• 3 Things to Learn From the 2018 ABA Meeting Happening in Chicago This Week

    POSTED July 30, 2018
  • 3 Things to Learn From the 2018 ABA Meeting Happening in Chicago This Week

    POSTED July 30, 2018

About 5,000 people are in Chicago this week for the 2018 annual meeting of the American Bar Association, headquartered at Hyatt Regency Chicago, taking place Aug. 2-7. The ABA hosts hundreds of conferences throughout the year focused on specific areas of practice (litigation, criminal, evidence, etc.), but this one is open to all entities and will include nearly 1,000 social functions, educational sessions and networking opportunities.

We sat down with Hilarie Bass, ABA’s Miami-based president and one of the most recognized female attorneys in the country, to learn about new initiatives the association is implementing at this year’s meeting.

The Forum
New this year, The Forum is a program developed with a focus on current news events and prominent speakers. Notably, Bass will lead a discussion on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. “One of my major initiatives this year has been women in the law and the progress we’ve made—specifically, why so many women in the law leave the profession,” says Bass. “[These issues] have been front and center in the ABA for more than 25 years.” Among the star-studded panel for this forum is Hon. M. Margaret McKeown, circuit judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; and Tina Chen, former chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama and co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

CLE in the City Series
Tested for the first time at the 2017 annual meeting, ABA’s CLE in the City Series is designed to take participants out of meeting rooms and into the offices of law firms around the city—a format that provides great networking opportunities as well as a chance to learn from Chicago’s legal community on eight different specialty tracks, from family law to legal writing. The ticketing for this series is also unique: Attendees can buy à la carte registration to attend one or several of these events without registering for the entire conference. Bass says the goal of this series, particularly marketed to Chicago lawyers, is to “bring in a significant number of new people who otherwise would not be attending an ABA conference because of the time commitment involved”—addressing a challenge many meeting planners face.

President’s Reception
Believe it or not, the lawyers will let loose to take part in a talent show during this event at the Chicago Cultural Center on Saturday night. “We have a large number of very talented lawyers,” says Bass, noting this is a first for this event. They’ll also be entertained by the big-band sound of the Chicago Catz, cabaret performances, improv theater and many local food vendors.


This fall, Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, known for its rich cultural diversity, will see the opening of the 98-room SOPHY Hyde Park. The hotel will now include Mesler, a restaurant whose name literally translates to “to mix and mingle.”


When the Chicago Architecture Center opens at its new home at 111 East Wacker Drive this August, the city will gain a new cultural destination—and event planners will gain a sparkling new venue to consider for events.

“The view of the river and prominent buildings at that corner is breathtaking,” says Deb Rodak, manager of group sales and business development for the 20,000-square-foot facility, situated above the dock for Chicago’s First Lady Cruises.


A Derby themed gala to commemorate Hotel Baker’s 90th anniversary was held on June 2, 2018. The invitation-only event was both a celebration an important milestone as well a tribute to the original owner Colonel Edward Baker, who opened the downtown St. Charles hotel on June 2, 1928.