Sherry Levin Wallach: ‘Every Voice Counts and Every Thought Matters’

By Brandon Vogel

June 18, 2022

Sherry Levin Wallach: ‘Every Voice Counts and Every Thought Matters’


By Brandon Vogel

Becoming the 125th president of this remarkable association is more than just meeting one of the most important professional goals Sherry Levin Wallach set for herself.

It is an opportunity to lead lawyers during challenging times and to speak out against injustice, Levin Wallach said.

In her address to the House of Delegates, Levin Wallach discussed the importance of collaboration and collegiality.

She asked that all members be part of the conversation on issues affecting the legal profession; she wants to hear all perspectives.

“Every voice counts and every thought matters,” Levin Wallach said. “We are so much stronger and more capable when we have input from as many associations and practitioners as possible.”

Levin Wallach’s theme for the year is “Investing in the Future of Our Profession.”

“We will maintain our position as a voice for the profession by focusing on our future of the legal system as lawyers, judges and members of this great profession and association. Our association will continue to work with Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and our court system to continue to improve our justice system,” Levin Wallach said. “I believe that the work that we do together will continue to remind each and every one of you of the value in and need for bar association membership and assist you in joining me in engaging new members.”

New initiatives

In addition to reconvening the Task Force on Mass Shootings and Assault Weapons in reaction to the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, Levin Wallach announced the launch of five new task forces:

The Task Force on the Modernization of Criminal Practice, chaired by Catherine Christian and Andy Kossover, will focus on improving access to justice and ensuring fairness and efficiency in practice and the administration of the criminal justice system. It is comprised of practitioners from across the state, including prosecutors, public defenders, and members in private practice.

“We all have heard about Bitcoin and non-fungible tokens, but do we really understand it?” asked Levin Wallach. “Well, we must and soon with our new Task Force on Emerging Digital Currencies, we will.” Jackie Drohan and Dana Syracuse will co-chair this cutting-edge initiative for the bar.

The new Task Force on Mental Health and Trauma Impacted Representation, chaired by Sheila Shea, will explore the issues that our clients living with mental illness and trauma face and develop recommendations and best practices for providing representation and support for this vulnerable group.

Levin Wallach has worked closely with the NYSBA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee on a series of CLE programs that brought considerable awareness to the Insular Cases and the secondary citizenship that exists for people who are residents of the U.S. territories.

“We will now explore what can and must be done to eliminate the reliance on these cases and their racist doctrines to be sure that all citizens of the United States are treated equally under the law,” Levin Wallach said. “To accomplish this goal, I have appointed a Task Force on the U.S. Territories.” The group will be led by Mirna Martinez Santiago, Natalie Gomez-Velez and Anthony Ciolli.

Levin Wallach has also formed a Task Force on the Ethics of Local Public Sector Lawyering chaired by Steven Leventhal. This task force will work review the ethical guidelines, opinions and challenges that lawyers representing municipalities, school districts, and other local public sector entities face and work to develop best practices and/or guidelines to assist them.

“I pledge to you that these initiatives will develop tangible results – recommendations, reports, and best practices of great utility to the practitioner and the practice of law – and create a corpus of work and achievements that will aid and assist our member attorneys for years to come, especially as we continue to steer our practice, and our lives, from out of the rapids of the COVID crisis,” said Levin Wallach. ” I will also ensure that the focus on attorney well-being – a matter of utmost importance which was so acutely and at times painfully realized during the challenges of the last few years – stays front and center in everything that we do as a bar association. And that our members, from rural communities to the five boroughs, from the upstate cities to our many international chapters overseas – feel and remain vested participants in the work, activity, and governance of our association. New York State is the global leader of law – we will maintain this primacy and safeguard the practice of law and the integrity of our member-practitioners as well.”

Levin Wallach, the eighth female president of the New York State Bar Association, promised to live up to the example of her predecessors and be the same role model to new lawyers as they were to her.

“I am honored by the trust you have put in me, and I am so proud to be your leader,” she concluded.

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