Protesters crash lawyers' conference in Phoenix

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PHOENIX -- While more and more cities and groups are announcing decisions to boycott Arizona over the controversial new anti-illegal-immigration bill, one group is going ahead with a long-planned meeting, much to the dismay of protesters.

It's the nation's largest gathering of Pro Bono attorneys. While the American Bar Association is still holding its Equal Justice Conference here in Phoenix, the organization said it has restructured the meeting's focus to cover Senate Bill 1070.

The ABA said that as a group it opposes the law. Speakers at the conference will explore questions raised by SB 1070, as well as the issues of intimidation and immigration reform.

Approximately 785 people were expected to attend the event, but some attendees and one of the co-sponsors pulled out after the signing of SB 1070 and the subsequent backlash. It's expected that 550 will actually attend the meeting, according to Rick DeBruhl with the State Bar of Arizona.

The slightly scaled-back ABA conference starts today and is scheduled to run through Saturday.

A group of protesters had said they would storm the conference and disrupt the meeting.They said the ABA members are not living up to their sworn oath as lawyers. Many of those protesters said they were prepared to be arrested if it came to that.