T. Andrew Brown to House of Delegates: ‘There Is No Turning Back’
“I, T. Andrew Brown, do solemnly swear, that I support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New York, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the Office of President of the New York State Bar Association, in accordance with the association bylaws and to the best of my ability, so help me God.”
With his daughter Ali beside him to hold the Bible in the Richardson Courtroom of the Court of Appeals, T. Andrew Brown of Rochester (Brown Hutchinson) took the oath of office as president with Chief Judge Janet DiFiore swearing him in.
Following video of the installation, President T. Andrew Brown of Rochester (Brown Hutchinson) addressed the House of Delegates to discuss why the association and the profession must reflect and reimagine how to safeguard and strengthen our futures.
With a light at the end of the tunnel and widespread availability for vaccines facilitating the reopening of courts and offices, Brown, the 124th president of the association, said now is the time to evaluate what has worked and what has not.
He noted that reforming systems, such as policing, healthcare, education, and the courts, requires significant reassessing and retooling to meet the demands of the day.
Lawyers, he said, are uniquely positioned to assist in this endeavor, but “we must start by getting our own house in order.”
“We must take advantage and reinvent ourselves as a profession and certainly as an association,” said Brown. “There is no turning back.”
To remain relevant, Brown said, we cannot continue doing things the way we have always done them before.
He acknowledged how the pandemic taxed all aspects of life, but encouraged members to look at what we have learned to move forward.
He said, last year’s events “upended and unsettled us,” but also accelerated and mandated changes that arguably would have taken much longer to accomplish.”
“The twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and social justice as it relates to law enforcement combined to expose long-standing inequities and it is far past time to address them,” said Brown. “I will dedicate the time of my presidency to careful attention and action on these issues.”
To that end, Brown will establish a task force on the post-pandemic future of the legal profession, chaired by Mark A. Berman of New York (Ganfer Shore) and John H. Gross of Hauppauge (Ingerman Smith).
It will examine the remote practice of law, the increased use of technology by clients and practitioners, the efficacy of virtual courts and tribunals, changes in client interaction and expectations, law practice management, access to justice, the delivery of legal services, and the education, training, and mentorship of newer attorneys.
He also plans to convene a task force on racism, social equity and the law, with an eye toward building on the work the association has undertaken to address some of the most intransigent regulations, laws, and structures that are collectively holding us back as a society from achieving true equality.
“We will strive to see every issue we tackle this year through the lens of equity, as we know all too well that racism and injustice pervades almost every aspect of our lives,” said Brown.
The task force will also look at individuals suffering from stigma and abuse as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. New York can and should speak out against prejudice and set the standard for true equitable treatment of all individuals under the law, said Brown.
Brown will also appoint a third task force devoted to voting rights. “We should be a beacon of hope and a shining example of how to encourage participation in democracy, not limit it,” said Brown. “The association has a role to play here as well, putting the considerable expertise and experience of our members at the disposal of lawmakers who seek to protect and preserve this important tenet of our society.”
He will continue Immediate Past President Scott Karson’s commitment to attorney well-being.
Brown expressed optimism that he could meet with members in person in the near future. “There is much work to be done in the year to come.”