President-Elect Candidate Statement: Timothy Fennell
As COVID closed down the country, we received notice that the practice of law was, with some exceptions, not essential. We were told our practices were being shut down. I recall one attorney who told me how he had to hide in his office with the blinds drawn so not to be in violation of the law. I was appointed to a Task Force to address the effect of the pandemic on Solo and Small Firms. Immediately, I voiced my strong opposition to the State’s position on the practice of law. I composed a resolution that the Task Force passed asking the Governor to change his determination about the practice of law. While I certainly understand the unique emergency circumstances that the Governor faced, I felt at the time, and still feel, that the practice of law should be defended and considered essential in a free and democratic society. If I am nominated to the position of President-Elect, I will continue to hold that position and argue on behalf of our members that the practice of law is that important.
I have been a member of NYSBA since I was sworn in in 1984. I enjoyed the mentorship of a long time State Bar leader who emphasized the importance of being active in the Bar. I am so glad I listened. Our Association continues to be a leader in the pursuit of fundamental freedoms such as liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness. This Association, through its leaders, committees and sections consistently addresses the needs of those who suffer within the justice system. You have my commitment that I will represent the Association always to protect the rights of the few and the interest of our membership.
As I sit here preparing these remarks, I am mindful that 60 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington. His goals of equality under the law are still aspirational but we have made many advancements. Our Association has the same goals with respect to diversity and many work tirelessly to meet those goals. However, we still fall short in many ways and we need to be an Association that is welcoming to the diverse members of the Bar. As your President-Elect, I commit that I will work full time to bring action to words and attract, maintain and promote diverse lawyers to our profession.