As co-president of Greenberg Traurig, Hilarie Bass is a corporate litigator who also leads the prestigious American Bar Association.
Tell us about the firm. “Greenberg Traurig was founded in Miami in 1967. I started here as a summer associate, where I was mentored by one of the firm’s founders, Mel Greenberg. Today we have more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.”
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Why is now an important time to be ABA President? “It’s an exciting time to lead the world’s largest voluntary professional organization, which has more than 400,000 members. Since taking over in August, I have visited six continents, 14 countries, and more than 45 cities around the world. What I hear most often is how lawyers are more important than ever to protecting our democracy and maintaining the rule of law.”
What are some of the initiatives you are focusing on during your term? “1. Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law. We are studying why women leave the profession and planning to make recommendations on how to retain women lawyers throughout their careers. 2. The Future of Legal Education. Our Commission has brought together leading experts to examine how to best educate the next generation of lawyers. 3. ABA Legal Fact Check. Under my leadership, the ABA has expanded its commitment to public education through the establishment of a nonpartisan fact-checking site. 4. Legal Needs of Homeless Youth. The ABA has launched a nationwide initiative to provide free legal assistance to the more 500,000 homeless youth in the U.S.”
What is the best part about practicing law in South Florida? “As someone who has spent my career in South Florida, what has been so rewarding is having unlimited opportunities to grow as a leader both at my firm and in the community. An individual’s ability to advance in South Florida is only limited by one’s dedication and willingness to work hard. Miami has always been a dynamic, growing city where achieving anything is possible.”
Tell us about the cases where you feel you have made the most impact. “Among the hundreds of cases that I have been involved in as a litigator, two that I am most proud of are my work as lead counsel for the Homebuilder Group Committee in the Chinese Drywall MDL, one of the largest construction defect cases in U.S. history, and my pro bono work representing Frank Martin Gill’s two foster children. In the pro bono case, I led the team that successfully overturned the Florida law prohibiting gay adoption. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have changed the course of so many lives by eliminating a grave injustice in society. Even today, complete strangers thank me for making it possible for them to adopt.”
Greenberg Traurig, 333 Southeast Second Avenue, Suite 4400, Miami; 305-579-0500; gtlaw.com; @HilarieBass, @ABAPresident.