Hank Greenberg to NYSBA House of Delegates: ‘This is Our Finest Hour’
The New York State Bar Association is meeting the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus public health emergency head-on, and continuing to provide top-quality services and support to our members and the legal profession.
That was the message from NYSBA President Hank Greenberg in his remarks to members during the association’s House of Delegates meeting on April 4, the first such meeting ever conducted via videoconference.
“Leaders and staff are working around the clock to help our members and the public,” Greenberg continued. “No bar association is providing more services or engaging in more effective advocacy for the betterment of the profession.
“To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is our finest hour,” Greenberg added.
Greenberg noted that NYSBA last June launched a “Virtual Bar Center,” a comprehensive overhaul of the association’s operating systems including a new and greatly enhanced website with state-of-the-art e-commerce technology.
This new digital platform, where attorneys across the street and around the world are just a click away on their computer or smart phone from accessing NYSBA’s services and benefits, “means that the association is well-positioned to support and assist our members,” said Greenberg.
Greenberg went on to note examples of the work being done by NYSBA to address the challenges presented for lawyers by COVID-19. NYSBA is:
- Providing timely updates through our comprehensive Coronavirus Information Center on our website.
- Disseminating a continuous stream of e-mail alerts, real-time posts on social media, original news stories and podcasts on issues relating the coronavirus.
- Offering a record number of online CLE programs and webinars that address the unique legal issues arising from the crisis, with many offered for free to members.
- Updating and reissuing a comprehensive book on the state’s public health laws entitled “New York State Public Health Legal Manual: A Guide for Judges, Attorneys and Public Health Professionals.” The book, issued in collaboration with the New York State Office of Court Administration, examines the law governing the containment of communicable diseases, including pandemics like the one we now face.
- Ramping up its advocacy efforts on legislative issues and other matters that impact lawyers, law students and all of the legal community.
- Offering confidential support groups being held weekly via videoconference to help judges, attorneys and law students maintain wellness and cope with the crisis.
The association has also:
- Established an Emergency Task Force for Solos & Small Firms, whose lawyers comprise more than half of NYSBA’s membership. Greenberg noted that COVID-19 is having an especially devastating impact on these practitioners, many of whom have limited financial resources to draw upon during the crisis.
- Worked in partnership with the Office of Court Administration to develop a partnership to support and coordinate a statewide pro bono network of lawyers to handle the expected surge in legal cases resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout.
“Never in the association’s storied history has our voice and leadership been more desperately needed,” Greenberg concluded. “Our response to the COVID-19 crisis proves that we are up to the challenge.”