(Atlanta, Georgia / August 9, 2016) Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, became president of the American Bar Association today at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. She will serve a one-year term ending in August 2017.
"It is an honor and privilege to lead this great association. I have dedicated my career to the law and the legal profession. As president of the ABA, I will continue the Association's work to advance justice throughout our country," Ms. Klein said.
During her term as president, Ms. Klein will focus on improving access to justice and providing legal assistance for our nation's veterans. The new ABA Commission on Veterans' Legal Services will create a comprehensive online resource to address legal needs specific to veterans and their families, highlighting relevant local resources for assistance. The commission will also work with law schools and bar associations to improve the availability of affordable legal services through the use of new and under-employed lawyers and with Veterans Administration medical facilities to promote legal check-ups for veterans, their families and caregivers.
She will also emphasize two civic initiatives: one that mobilizes ABA resources to promote voting in the upcoming elections and another that will support the rights of all children to a quality education.
Before being chosen as ABA president-elect in 2015, Ms. Klein served as chair of the ABA's House of Delegates, the second-highest elected office in the organization, from 2010 to 2012. She has also served as chair of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, chair of the Committee on Rules and Calendar of the House of Delegates, chair of the Coalition for Justice and chair of ABA Day, the Association's Congressional outreach effort.
Ms. Klein's practice includes most types of business dispute resolution, including contract law, employment law and professional liability, working extensively with clients in the construction, higher education and pharmaceutical industries.
In June 1997, Ms. Klein became the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Georgia. During her term, she devised a proposal and advocated for the state to allocate funding for Georgia Legal Services and Atlanta Legal Aid to hire lawyers to help indigent victims of domestic violence. She organized a statewide group of community organizations and local and minority bar associations that together convinced the General Assembly to appropriate $2 million. Since then, the annual appropriations have helped thousands in Georgia with legal issues related to domestic violence.
Ms. Klein was one of the first women to lead a prominent Georgia law firm. She served as managing partner of Gambrell & Stolz beginning in 2001 and led the firm's 2007 merger with Baker Donelson, becoming a Baker Donelson board member and Georgia managing shareholder.
The State Bar of Georgia has recognized Ms. Klein with the Randolph Thrower Award for Lifetime Achievement in Diversity (2009) and the Distinguished Service Award (2015), the highest honor bestowed by the State Bar of Georgia. In 2004, the American Bar Association honored Ms. Klein with the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.
Ms. Klein is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Who's Who in America and Chambers USA. She is regularly named to the Super Lawyers top 100 lawyers in Georgia and among the top 50 female lawyers in Georgia by Super Lawyers. In 1998, Georgia Trend Magazine named her one of the 100 most powerful and influential Georgians.
Ms. Klein earned her J.D. at Washington & Lee Law School in Virginia and her B.A. at Union College in New York.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.