2015-16 Committee Handbook

The City Bar relies on its committee chairs, secretaries and committee members to be ambassadors of the bar. You are in the forefront of all we do, you are our voice and our representatives and we can’t thank you enough for your time and commitment. Chairs play a key role in giving as many as possible an opportunity to serve on a committee, encouraging committee members take up drafting reports, planning programs, getting involved in public service opportunities and recruiting new members to the City Bar.

Committee Membership

Committee service is a great benefit of membership and there are many City Bar members ready to get involved. Please give these members an opportunity to serve. Remember to keep your committee roster full by filling all vacancies. New members may be added throughout the year. Reach out to your members and keep them engaged, in between meetings and over the summer. An active and engaged committee benefits the City Bar and the committee members.

Committee members are appointed by the President, who acts on the recommendation of committee chairs. Members of committee general serve three-year terms. Though the majority of members are appointed in the spring to begin a term starting in the fall, committee vacancies may be filled throughout the year.

Information about members who have expressed interest in your committee is available on the member-only web page. Every spring we will send information on how to log on to the page. The information is updated throughout the year. The City Bar will send email notifications as we receive new applicants. Please work with Stephanie Glazer (sglazer@nycbar.org or 212.382.6664) when recommending new members to the committee.

Please keep the following in mind when making new member recommendations:

  • The maximum number of voting members on standing committee is 39 (three classes of 13). There is no limit on special committees, but they generally should not exceed 39, with the exception of the Councils;
  • In addition to the 39 voting members committee may have non-voting members including affiliates, law students and adjuncts;
  • A person who already is a member of one standing committee may not be appointed to another standing committee prior to the conclusion of his or her term;
  • No more than one member of a firm, law department or institution may be appointed to the same committee; and
  • All resignations and filling of vacancies throughout the year should be reported to Stephanie Glazer (212.382.6664 or sglazer@nycbar.org)

Please note that the City Bar seeks diversity of perspectives within committees.

If you are having difficulty filling committee vacancies, please contact Martha Harris (212.382.6607 or mharris@nycbar.org) or Stephanie Glazer (212.382.6664 or sglazer@nycbar.org ) to brainstorm options.

Except when there is a particular reason for an individual to attend a given meeting, all persons who attend committee meetings should be regular voting members or fall within one of the categories below.

Affiliate Members

Affiliate members, like all committee members, must be members of the City Bar. Affiliate members are non-voting committee members and do not count toward the limit of 39 members. Affiliate members are appointed for one-year terms and may be reappointed at the request of the chair.

Some of the situations when a chair might want to appoint someone as an Affiliate Member are listed below (this list is not meant to be inclusive and is not intended to imply that any of the people in these situations might not be appropriate regular members).

  • Rotating off the committee but are working on a project that will extend into the next year;
  • Employed at the same firm or law office as a regular committee member (please note committee cannot have more than two members from the same firm or law office, and only one can be a voting member);
  • A junior member of the bar;
  • A prominent member of the bar or government official who could not fully devote the time necessary for full committee participation; or
  • A former member or chair who would like to continue to serve.

Please contact Stephanie Glazer (sglazer@nycbar.org or 212.382.6664) with any questions on who qualifies as an affiliate member.

Adjunct Members

Committee chairs may appoint non-lawyers to the committee as adjunct members. Adjunct members are non-voting members and do not count towards the limit of 39 members. Adjunct members are appointed for one-year terms and may be reappointed at the request of the chair.

Law Student Members

Chairs are urged to consider appointing a few law student members to the committee. Law student members are non-voting members and do not count against the committee’s limit of 39 members. Law student members are appointed for one-year terms and may be reappointed at the request of the chair.

Change of address, telephone and fax numbers and e-mail should be sent directly to the Membership Office (phone 212.382.6665, fax 212.382.6760 or e-mail membershipservices@nycbar.org ). All other changes in committee membership listings should be sent to the Committee Membership Manager, Stephanie Glazer, at sglazer@nycbar.org.

Prior to the first meeting, the chair should appoint a member of the committee to act as secretary and notify Stephanie Glazer (212.382.6664 or sglazer@nycbar.org) of the appointment. Alternatively, the chair may appoint a committee secretary who is not on the committee, frequently from his or her own firm or organization; in this case the secretary would not be a voting member.

The secretary generally is responsible for:

  • Keeping a record of attendance and preparing minutes of the committee meetings;
  • Making minutes available as promptly as possible to the committee members for approval by posting them on the Committee’s City Bar Central Group or sending them around.
  • Once approved, minutes should be emailed to Margot Isaacs (misaacs@nycbar.org) and posted on the Committee’s City Bar Central Group. Posting the final version of the monthly meeting minutes on City Bar Central will allow the committee to maintain a record of its discussions.;
  • managing the Committee’s City Bar Central Group; and
  • Assisting the chair in performing administrative and organizing tasks such as collecting committee assessments, and making meeting arrangements with Meeting Services.

The committee member’s seat is his or her seat and not a firm seat, they may not send a substitute when they cannot attend. Attendance of members at committee meetings should be recorded and included with the minutes. This policy underscores that membership is an individual, not a firm, responsibility and preserves the confidentiality of committee proceedings. Please note that By-Law XII(i) authorizes removal of a member who has three unexcused absences in any committee year, to allow replacement by someone more able to actively participate in the committee’s work.

Committee Organization

Whether you are a new chair or a continuing chair it is important to get your committee organized for the new committee year which begins in September. In addition to appointing new members there are a number of annual steps to go through to make sure the committee is ready to start the year. At the first meeting of the committee year, generally in September, chairs usually do the following:

  • Discuss topics to be addressed by the committee during the committee year, including possible programs;
  • Confirm the meeting schedule as far in advance as possible;
  • Decide on the type of catering service to be provided for the year;
  • Set the amount of assessment members will be charged to cover the cost of food and beverages at meetings; and
  • Start forming subcommittees to address specific topics or functions.

It is recommended that you prepare a schedule of meetings for the entire year, including catering plans, as early as possible since there is a heavy demand for meeting rooms among the Association’s 160 committees.

Meeting room reservations can be made by emailing schedules to Linda Kemble (lkemble@nycbar.org) in our Meeting Services Department.

Please make sure you have reserved the meeting room before communicating meeting dates with the committee. In addition, please avoid scheduling meetings on the holidays identified here.

Several committees have moved from the traditional evening meeting to breakfast or lunch meetings, or to alternating between morning and evening meetings, and have been happy with these arrangements. Rooms can be easier to get during the day, and breakfast can be provided (at less than dinner costs).

The City Bar’s policy is to encourage all committees, to the extent possible, to hold their meetings at the House of the Association. Should your committee be required to meet outside of the House of the Association, please be aware that it is the policy of the City Bar that none of the City Bar’s meetings and no meetings of its officers, committees or staff be held at clubs whose admission policies are known, or are publicly acknowledged, to be discriminatory on the basis or sex, color, race, religion, national origin, disability, age, marital status, gender identity or sexual preference. In addition, if your committee does hold meetings outside the City Bar please inform the Meeting Services Department of the date and place of the meeting, so we can advise committee members and guests who call or come to the City Bar seeking that information.

Committees have the option of providing breakfast, hot dinners, assorted cold salads, sandwiches, snacks, special request items, beverages or no food at meetings. A full menu of options can be found here. The cost of food and beverages is borne by the individual committee members as part of their committee assessment. If the catering options do not meet the committee’s needs please contact Nick Marricco, the Meeting Services Director, at 212.382.6637 or nmarricco@nycbar.org, to discuss other possibilities.

Committee members should be assessed an amount necessary to cover food and beverage costs for the committee year. Each committee sets and collects committee dues from its members, generally the Secretary or other appointee of the Chair. Sometimes an individual member finds it impossible to pay the entire assessment. One method used by committees to handle this situation is a two-tier assessment, with a lesser amount required of public interest and government lawyers. We recommend that law student members not be charged an assessment. We leave it to your discretion whether affiliate members are required to pay assessments, and if so whether to pay the same as regular members or some other amount.

The City Bar now offers a Committee Dues Program. This program enables the City Bar to accommodate your committee by accepting and tracking the dues you collect from your committee members for your meetings. We will then pay your catering invoices directly from your committee's account. If you choose to participate in this program, please contact Fred Garcia in the City Bar Finance Department (fgarcia@nycbar.org).

The City Bar Finance Department will enter and keep track of your committee dues balance. Monthly statements will be posted to your committee group on ). You will still receive copies of your catering invoices so that you may review them for accuracy. In addition you will be able to draw on these funds for other appropriate purposes. A check request form can be found here.

If your committee is a participant in the Committee Dues Program please ask members to make their committee dues payment payable to the New York City Bar and send them to the committee secretary or other appointee of the Chair. The secretary should send the checks along with a list of the related names and amounts to Fred Garcia (fgarcia@nycbar.org) at the City Bar. Members of Committees that have chosen to participate in the Committee Dues Program are now able to pay their Committee Dues by credit card online. To pay your committee dues via credit card please click here.

Please avoid using personal, firm or corporate stationery when communicating about committee business.

The City Bar can provide a template of your stationery with the name of the committee and the names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses of the chair and secretary. Your firm or organization name should not appear on the stationery unless absolutely necessary.

To request a template please contact Margot Isaacs at misaacs@nycbar.org. Please order your template through the City Bar to be sure it conforms to the City Bar’s format. We will send the template via e-mail. Please note that the template is only available in Microsoft Word.

Each committee is required to keep minutes of its meetings. Attendance of members at committee meetings should be recorded and included with the minutes. This means listing those present, not present – excused and non present – unexcused. An excused absence is when the member lets you know they cannot attend and has a good reason. An unexcused absence is when the member does not reply to the meeting notice one way or the other.

Since the proceedings of committees are confidential, please mark the minutes as “confidential.”

Once final, please send minutes to Margot Isaacs, misaacs@nycbar.org. We also urge committees to post the final version of the minutes in their Committee Group on . By posting the minutes on City Bar Central, all committee members will have access and your Executive Committee Liaison will get notice of the posting as well. In addition, to encourage joint efforts and to avoid duplicative ones, we strongly urge committees to share their minutes with the leadership of committees with similar jurisdictions.

City Bar Website

The City Bar’s website contains the program and CLE calendars, reports, membership information and information for the public on particular legal topics. The website also contains the Membership and Committee Directory. The Directory allows members to retrieve current contact information for fellow committee chairs, committee members and all City Bar members. To access the Directory you will need to enter your login name and password. If you have forgotten your login name and/or password please click on the “Forget password” button or you may contact the Membership Office (212.382.6665 or membershipservices@nycbar.org).

Committee Web Pages

Each Committee is urged to setup and utilize its webpage on the City Bar website.

The committee’s page is dedicated to the work of your committee and includes the name and brief description of the committee, the name, email address and photo of the chair, and information on your committee’s reports and upcoming committee programs and other matters of interest. In addition, this is a place for committees to post materials and articles that may be of interest to committee members as well as City Bar members generally. Please remember this is a pubic facing page and should not contain confidential committee materials.

Committee Communities - City Bar Central

Each committee has its own community on City Bar Central, which is a private online group. The City Bar Central platform allows committee members to view and post documents, collaborate on reports, deliberate on issues between meetings in discussion forums, access their committee roster, post and respond to meeting announcements, send private messages to fellow committee members and so much more.

Please note only members of the committee have access to the committee’s community on City Bar Central so make sure your membership roster is up to date and that the City Bar knows who is going on and who is coming off the committee.

For questions and help regarding City Bar Central please contact the City Bar Central Coordinator at coordinator-central@nycbar.org.

City Bar committees that focus on a substantive area of law are grouped into various clusters (e.g., Criminal Law Cluster, Litigation Cluster, etc.). Clusters are groups of committees that have overlapping jurisdictions or are likely to focus on related topics. Each cluster is assigned an Executive Committee liaison. The liaison is able to provide assistance where appropriate and help coordinate the work of the committee with the interests and activities of the other committees.

If an Executive Committee liaison has been assigned to your committee, the liaison’s name will appear on the committee membership roster so he or she will receive all committee meeting notices. In addition, liaisons should receive copies of committee minutes, draft reports and other relevant correspondence.

Please note that liaisons are not members of the committee and do not vote on any action contemplated by the committee. Their names should not be listed on any committee report or product, or on committee attendance lists; they can be listed as a guest if they attend a given committee meeting.

In the fall, the liaison brings the chairs of all the committees in the cluster together to meet one another and to encourage discussions and cooperation among the committees. In order to keep the lines of communication open, committees are encouraged to share minutes and other relevant information with the other committees in the cluster.

Clusters are also expected to think about how they as a group or as individual committees can reach out to involve fellow City Bar members in their practice area, through receptions, networking breakfasts with a featured speaker or other such events.

A list of which committees have been assigned an Executive Committee liaison as well as the contact information of the liaison can be found here.

By the date of the Chair’s annual meeting with the President (generally in the late spring) the Chair should submit to the President a brief annual report summarizing the activities and proceedings of the committee for the current committee year and your plans for the next year. If you are an outgoing chair, the incoming chair should prepare the position regarding next year’s plans. Feel free to include suggestions regarding the powers, duties and activities of the committee.

Committee Meetings

This is where the ideas are generated. Let members run with ideas and be sure to give them a deadline of when they need to report back to the full committee. Please remind members that all meetings are confidential and that they leave their “client hats” at the door. Meetings should be a good mix of working sessions and guest speakers. Committees should also consider holding joint meetings to discuss a topic of mutual interest or to invite related committees to hear from your guest speaker. The City Bar encourages committees to involve new lawyers and introduce them to the City Bar, so consider holding a meeting where each member bring a junior colleague or friend.

Committee meeting notices may be sent by the committee or by the Meeting Services Department. Unless otherwise instructed the Meeting Services Department will email the meeting notices for all committee meetings held at the City Bar. These notices will be emailed out two weeks prior to the meeting date. Please remember to notify the Department of any date changes or cancellations.

The Meeting Services Notice will have a link to the email of the committee secretary so members can respond, indicating whether or not they will be attending the meeting. You should remind your members not to return their responses to the Association, since this will result in delay in determining your final count for the meeting. Your final headcount should be communicated to Meeting Services as early as possible, and at least by the Friday morning before the meeting.

Committees are also urged to post the date and time of their meetings on the group calendar on their Committee Group in . Committees may choose to use City Bar Central as a way of notifying members about upcoming meetings, rsvps may be taken through City Bar Central as well. Your final headcount should be communicated to Meeting Services as early as possible.

If your committee chooses to have food and/or beverages at meetings, please be aware there are many options from beverages alone to breakfast, lunch, sandwiches or hot dinner. For a full list of options and prices click here. If the catering options do not meet the committee’s needs please contact Nick Marricco, the Meeting Services Director, at 212.382.6637 or nmarricco@nycbar.org, to discuss other possibilities.

If, for any reason, you decide to cancel or change the type of service to be provided you must notify the Meeting Services Department at least three days before the meeting.

Please inform the Department of the number of persons to be served at your meeting by 11:00 a.m. on Friday of the week prior to the meeting. As Meeting Services must order food and arrange for its staffing in advance, it cannot reduce the charges to the Committee if fewer members attend or you reduce your attendance count after 11:00 a.m. on Friday of the week prior to the meeting. Therefore it is usually desirable to underestimate your meal count slightly unless you have a definite commitment from each committee member.

Alcoholic beverages are available on a per-drink cost basis. Committees (and others using Association facilities) are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages onto the premises of the City Bar.

If food or beverages are served at the committee meeting, the chair or a designee (usually the committee secretary) will receive a bill from the City Bar approximately one week after your meeting. Please submit your payment no later than 10 days after receiving the bill. Any questions regarding your bill should be directed to the Meeting Services Department.

Please note that the Executive Committee has passed a resolution which reads:

“A committee which is in arrears in settling catering expenses for two meetings, or whose indebtedness is ninety days overdue from the date of billing, may not book another meeting involving food or beverages until the indebtedness is discharged. Compliance with this resolution is essential and your cooperation will be appreciated. In addition, before any final food or beverage service can be provided at the June committee meeting, all prior outstanding catering bills should be satisfied.”

If your committee is part of the you will receive copies of your catering invoices so that you may review them for accuracy. After ten days the amount due will automatically be deducted from your Committee Dues Account.

The Meeting Services Department can provide audio/visual equipment for use by committees. Reservations will be on a first-come/first-served basis. Please contact Meeting Services (lkemble@nycbar.org or 212.382.6653) at least three days prior to your meeting to make appropriate arrangements. Listed below is a current inventory of available equipment:

  • 60” x 90” screen
  • 96” x 96” screen
  • Conference phone
  • VCR & 21 inch monitor
  • Laptop
  • DVD and Blu-Ray player
  • Audio taping
  • Slide projector(s)
  • Data projector
  • Corporate easels with pads
  • Document camera
  • Overhead projector(s)

Meals of guest speakers may be paid either from your members’ due assessment or by the City Bar if there are funds available in that budget. When the committee has hosted a guest speaker whose dinner is to be charged against the committee budget, please email that information to Linda Kemble in our Meeting Services Department (lkemble@nycbar.org ) the day following the meeting. Dinners of Executive Committee liaisons and City Bar staff will be charged to the appropriate City Bar budget line if/when the committee emails that information to Meeting Services.

New York law strictly bans gifts to New York State government officials and officials of New York mu-nicipalities with populations of 50,000 or more, with limited exceptions. Providing a meal, or paying meal expenses of State officials, is banned, with the following relevant exceptions:

  • Complimentary attendance, food and beverage offered by the sponsor of a widely attended event. The term “widely attended event” shall mean an event: (A) which at least twenty-five individuals other than members, officer, or employees from the governmental entity in which the public official serves attended or were in good faith invited to attend, and (B) which is related to the attendee’s duties or responsibilities or which allows the public official to perform a ceremonial function appropriate to his or her position. For the purposes of this exclusion, a public official’s duties or responsibilities shall include but not be limited to either (1) attending an event or a meeting at which a speaker or attendee addresses an issue of public interest or concern as a significant activity at such an event or meeting; or (2) for elected public officials, or their staff attending with or on behalf of such elected officials, attending an event or a meeting at which more than one-half of the attendees, or persons invited in good faith to attend, are residents of the county, district or jurisdiction from which the elected public official was elected.
  • Meals or refreshments when participating in a professional or educational program and the meals or refreshments are provided to all participants.
  • Food or beverage valued at $15 or less.

Please do not offer or agree to any reimbursement of expenses of New York State or local government officials. This rule does not apply to Federal officials. If you have any questions about this law, please contact add Senior Policy Counsel, Maria Cilenti (212.382.6655 or mcilenti@nycbar.org) before inviting a state or local official to any event.

Should your committee be required to meet outside of the House of the Association, please be aware that it is the policy of the City Bar that none of the City Bar’s meetings and no meetings of its officers, committees or staff be held at clubs whose admission policies are known, or are publicly acknowledged, to be discriminatory on the basis or sex, color, race, religion, national origin, disability, age, marital status, gender identity or sexual preference. In addition, please inform the Meeting Services Department of the date and place of any outside meetings, so we can advise committee members and guests who call or come to the City Bar seeking that information.

Committee Finances

Committee members should be assessed dues in an amount necessary to cover food and beverage costs for the committee year. The amount each committee sets varies widely from $20 - $400 depending on the type of food service the committee provides. Many committees use the dues assessment for other purposes including gifts for chairs or members who are rotating off, end of year events, to help defray the cost of bringing in a guest to speak at a meeting or program.

The City Bar also provides each committee with an annual modest budget of $300 that is intended to cover some administrative costs of running the committee as well as coving the meal cost of a limited number of speakers at committee meetings.

Committee members should be assessed an amount necessary to cover food and beverage costs for the committee year. Sometimes an individual member finds it impossible to pay the entire assessment. One method used by committees to handle this situation is a two-tier assessment, with a lesser amount required of public interest and government lawyers. We recommend that law student members not be charged an assessment. We leave it to your discretion whether affiliate members are required to pay assessments, and if so whether to pay the same as regular members or some other amount.

Each committee sets and collects committee dues from its members, generally the Secretary or other appointee of the Chair. These dues may be sent to the City Bar where we will maintain a dues account for each committee.

Committee members should make their committee dues payment payable to the New York City Bar and send them to the committee secretary or other appointee of the Chair. The secretary should send the checks along with a list of the related names and amounts to Fred Garcia (fgarcia@nycbar.org) at the City Bar.

The City Bar Finance Department will enter and keep track of your committee dues balance. Monthly statements will be posted to your committee group on City Bar Central. You will still receive copies of your catering invoices so that you may review them for accuracy. In addition you will be able to draw on these funds for other appropriate purposes. A check request form can be found here and should be used for such expenses.

Each committee is allocated an annual modest budget of $300 that is intended to cover expenses such as the meal cost of a limited number of speakers at committee meetings, copying services and postage. Please note that committee budget constraints make it difficult to fully cover travel and lodging expenses of guests at committee meetings. Expenses for the printing and publicizing of reports are not ordinarily charged against the committee budget.

The committee budget year runs from September 1 to August 31. Funds may not roll over to the following year.

The budget for your committee may not be used to pay for catering expenses of committee members. Also please note: single expenditures in excess of $200 must have the prior authorization of the Executive Director. In addition, By-Law XII(n) of the City Bar prohibits incurring any indebtedness or pecuniary obligation except to the extent previously authorized. Therefore you may not spend over your budgeted amount without prior authorization of the Executive Director.

Information on committee budgets and how to obtain reimbursement is available from Martha Harris (mharris@nycbar.org or 212.382.6607).

Committees of the City Bar have increasingly sought funding for their programs and projects from outside organizations and foundations. We have the capacity to assist you in your efforts to raise funds for specific projects through the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Fund, Inc. (City Bar Fund), which is a 501(c)(3) corporation organized in 1946 to support Association projects. The City Bar Fund is not a private foundation and is eligible to receive tax-exempt contributions from individuals, foundations and cor¬porations. All funding efforts should go through the City Bar Fund and should be discussed with Bret Parker before any outside funders are contacted.

For those of you not familiar with the City Bar Fund, its mission is to “facilitate and improve the administration of justice.” The largest public service program of the Fund is the City Bar Justice Center. By harnessing resources from the legal profession, the City Bar Justice Center annually provides direct legal representation, information, and advocacy to 25,000 indigent and low-income New Yorkers from all five boroughs. Clients include cancer patients and survivors, immigrant women and children, people seeking asylum, the elderly, the homeless and people facing eviction or bankruptcy, victims of domestic violence, small businesses, veterans facing foreclosure, and those in need who cannot otherwise access legal resources. The Justice Center also runs the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP), which provides low to mid-income micro-entrepreneurs with the legal services necessary to get their business started off on as sound a footing as possible.

The City Bar Justice Center recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys to provide advice and representation. It operates a telephone hotline which provides referrals and brief advice and serves as intake to the various City Bar Justice Center projects. [In addition, the City Bar Justice Center operates the Public Service Network, which matches volunteer attorneys with nonprofit organizations in need of legal and non-legal support. ]Does this still exist? I think no?

In addition to the Justice Center, the City Bar Fund also comprises the Vance Center for International Justice which provides pro bono legal advice to international social justice NGOs and human rights agencies, in partnership with major law firms worldwide. The Vance Center advises clients with missions and projects in four areas: human rights and access to justice; free speech, press, and information; environmental sustainability; and health and development. In addition, our Program on Strengthening the Legal Profession builds the capacity of law firms, bar associations, law schools, and pro bono clearinghouses, regarding pro bono service, ethics, and diversity.

The City Bar Fund also includes the Lawyer Assistance Program (which assists drug and alcohol dependent lawyers or those suffering from depression) and the Office for Diversity & Inclusion (which coordinates diversity efforts within the legal profession and runs a Diversity Pipeline program for students considering a legal career), and various lectures, awards and committee-sponsored projects.

Project proposals submitted by a City Bar committee should contain an administrative fee to cover the estimated costs incurred by the City Bar Fund for each project, including staff and accounting support, office expenses and indirect costs. All moneys received for City Bar projects will be held in restricted funds of the City Bar Fund. Checks from grantors should be made payable to the City Bar Fund. Once funds are raised, as your committee requires funds for the purposes of the project, receipts and/or bills approved and signed by the chair of the committee should be submitted to Bret Parker for prompt payment.

Public Service Projects

Committees are encouraged to undertake public service projects. A number of committees have prepared educational videos or booklets, conducted public information programs, trained lawyers or lay advocates, developed relationships with schools, or utilized their expertise to service a needy population. In addition the Public Service Committee of the New Lawyer Council is charged with creating opportuni¬ties for City Bar members to give back to the NYC community in ways beyond legal services and is interested in partnering with other committee on many of its projects. If your committee is interested, or would like to discuss ideas for public service projects, please contact Martha Harris (mharris@nycbar.org or 212-382-6607), who can help you plan your project or route you to the appropriate contact in the City Bar or the City Bar Fund.

Committee Reports, Policy Recommendations and Advocacy

The City Bar provides a professional home for the legal community that cultivates high ethical and professional standards, promotes reform of the law for the public good and the fair and effective administration of justice, and affords the public greater access to justice. One of the ways the City Bar accomplishes this mission is through the written work product of our committees, which we refer to as committee “reports” and which includes such things as comments on pending legislation, letters to public officials and amicus briefs.

To learn more about the process of developing and issuing a committee report, please review the following sections, visit our website, or contact Maria Cilenti, Senior Policy Counsel at 212-382-6655 or mcilenti@nycbar.org or Martha Harris, Director of Committee Engagement at 212-382-6607 or mharris@nycbar.org.

Types of reports

Any written product drafted by a committee is governed by the City Bar’s report review process, outlined below. This includes, but is not limited to, amicus briefs, ethics opinions, letters to elected officials, legislative reports, public comments, hearing testimony, policy recommendations, surveys, FOIL requests, , questionnaires, etc. See the “” section for more information.

Prior Positions

Before undertaking a report, committees should check to see if the City Bar has a prior position on the issue. Committees can consult their City Bar Central page for past discussions or reports on a topic. Additionally, the Committee Reports section of our website provides reports from at least the past ten years and the Policy Department or Library can check our internal records for older reports. Committees are encouraged to contact these departments to learn if the City Bar has issued any reports on the topics they are considering.

The existence of a prior City Bar report does not preclude the same committee or a different committee from issuing a subsequent report on the same topic; however the subsequent report cannot take a different position on the issue, absent a compelling reason.  Committees can write additional reports on a topic provided that they are updating an old report with new data, offering a new analysis from a different committee's prospective or doing a deeper study of the issue.

A City Bar position can only be reevaluated if a significant amount of new data is presented or there is a change in circumstances that seriously alters the conditions in which the issue was initially considered. In such a case, the then-sitting President must the change in position.

Consultation and Review of Reports with Other Committees

Committees should feel free to initiate projects without undue inhibitions caused by possible concurrent jurisdiction with other committees. However, at an early stage, committees should inform the chairs of other committees having a pos­sible interest in the subject being pursued, so that activities can be properly coordinated.

A joint report with another committee strengthens the impact of a report while at the same time add­ing valuable perspectives to its substance. By joining forces, or simply consulting in the earliest stages of serious work efforts, committees may avoid frustrat­ing publication delays in the event of disagreement at a later date with another committee that the President or Executive Committee might have to resolve. When submitting a report for review, committees should indicate on their Report Intake Form any other committees consulted during the drafting of the report.

If, upon receiving a report, the President determines that another committee should review it that has not already done so, the report will be sent to the committee with a request to provide any comments in writing within five days. Where there is need for faster action, the reviewing committee will be so informed. If a committee raises concerns regarding another committee’s report, the President will work with the committees to resolve the matter promptly. If agreement cannot be reached, the City Bar’s By-Laws empower the President to resolve the issue, and permit an appeal of the President’s decision to the Executive Committee (See By-Law XIV).

Content and Formatting of Reports

While the content and format of committee reports will vary depending on the topic and goal of the report, all committee work should aim to be well-balanced, well-supported and thoughtful. All efforts should be made to ensure any work coming out of the committees meets the high standards of the City Bar and upholds its mission.

To help with the finalizing of reports, the City Bar has developed a general Style Guide for committees to use. Please consult this guide when drafting reports. For examples of committee reports, please visit the Committee Reports section of our website.

The Executive Committee has adopted the following resolution regarding confidentiality of City Bar and committee proceedings:

“Deliberations at committee meetings are normally understood by the committee members to be part of the process of reaching conclusions and are not intended for public disclosure of any kind. At the same time, the subjects being discussed at committee meetings are frequently issues of public concern which are not better resolved in a total vacuum. Some exposure to the outside world of the subjects being discussed within the committee is likely to result in a better conclusion. Committees are free to and are encouraged to seek outside views, but such efforts should not be made without the express approval of the chair of the committee or of the committee as a whole. More over, even with such approval, the disclosure of the views of individual members of the committee, or of positions being considered by the committee, is a violation of the rights of the committee and committee members, and is inconsistent with the fact that City Bar positions should be publicly announced only in accordance with the procedures set out in the by-laws.”

In line with this resolution, committee chairs should periodically stress to committee members that all conclusions, recommendations or reports of the committee must remain confidential until by the President for publication. The President requires that all drafts of reports be clearly marked on the first page with the following language:

“The following is a draft report, not an approved position of the Committee or the New York City Bar, and is not intended for distribution outside the Association.”

If the committee wishes to circulate a draft report to agencies or other persons outside the City Bar for review, that too must first be by the President, and should be clearly marked with the above language.

It is generally undesirable for a committee to take any action of significance with only a small number of members present or by a vote that is closely divided (a quorum of the committee is one more than half its voting membership, including the chair). The Chair is expected to make efforts to avoid such a result whenever feasible, such as deferring final action or developing alternative positions that may command greater support on the committee than a bare majority, without any suggestion, however, that a bare majority lacks power to take final action.

It is also acceptable to poll committee members not present at the meeting with regard to their views on a report. In using such a poll, however, please recognize that some of those responding may not have had the benefit of a committee discussion of the report; thus, such a poll should not be used to reverse a decision made at a committee meeting.

On occasion, in order to issue a position in a timely manner, the Chair may choose to solicit a vote by email. However, if there is significant dissent or concern raised, chairs should try not to rely on an email vote if the topic being voted on was not discussed at a committee meeting. Committees can also conduct meetings by conference call when necessary, and can poll by telephone rather than email.

Individual Conflicts on Substantive Issues Addressed by Committees

All members of the City Bar, particularly members of committees, should take special care to safeguard the reputation of the City Bar and their committees for integrity and objectivity. In general, it is assumed that all member leave their clients’ hats at the door of the City Bar and engage in deliberation and debate as individual members of the bar.

However, there may be occasions when a member has such an immediate, direct interest in a particular set of issues that the perception of his or her involvement in any committee report or action involving these issues will compromise the integrity of the process. Examples of such direct interest are involvement in litigation, a regulatory proceeding or a lobbying campaign that directly relates to the subject matter on which the committee is developing a position. In such instances, a member must always dis close his or her activity to the committee, and as appropriate, recuse himself or herself from discussion, research, drafting and/or approval of any report or statement touching these issues. Questions regarding the application of this policy may be resolved by the Chair of the Committee or directed to the Policy Department.

Committees should be mindful of Rule 6.4 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct:

“A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of an organization involved in reform of the law or its administration, notwithstanding that the reform may affect the interests of a client of the lawyer. When the lawyer knows that the interests of a client may be materially benefitted by a decision in which the lawyer actively participates, the lawyer shall disclose that fact to the organization, but need not identify the client. In determining the nature and scope of participation in such activities, a lawyer should be mindful of obligations to clients under other Rules, particularly 1.7”
[Note: Rule 1.7 addresses conflicts of interest involving current clients.]

The City Bar is often asked to support issues by joining coalitions or signing on to the work of other organizations, such as reports, letters, amicus briefs, petitions, etc. Please be advised that the City Bar does not sign on to work prepared by another entity or formally join coalitions/campaigns. By signing on to the work of another group, the City Bar cedes the use of its name to someone else and limits the President’s authority under its By- Laws to approve positions and decisions made related to a position, both strategic and substantive.

As an alternative, committees can work in tandem with a coalition or organization and issue their own report on the topic in question.

A committee may jointly issue a report with another organization if the committee is substantively involved in the drafting of the report and it is approved by the and .

By-Law XIV(6) governs the procedures for approval of reports, conclusions or recommendations. Prior to release of any report or any written or oral communi­cation that presents the committee’s conclusions or recommendations on a substantive matter, the report, conclusions or recommendations must be approved by the President. The President has ten days to review the report, although the President may waive the ten-day requirement with respect to a specific mat­ter.

Please remember, if a committee wishes to circulate a draft report to agencies or other persons outside the City Bar for review that too must first be approved by the President.

When a report has been by a committee, the report should be submitted in Word format for review through our online “Report Intake Form”. This form allows committees to provide some background information on their work and upload a report for consideration. The information provided will help with the review, finalization and of reports.

Submitted reports will be assessed by the Policy Department, who will coordinate any required review by other committees and convey to the President. If the President wants changes to be made to the report, they will be sent to the committee. If the President disapproves a report, committees are permitted to appeal of the decision to the Executive Committee (See By-Law XIV(8)). Reports approved by the President are considered official positions of the City Bar.

We recommend that committees use City Bar Central to save and catalog finalized reports for future reference.

Committees put significant time and resources towards crafting their reports and it is important that consideration also be given to how those reports will be conveyed to appropriate stakeholders so they can be impactful. The City Bar has various resources that can help with the distribution, promotion and advocacy of committee reports and positions.


We encourage wide dissemination of committee reports. reports will be posted on the City Bar’s website, provided there is no reason to refrain from posting. If requested or appropriate, the Policy Department can help committees prepare a targeted distribution of their report. They will coordinate distribution with the committee to ensure the report gets to the right people at the most impactful times. While most committees know who the appropriate audience should be, we can also help to identify key legislators, public officials and other bar associations or organizations that may have an interest in your recommendations. Any committee recommendations or requests related to distribution can be noted on the Report Intake Form when submitting a report for review. Committees are encouraged to consult with the Policy Department before distributing any reports, particularly in cases where the committee would like to engage in ongoing advocacy or when the committee is proposing legislation, so that we can coordinate efforts.

If a committee is filing an amicus brief or submitting a report for publication in a journal, magazine, etc., submission should be coordinated with the Policy Department and a copy of the brief or report as filed should be provided for our records and posting on the City Bar’s website. If an amicus brief is bound, a bound copy should also be provided to the Department.

Please note that the City Bar holds the copyright on any committee product and the right of first refusal on publication. If a publication wishes to print a committee report, please contact Eric Friedman, Communications Director, for permission to reprint.

Advocacy Following Release of a Report

One of the ways committees can stay involved beyond drafting and advance their policy recommendations is through advocacy. While the vast majority of the City Bar’s direct advocacy occurs at the city and state levels, committees can advocate for any of their relevant policy recommendations. For those committees that want to engage in advocacy work above and beyond the issuance of a report, the Policy Department can help. The City Bar’s ability to advocate for committee positions is directly tied to the level of involvement from committee members, so we strongly encourage committees to reach out to the Policy Department early in their report deliberations to coordinate efforts.

In partnership with committee members, we can help with advocacy in a number of ways, including:

  • working with committees to determine the appropriate strategy and timing of report distribution and helping to develop an advocacy plan (which may include utilizing the resources in our Communications Department to publicize a report or putting on a program to educate the public about the issue);
  • assisting in communicating committee views to policymakers and related stakeholders;
  • tracking developments related to legislation or an issue of interest and providing updates;
  • arranging meetings or lobby visits with individuals and organizations who would be responsible for implementing report recommendations;
  • convening a roundtable of related stakeholders to fully air an issue and develop a plan of action; and
  • working with committees to seek sponsors and advocate for legislation proposed by committees.

Our website provides a number of resources for committees interested in undertaking advocacy, such as best practices, tips for tracking legislation and ways to get involved in advocacy. Committees can also use our website and social media sites to receive news updates relevant to the City Bar’s policy work, learn when reports are posted on the web, and get updates on the status of bills they’ve commented on.

For more information, please contact Elizabeth Kocienda, Associate Director of Advocacy, at 212-382-4788 or ekocienda@nycbar.org.

Committee Programs

Organizing a program through the City Bar is another way to promote the ideas and issues in committee reports. Committees should consider planning CLE courses or educational events that highlight the topics in their reports. Creating a public forum where experts, advocates and other interested parties can have an open dialogue on an issue or newly enacted legislation provides an excellent opportunity to educate the profession and public and create interest in the topic. If you are interested in hosting an event at the City Bar, see the Programs section of the Handbook.

Many reports are appropriate subjects for publicity. Committees should work with the Communications Department to develop a strategy to draw media attention. To ensure the best possible coverage for reports and recommendations, please fill out all sections of the Report Intake Form and provide the Communications Department with the names of reporters and publications that you may wish to alert (Communications will also utilize the City Bar’s media contacts and resources). Committees hoping for significant media coverage should contact Communications early in the drafting stages to optimize later press coverage.

Committees are encouraged to prepare op-ed pieces (up to 650 words) and letters to the editor (up to 150 words) to draw further attention to reports. As with any committee report, op-ed pieces or letters the editor must be by the President, even when writing about approved City Bar positions. In order to provide maximum assistance and coordination, press releases, op-ed pieces and letters to the editor will be released only from the Communications Department or with its supervision. If a committee chair or member is writing an article or op-ed piece in her/his own name and not in their capacity as chair or member, they should not identify an affiliation with the City Bar, so as to avoid confusion as to whether the piece is presenting the City Bar’s positions.

The City Bar frequently receives calls from the media asking for background information or for City Bar positions on a wide variety of legal issues. These calls are handled through the Communications Department and are an excellent opportunity to call attention to a committees work on an issue. Committee chairs, or their designees, are expected to be available to the press not only to discuss committee reports, but also to advise reporters on subjects within the committee’s expertise. Please try to answer these requests in a timely manner, as deadlines are typically tight. If for some reason chairs are unable to handle the particular issue, they should refer it to someone on their committee who can.

When speaking with the media, committee members should be aware of their role as a spokesperson. If discussing a committee report or commenting on an issue about which the City Bar has an , members should be represented as “Chair or member of the New York City Bar’s Committee on .........” If a committee member is providing general background, they also can be identified with the City Bar. However, if a member is giving an opinion on an issue about which the City Bar does not have an official position, they are speaking as an individual and should be represented as such, without their City Bar affiliation.

Committee Programs & CLE Programs


  •  In order to book a program, please contact Ann Rappleye, Director of Programs, arappleye@nycbar.org 212-382-6606, Neysa Alsina, Counsel, nalsina@nycbar.org 212-382-6674, or Anilsa Paredes, Program Coordinator, aparedes@nycbar.org 212-382-4789. The Programs Office will review and approve the program content.
  • Once the program is approved, the Programs Office will work with the organizer(s) to book an appropriate date.
  • Specific rooms will not be guaranteed.
  • Committee members must complete an Event Intake form (Attachment A), either by submitting it through email or the Programs Office will take the information over the phone and complete the form. 
  • Once a program is approved and booked, the Program Organizer/Chair will be sent an email setting forth deadlines for the description and other relevant instructions.
    • CLE credit may be available for Committee-sponsored public events (outside of paid CLE Programs governed by the CLE process) solely at the discretion of the Programs Office and only where those programs are public interest or public policy-oriented.

Committees are urged to ensure that programs pres­ent a balanced view of the issues involved, and that panels of speakers include both male and female and representatives of both sexes and of minority groups.

Please note that transportation reimbursement for out-of-town speakers is discouraged. However, limited funds may be available for travel for out-of-town speakers when a New York-based speaker on a topic is not available. Please email or otherwise send the request to Ann Rappleye, arappleye@nycbar.org, 212-382-6606. Approval must be obtained prior to offering reimbursement to any speakers. Appropriate receipts must be attached to any request for reimbursement.

Because the subject matter of a given program typically will involve areas within the jurisdiction of other committees, it is recommended that each sponsoring committee invite one or more of such committees to be co-sponsors of the program. The sponsoring committee should examine the legal issues to be addressed by the program and review the committee list to determine which, if any, committees might have an interest in the subject matter.   The Programs Office will also suggest potential co-sponsoring committees and provide introductions, as needed.  Please coordinate with those committees at an early stage in the planning process. The sponsoring committee is expected to coordinate the degree of participation by each co-sponsoring committee. Committees are encouraged to act as co-sponsors when requested.

Once a committee agrees to co-sponsor a program, it should not simply lend its name to the program flyer, but should fully cooperate with the sponsoring committee in maximizing attendance. Co-sponsors should encourage the attendance of their own members, use their best efforts to obtain the attendance of others (by making available mailing lists, emailing invitations and the like) and otherwise make their advice available to the sponsoring committee as requested. Co-sponsoring committees may also be of assistance in obtaining speakers for the program.

Submit the program description and information to the Programs Office by the deadline set forth in the initial email from the Programs Office.  The City Bar posts programs on its website and sends them out as e-flyers via email. You must send the following information: title, date, start and end time, brief description (please limit to 60 words), and the names of the moderator and speakers along with their titles and affiliations.

In order to enhance the value of membership in the City Bar we are instituting a pricing structure to ensure that members receive added benefits by belonging to the City Bar. For many of our non-CLE programs, while members will attend for free, other attendees will be charged a modest fee. We recognize there will be pro­grams focusing on policy issues designed more for the general public and/or public interest-oriented programs, which still will be presented for free.  The Programs Office will suggest pricing for each program.

When a program has a cost involved due to providing food or beverages, or other expenses (including cost of materials, travel expenses for speakers, and equipment rental) members will pay a fee that is substantially lower than the fee non-members will pay. Our experience in setting modest charges for programs is that people who register are more likely to attend. Also, this pricing is designed to incentivize joining the Association, while keeping fees low enough so as not to impose pricing barriers for those who want to attend. The program fees will be collected through web registration process, so committees will not have to deal with those mechanics. Full menu selection options with associated pricing are identified in Attachment B.

One way to adjust cost is by sponsorships of program-related receptions (discussed below). Please feel free to contact Ann Rappleye if you have any questions regarding sponsorship.

Any revenues received in excess of expenditures will be applied for general use in developing the programs and work product of the City Bar committees.

Please consult with us before approaching potential funding sources to discuss any issues that may arise (e.g., two committees coincidentally seeking funding from the same entity at the same time), and other aspects of the arrangement (e.g., how restricted would the grant be; what conditions might be attached, and whether they would be acceptable to the City Bar).

We encourage you to solicit sponsors for your programs and receptions. Please consult Ann Rappleye (arappleye@nycbar.org or 212-382-6606) prior to approaching potential sponsors to form an outreach plan and to ensure that a broad base of potential sponsors is solicited.

Please keep in mind that the City Bar has a rich history in the sphere of public policy and legal reform and we want to strike the difficult but appropriate balance between allowing sponsorships while, at the same time, not appearing to explicitly endorse an entity that stands to gain monetarily from the sponsorship. This is why we are thoughtful about seeking support for substantive programs.

Committees may acknowledge the generosity of the entities supporting an event, both in a program or on a poster displayed on the day of the event, and orally during the event.

Special efforts should be made to build the widest possible audience for your program. We rely heav­ily on e-mail notices and will send notice of your program to relevant City Bar committees and City Bar members who practice in or have expressed an interest in the relevant subject area. We also include program listings on our own web calendar and in the 44th Street eNews. In addition, feel free to identify any specialized e-mail lists, listserves and other orga­nizations that you or your committee members can provide.

Our experience has shown that the most effective way of drawing an audience for a program is direct com­munication between committee members and their colleagues and contacts. Remember, if each commit­tee member brings two colleagues to a program that alone will place about 100 people in the audience. So please encourage committee members to distribute flyers or electronic notices at their firm or office and to organizations they know, and to email flyers or electronic notices to colleagues, perhaps with a “hope you can come” note on it.

City Bar programs in most rooms are routinely audiotaped; a complementary audiotape of your com­mittee’s program is available to the committee chair upon request. If you would like copies of the audio­tape to be available for sale to members and the public (and given to speakers upon request), or to post as a podcast on the City Bar’s website the committee must send waivers to speakers, and submit signed waivers to the Meeting Services Department. The waiver form is Attachment C.

Should your committee hold a program outside of the House of the Association, please be aware that it is the policy of the City Bar that none of the City Bar’s programs be held at clubs whose admission policies are known, or are publicly acknowledged, to be discriminatory on the basis or sex, color, race, religion, national origin, disability, age, marital status, gender identity or sexual preference.

CLE Programs

The Executive Committee encourages committees to develop continuing legal education programs. The programs can range from introductions to substan­tive topics, to updates for experienced practitioners, to hands-on training and practicums to develop and hone legal skills. These efforts are coordinated through the Programs Office.  Its staff will work with committees to develop CLE programs.

With CLE mandatory for all New York lawyers and with the City Bar accredited in four states there has been great interest in attending programs where CLE credit is offered. In addition to live programs the City Bar reaches over 40,000 people through its on­line partners. Please note that no program for which CLE credit is to be offered may be conducted with­out coordinating with the Programs Office.

When your committee begins to discuss a CLE program please follow these steps:

  • Please contact Ann Rappleye (212-382-6606 or arappleye@nycbar.org) or Gregory Binstock (212-382-6763 or gbinstock@nycbar.org) to discuss the initial planning of the program. They will be able to advise you re­garding programs covering similar subject areas which have been held in the recent past or are planned for the future, and how the  Programs Office can work with the committee on program development.
  • Work with the staff to choose a date for the proposed CLE program. CLE programs are scheduled for the Fall season (September through December) the prior May; CLE programs for the Winter/Spring season (January through June) are scheduled the prior October; and Summer programs (July and August) are scheduled the prior April. The Programs Office routinely sends emails to the Committee Chairs soliciting CLE program ideas in advance of these deadlines.
  • Identify proposed panelists or speakers for the CLE program. Committees are urged to present diversified panels of speakers.
  • Develop the program’s agenda and schedule as early as possible. This enables the Programs Office to make the necessary arrangements for announcing and adver­tising the program.
  • Work with the assigned staff attorney in refining the program agenda, obtaining written materials from the speakers and identifying the intended audience. The Programs Office will be responsible for coordinating the program arrangements, including making space and catering reservations, advertising and announcing the program, collecting and editing the accompany­ing written materials. The City Bar Center will also run registration, collect evaluations and ensure MCLE compliance by:  distributing CLE certificates, determining the CLE credit breakdown, filing the required information with the CLE Board and maintaining program records for the period required under the MCLE rules.

Precise deadlines and more details regarding the foregoing will be set forth in written communications once the date of the program is secured and the pro­gram chair is appointed.

Committees sponsoring CLE programs are encouraged to identify, during the planning stages, committees sharing subject matter jurisdiction. Co-sponsorship with outside organizations will be considered; how­ever, any co-sponsorship must be organized and agreed to by the Director of Programs.

The Programs Office requires assistance from sponsoring committee(s) in marketing to ensure its CLE programs are well-attended. In addition to encouraging attendance of committee members and colleagues, suggestions regarding lists and/or names of publications and associations that the Programs Office should contact and/or advertise in are helpful. To that end, providing client or contact lists to the Programs Office for its marketing efforts also assists in increasing attendance.

The Regulations and Guidelines of the State’s CLE Board require that:

Written materials must be prepared or compiled specifically for the accredited course or program and must specifically address each topic presented.

Materials must reflect that they are timely or that they have been updated with specific reference to the course or program.

Materials must cover those matters which one would expect for a comprehensive and professional treatment of the subject matter of the course of pro­gram.

Brief outlines without citations or explanatory notations will not suffice. The Programs Office reserves the right to edit, delete and supplement the materials, subject to consultation with the committee.

Names, titles, addresses and telephone numbers of the speakers should be submitted to the Programs Office as soon as possible in order for the staff to secure the necessary releases from the speakers to permit the City Bar to audiotape or videotape the proceedings and make them available along with the written materials to those who could not attend.

In accordance with an Executive Committee resolu­tion, an attendance fee (which includes a materials fee) will be charged for all CLE programs. The Executive Committee has delegated to the Executive Director the authority to set the appropriate charge for the program.  CLE attendance fees not only allow the Programs Office to continue to provide approximately 130 unique CLE programs each year, but they also assist in funding the many public service programs the City Bar sponsors.

The City Bar Center for CLE is an accredited pro­vider for online programs as well as a fully accredited provider in New York, California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Most CLE programs are webcast and placed online for on demand viewing for approxi­mately one year.

Committees are invited to work with other orga­nizations, law schools and student organizations, in developing programs. However, co-sponsorship should only be undertaken if your committee will be substantially involved in developing the program. If any questions arise regarding co-sponsorship, please contact Ann Rappleye.