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An Interview with Linda Klein, Chair of the ABA’s House of Delegates

This week’s interview is with Linda Klein.  Linda is chair of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates and a managing shareholder with the law firm, Baker Donelson.

Describe your background.

As a child I was fortunate to have known all four of my grandparents.   Each of them taught me wonderful lessons.  Amazingly, while each of them told me different stories, all of the stories had a theme about the importance of respecting and helping others.  It is a proud legacy and I strive to live up to it daily.

Linda Klein

What is your academic/professional history?

I graduated from Union College and then Washington & Lee Law School.  I have practiced law in Atlanta, Georgia for 30 years.  My practice involves helping businesses prevent and solve disputes.  My clients often come from the construction and health care industries and include licensed professionals such as lawyers, engineers and doctors.  Since 2007 I have been part of a regional law firm, Baker Donelson.  It is a 125 year old law firm that, in addition to client service, has a rich history of pro bono and public service.  Former U.S. Senator Howard Baker is one of our colleagues.

 How would you describe your work with the American Bar Association (ABA) to other people?

I have been privileged to serve the ABA in many different roles.  Most recently, I served as Chair of the ABA’s House of Delegates, which is the 560-member congress of lawyers who set policy of the ABA.  The Chair of the House is the second ranking officer of the ABA.  In the past I have been Chair of a substantive law section of the ABA, the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, and Chair of the Association’s Coalition for Justice, a group that worked to educate the public about the importance of a fair and impartial justice system.  This year I am especially excited about my role as Chair of ABA Day.  This is the ABA’s annual non-partisan effort to bring lawyers from every state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to talk to their representatives primarily about the importance of providing civil legal services to the poor.  We also ask our legislators how we can help them do their jobs.  Like members of Congress, lawyers are called to service, and we take an oath to support the Constitution and our government.  Like members of Congress, lawyers also strive to promote greater understanding of how proposed rules and legislation will affect everyday life.   That is why lawyers are in a unique position to offer assistance to their representatives.  ABA Day, then, is the opportunity for Members of Congress to understand how the issues of concern to the legal profession affect congressional members’ constituents – both lawyers and the public they help.

 What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

I learned that when the liberated Afghanistan government needed a copy of their previous legal documents and legal history, the Law Library of Congress was one of the few, if not the only, place to find the needed materials.   How I learned this is especially important to me.  The American Bar Association has for 80 years had a committee that supports the Library and Law Library of Congress called the Standing  Committee on the Law Library of Congress.  Liz Medaglia is the hard-working  Chair of the Committee.  On behalf of the Committee, Liz brought a resolution to the ABA House of Delegates in support of funding for the Law Library.  The Resolution was so compelling that it was unanimously adopted by the House of Delegates.  This policy adds to others, enthusiastically supporting the work of the Library and the Law Library.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

That I like to watch Star Trek.

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