New York Bar Foundation and NYSBA Reach Tentative Agreement on Ownership of Bar Center

By Susan DeSantis

May 26, 2021

New York Bar Foundation and NYSBA Reach Tentative Agreement on Ownership of Bar Center


By Susan DeSantis

The New York Bar Foundation and the New York State Bar Association have agreed to a new ownership structure for the Bar Center in Albany under the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed Friday.

As the new owner, the association will no longer pay rent to the foundation but will be responsible for renovating and maintaining the Bar Center. In addition, the association will provide the foundation with up to $300,000 a year for the first two years and up to $250,000 per year thereafter in in-kind services. NYSBA will continue to provide office space for the foundation.

“The memorandum allows NYSBA to remain at historic One Elk while ensuring the expansion of the foundation’s fundraising mission,” said Scott M. Karson, NYSBA president. “The memorandum unites us all and benefits our members and the clients we serve.”

The memorandum provides that the two organizations will work collaboratively on joint fundraising activities.

“As the charitable arm of NYSBA, the foundation is pleased to have reached an amicable path forward regarding the One Elk building and looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the association to promote access to justice and public education about the law, all across the state,” said Lesley Rosenthal, the bar foundation president.

“This agreement puts the association in a better position to explore options to stay at One Elk long-term while supporting the foundation’s charitable giving to legal service organizations that represent low-income New Yorkers,” said T. Andrew Brown, president-elect of the association. “A society is only as good as it treats its most vulnerable citizens.”

Under the memorandum, the association will undertake necessary improvements to the Bar Center, which outside consultants have estimated will cost $4.8 million. Fundraising will be undertaken to meet these costs.

Carla M. Palumbo, NYBF vice president and president-elect, called the agreement a win-win for both organizations. “It sets us on a path where we will achieve more together than we ever could individually. Continued collaboration with the bar association will improve our fundraising prowess. I am looking forward to leveraging the considerable resources of both organizations,” she said.

The foundation’s Board of Directors approved and signed the memorandum of understanding on Thursday night, and it was signed by President Karson on Friday morning. The memorandum must be approved by the NYSBA House of Delegates and the New York State Attorney General.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]

Six diverse people sitting holding signs
gradient circle (purple) gradient circle (green)


My NYSBA Account

My NYSBA Account