Alumna Deborah Enix-Ross Installed as New President of American Bar Association

Alumna Deborah Enix-Ross Installed as New President of American Bar Association

Frank A. Citera, J.D. ’83, Deborah Enix-Ross, J.D. '81 and B.A. '78, Hilarie Bass, J.D. '81, Edith G. Osman, JD ’83, and Dean David Yellen

By Catharine Skipp

Frank A. Citera, J.D. ’83, Deborah Enix-Ross, J.D. '81 and B.A. '78, Hilarie Bass, J.D. '81, Edith G. Osman, JD ’83, and Dean David Yellen

Alumna Deborah Enix-Ross Installed as New President of American Bar Association

By Catharine Skipp
The leading organization of lawyers in the U.S. has had only 11 women presidents in its 146-year history and the 1981 graduate is the third Miami Law woman to take the helm.

Recently retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer swore in Deborah Enix-Ross, J.D. '81 and B.A. '78, as president of the American Bar Association for the 2022-2023 term at their House of Delegates annual conference in Chicago in August. 

The American Bar Association is one of the world's largest voluntary professional organizations and the top legal organization with a stated duty to improve the profession. 

UM Celebrates Enix-Ross

The Miami Law Alumni Association applauded Enix-Ross’s installation as president with a celebration in Chicago. At the event, Frank A. Citera, J.D. ’83, National Advisory Council Chair welcomed attendees and Edith G. Osman, JD ’83, past president of The Florida Bar, Florida State Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates and Law Alumni Association member presented Enix-Ross with the Distinguished Alumna Award.

Upon accepting the award, Enix-Ross said, “I was mentored at the University of Miami…every step of the way I felt supported by my classmates and by the University. From the day that I stepped at Miami Law, I was determined to make the law school proud, and I hope that I have done that.“

 David Yellen, Dean of the University of Miami School of Law, attended the event and has expressed his esteem for Enix-Ross.

 “Deborah is a great choice to lead the ABA.  Her intellect, commitment and compassion will help guide the ABA in its wide-ranging and important work. As the third woman from Miami Law to head the ABA, she continues a great tradition of leadership."

Enix-Ross follows the footsteps of two other powerhouse, alumnae lawyers to lead the ABA – Carolyn Lamm, J.D. '73, was president from 2009-2010, and Hilarie Bass, J.D. '81, was the president from 2017-2018. The law school also has more alumni leading the legal profession with Gary Lesser, J.D. ’92 as president-elect of The Florida Bar and DeAnna Allen, J.D. ’96 as president of the board of directors of the National Association of Women Lawyers.

 Enix-Ross’s Plans for ABA

"I'm going to focus on civics, civility, and collaboration," Enix-Ross told Law360 in an interview. "We call these the cornerstones of democracy. We've established a cornerstones of democracy commission. 

"The idea is to take the ABA's resources, which are vast, and use them to promote civics education [and] civility, including having a toolkit that we can give to communities to help them as they navigate difficult conversations," she said. "And those conversations will be local because not every community has the same issues, but we see lots of communities having difficulty getting to resolution because you're so busy fighting that you can't think about ways to tackle a problem but do it in a way that will lead to solutions.

"So, these toolkits talk about how to organize these kinds of conversations. So that's the civility [aspect]. And the collaboration is not just within the ABA, which we certainly need, but it's with other professions, because the rule of law, while lawyers can lead on the rule of law, it is not our exclusive purview, nor should it be. We need to be partnering with other professions, including journalists, doctors, faith leaders [and] teachers, so that we can all move forward on civics and civil discourse," she said.

A storied career in international law

According to her bio, Enix-Ross is a senior adviser to the International Dispute Resolution Group of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, having joined the firm in 2002. She served as chair of the ABA's policymaking House of Delegates and as chair of the ABA Center for Human Rights. As chair of the ABA International Law Section, she co-founded the Women's Interest Network and worked with the International Bar Association to create its Women's Interest Group. She also led an international legal exchange delegation to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana, where she delivered an address commemorating the country's 50th anniversary of independence.

She is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and served as vice president of the World Justice Project, chair of the ABA Section Officers Conference, vice chair of the International Bar Association's Bar Issues Commission, and ABA representative to the IBA. She is a member of the American Law Institute.

Before Debevoise & Plimpton, she served as a senior legal officer with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center in Geneva, Switzerland. She also was a director of international litigation with Price Waterhouse and the American representative to the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration. She started her legal career with MFY Legal Services in New York City.

The U.S. Departments of Commerce and State appointed Enix-Ross as one of the original eight U.S. members of the trilateral NAFTA Advisory Committee on Private Commercial Disputes. She is a member of the advisory committee of the New York Law School Alternative Dispute Resolution Skills Program. She is also a former member of the advisory board of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Board of the International Law Institute, and the board of directors of the American Arbitration Association.

In addition to her UM credentials, she also received a diploma in comparative law from the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law of Columbia University and a certificate in international law from the London School of Economics.

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