We live in perilous times. Disease has brought death and serious illness and uprooted the way we live and work. Lawyers and law firms, big and small, are reeling. Some have lost employment; recent law graduates have encountered unprecedented difficulty entering our profession. We are seeing major challenges to the rule of law. The evil of bigotry has renewed old questions about the fairness of law enforcement, our justice system and our commitment to inclusion. Even the bedrock of democracy – a free and fair election with universal respect for the result – is in doubt. The need for lawyers has never been greater. The need for leadership from the New York State Bar Association, the greatest voluntary association of lawyers, has never been greater.
Yet as the Association deals with these external challenges, it must confront existential internal challenges. The downward trend in membership may become a precipitous drop when payment of dues becomes a low priority for lawyers grappling with how to pay their bills. Bar associations have become less relevant for the rising generation of lawyers. While the transition to a virtual world has many benefits, law offices, courthouses, and bar association events are losing their historic roles as places where our legal community gathers. As New York admission has become internationalized, many “New York” attorneys do not practice in the State and have no real connection to those of us that do.
These challenges are difficult but not insurmountable. We can deal with the present realities while also better positioning ourselves to meet the needs of the new profession that is emerging at warp speed. But we need energetic and forward-thinking leadership to inspire lawyers, new and old, to join and stay with us.
I have 45 years of experience, including private practice in both large and small firms and public service. Over decades, I have contributed to this Association, including leadership of two Task Forces, participation in the House and on numerous committees, as a lecturer, and as the author of two of the Association’s best-known publications.
As a court leader, I have dealt with difficult budget issues and have found ways to do more with less, a skillset vital in the coming years. I have worked cooperatively with bar organizations of all kinds and sizes, something that must be done so that we can partner – rather than compete – with local, affinity, and specialty bars to share membership and resources. I have worked assiduously to ensure that our institutions represent the broad diversity of our community and that there is equal opportunity for all. I have worked with governmental and community leaders to achieve important reforms. I have reached out to others and recruited them to work together in common cause.
I seek the Presidency of the Association so that I can use my lifetime of experience to serve our profession. If elected, I will be a tireless advocate for, and a faithful servant of, this Association and its members.