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NYCBAR Welcomes New President: Betsy Plevan Identifies Priorities

Sep 2004

"As an active member of the Association for 30 years, I had high expectations of the Association?s work and members. My expectations have been met and surpassed. The breadth of subjects our committees tackle and our national and international reach is astounding. I am most fortunate for the opportunity to be President of this Association."

The Association is also fortunate to have Bettina B. Plevan (known as Betsy) as President. From her childhood years where she lobbied to join the boys? little league and tennis teams, to her more recent years when she chaired several Association committees, including the Council on Judicial Administration and State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction, Betsy Plevan has been active in breaking stereotypes and promoting justice. Ms. Plevan has adeptly juggled her work as a senior partner at Proskauer Rose, LLP, with her vast public service and bar association activities. Her legal talent earned her the accolade of being named one of the best employment and labor law attorneys in the country by the National Law Journal.

The substantive priorities that Ms. Plevan hopes to accomplish during her tenure are therefore, unsurprisingly ambitious. According to Plevan, "My main hope is that I have the time to accomplish everything I want to do."

There is little doubt that she will accomplish the following, and more:

1) Pro Bono There is an ever-growing need for civil legal services that far outstrips the resources available. Whether they are facing eviction in housing court, termination of parental rights in family court or seeking benefits for survival, poor New Yorkers can face insurmountable barriers if forced into court without a lawyer. Ms. Plevan has already started working to decrease the numbers of New Yorkers forced to face these life altering situations without a lawyer. She is actively encouraging law firms and other law offices to work more closely with the City Bar Fund to facilitate pro bono opportunities. Her efforts will be systemic, directed at finding creative ways to change the culture of law firms so that pro bono is an expectation of all attorneys.

2) Diversity Ms. Plevan expects the Association and its new Office of Diversity to lead in the effort to provide corporate law departments and law firms with tangible action items to increase diversity in their practices. Ninety-five law firms and law departments have already signed on to the Association?s Statement of Diversity Principles. Efforts will now focus on retention and increasing diversity in the upper echelons of these firms and law departments while expanding the definition of diversity to include gender, minorities, sexual orientation and persons with disabilities.

3) Civil Rights in Times of Terrorism While the Association understands the need for heightened security in these times, we are concerned that recent actions needlessly abridge civil liberties and civil rights. The Association has submitted amicus briefs and drafted reports on the treatment of citizen detainees and enemy combatants. Under the leadership of Ms. Plevan the Association will continue to call for due process and a day in court for all detainees. It will insist that the courts maintain their constitutional role of reviewing Executive actions to preserve the rule of law.

4) Corporate Misconduct After this difficult and traumatic period related to corporate governance, Ms. Plevan plans to oversee a special Association task force that will conduct a broad exploration of the role of lawyers in corporate governance. The task force will examine the possibilities of attorneys influencing the behavior of their clients to avoid criminal and negligent behavior without sacrificing the unwavering obligation of loyalty by a lawyer to his or her client.

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