New York State Bar Association Recognized for Member Services During COVID

By Liz Benjamin

New York State Bar Association Recognized for Member Services During COVID

7.26.2022

By Liz Benjamin

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The New York State Bar Association received two prestigious awards from the Association for Continuing Legal Education for its outstanding commitment to the public interest and utilization of technology to improve member services.

The first award for professional excellence was given to NYSBA’s Publications Department for its groundbreaking automation of the statutory Power of Attorney form.

The second, for outstanding achievement in the public interest, recognized NYSBA’s COVID-19 Pro Bono Recovery Task Force, Information Center, and pro bono network established both to keep members informed and connect New Yorkers in need to free legal services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Established in 1964, the Association for Continuing Legal Education is an international organization that supports the continuing legal education professional around the globe through leadership, community, education, and development. Its members include administrators, trainers, managers, educators, publishers, programmers, and meeting professionals.

“As the nation’s largest voluntary bar state bar organization, serving our members by providing them with the tools and support necessary to succeed professionally is our top priority,” said NYSBA President Sherry Levin Wallach. “These awards are a testament to our deep commitment to fulfilling that mission, which has grown even more important as technological advancements and the pandemic have required us to do more in the virtual space. I commend our staff for their hard work and congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.”

New York State significantly revised its POA form in 2021, allowing for a number of technical amendments. Given that the POA is a widely used and powerful legal document, NYSBA, which has always offered the form as a word document, along with practical guidance, decided to provide an automated version.

Working through a longstanding partnership with Lexis-Nexis, the association produced a standalone automated POA form that eliminates the guesswork surrounding the new legislative changes and dramatically improves access for members.

The COVID-19 crisis presented unprecedented challenges for the legal profession, making it imperative that members had the most up-to-date information to make decisions about how to keep themselves and their employees safe while continuing to serve clients and safeguard access to justice. NYSBA created an online information center that provided real-time updates and served as a comprehensive clearing house of articles, memos, directives and more.

NYSBA also created a COVID-19 Pro Bono Recovery Task Force in partnership with the New York State Court System to pair attorneys with New Yorkers in need of effective, comprehensive, and free services in urgent criminal and civil matters related to the pandemic. The association’s pandemic-related efforts were rounded out by a series of CLEs on how to handle a variety of legal matters that arose as a result of COVID-19, which were offered for free to attorneys who volunteered their services for those who could not otherwise afford representation.

Experienced attorneys in New York must complete 24 accredited CLE credit hours during each biennial reporting cycle, while newly-admitted attorneys are required to take a minimum of 32 credit hours of accredited transitional education within the first two years after admission to the Bar.

The New York CLE Board has extended its order allowing newly-admitted attorneys to complete the 6-hour skills requirement of their 32 credit hours via videoconference, live webcast, or teleconference through Dec. 31, 2022.

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