New York State Bar Association Examines Cutting-Edge Issues at First In-Person Annual Meeting in 3 Years

By Jennifer Andrus

January 9, 2023

New York State Bar Association Examines Cutting-Edge Issues at First In-Person Annual Meeting in 3 Years


By Jennifer Andrus

The legal profession’s future in a Web3 world, the regulation of cryptocurrency, the impact of mental illness on the criminal justice system, the regulation of cannabis, the ethics of dealing with difficult clients and the legal challenges faced by the City of New York. These are some of the major issues the New York State Bar Association is tackling at its Annual Meeting Jan. 18 to 24 in New York City.

The Annual Meeting kicks off on Wednesday, Jan. 18, with the Presidential Summit on “Mental Health and the Justice System: Impacts, Challenges and Potential Solutions.”  Panelists will discuss the criminalization of mental illness and attorney well-being. Zack McDermott, the lawyer who wrote “Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love,” will speak about his personal struggles with mental health.

Following the presidential summit, the association will celebrate its diversity and delve into the inequities faced by the people of the U.S. territories when it presents the Constance Baker Motley Symposium & Diversity Awards. The symposium will focus on the fight to overturn the century-old Insular Cases, which the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have relied on to deny constitutional protections to residents of the territories.

The association’s premier event, the Presidential Gala, will honor civil rights champion Sherrilyn Ifill, the longtime leader of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She will receive the association’s highest honor, the Gold Medal, at a celebration of the legal profession at the Rainbow Room from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20.

Honoring attorneys who render extraordinary service to the public and the profession is part of NYSBA’s Annual Meeting tradition. At the Justice for All luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, association President Sherry Levin Wallach and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson will honor outstanding pro bono service providers.

In addition to the association-wide events, Annual Meeting offers dozens of programs with nationally-recognized speakers in many different practice areas including:

  • Former Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue
  • Retired FBI Chief Hostage Negotiator Gary Noesner
  • Arthur McAfee, senior vice president of football operations for the NFL
  • Brendan McGuire, chief counsel to New York City Mayor Eric Adams
  • Above the Law founder David Lat
  • Web3 Metaverse expert Marc Beckman

The Web3 programming will be presented by the New York State Bar Association Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.

At 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Trusts and Estates Section is also focusing on digital assets such as NFTs and blockchain when preparing wills and estates. And international lawyers will continue the emphasis on technology as they examine the global effects on digital assets and cryptocurrency in a virtual program at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 23.

Other highlights of Annual Meeting include:

Legal and Regulatory Challenges for the City of New York. The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section event will feature Brendan McGuire, chief counsel to Mayor Eric Adams. It will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18. McGuire will also discuss why New York City is the best venue for resolving complex business disputes.

Approaches to Negotiations in Sports, Entertainment and Other Universes. The panel is organized by the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section. It features insights from veteran FBI Chief Hostage Negotiator Gary Noesner and NFL Senior Vice President of Football Operations Arthur McAfee, beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.

Panels on the use of Psychedelics for the Treatment of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System will focus on legal issues surrounding the forced treatment of people with mental illness such as the NYC homeless population. The panels are being presented by the Health Law Section from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20.

Current Litigation Issues and Updates in State Regulation of Cannabis.  The sessions will help lawyers navigate state rules and regulations and the impact of the illegal market on the legal cannabis trade. Panelists include the executive staff of the NY Office of Cannabis Management. These sessions will run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19.

The Criminal Justice Section will honor former Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue who threatened to resign if President Trump continued to press his spurious charges of election fraud. Donoghue will receive the Outstanding Prosecutor award for standing up against claims of election fraud in the 2020 election. He is scheduled to speak along with other award winners, criminal defense attorney Murray Richman and Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.

Who Calls the Shots, Client or Lawyer?  U.S. District Court Judge William Kuntz of the Eastern District of New York and Above the Law founder and author David Lat break down the ethics and struggles of handling a client making decisions against legal advice at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The Perpetual Gender Gap session deals with continuing barriers women face in pay and benefits. Panelists will discuss the state’s new pay transparency and salary history rules at 9 a.m. Thursday Jan. 19.

Virtual Sessions Jan. 23-24

Following the in-person sessions in New York City, several sections of the bar association — Real Property, Local and State Government Law, and LGBTQ Law are holding virtual programs and events. The Disability Rights and Veterans committees are also holding virtual events.

The International Section will focus on the fight against Russian aggression in Ukraine. The section will honor Ukrainian Bar Association President Anna Ogrenchuk with its Distinction in International Law Award for her work in forming an international coalition of lawyers to pressure the United Nations to investigate alleged war crimes in her homeland.

Journalists are invited to attend the sessions, panels and special events at the New York Hilton Midtown from Jan. 18 to 21 and the virtual sessions on Jan. 23 and 24. There are also a limited number of press seats at the Rainbow Room on Friday, Jan. 20. Please email Chief Communications Strategist Susan DeSantis at [email protected] if you plan to attend any of the association’s events.

You can find the entire schedule of events by section here.  Follow Annual Meeting proceedings on Twitter at @NYSBA (#NYSBA23#AM2023), Linked In , Facebook (New York State Bar Association) and Instagram (@nystatebar).


Related Articles

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


My NYSBA Account

My NYSBA Account