  “Why Our Profession is the Nation’s Least Diverse: Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession” features Sybil Dunlop (Greene Espel PLLP) discussing implicit bias, equal access to justice, diversity initiatives in the legal industry, and serving a diverse population.

Examples of the types of bias in the legal industry include discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, and disability. The legal profession must take the lead in how to address and overcome inequities emanating from bias in these areas. At the Rising Professionals Symposium gain insight on how we can solve this issue together to create a more diverse and inclusionary community.

Register today for the Rising Professionals Symposium at www.fedbar.org/rps19.


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.