IN THIS ISSUE : MONDAY, JULY 18, 2011
From the President: Samuel W. Seymour
This Week at the City Bar        
Around the Bar
Member Profile: Charis G. Orzechowski
Recent Committee Activity
Committee Seeking Members
Volunteer for Monday Night Law
City Bar in the News
   

President's Letter
June was the Month for Marriage Equality


The month of June brought equality to same-sex couples who wish to marry in New York. The New York City Bar Association commends Governor Cuomo and the Legislature on the historic passage of legislation that allows same-sex couples to have the same legal status that all married couples enjoy, with its attendant rights, duties, benefits, and obligations under the law. It’s a goal that the City Bar, along with a host of other organizations and individuals, worked long and hard to achieve, and we applaud the steadfast efforts of all those who contributed to this achievement.

Perhaps the City Bar’s most talked-about contribution was the 2007 report we issued with the Empire State Pride Agenda, “1,324 Reasons for Marriage Equality in New York State.” The report sought to catalogue all of the statutes and regulations that provide benefits to married couples, which are effectively denied those who cannot marry. This staggering number of denied rights proved to be a powerful factor for many legislators as they contemplated this issue, including Senator Mark Grisanti, who mentioned the 1,300-plus rights as contributing to his decision to support the marriage equality legislation.

Read more here.

This Week at the City Bar
TUESDAY, JULY 19
6 PM 9 PM, CLE
The 2010 “Temporary” Estate, Gift & GST Tax Law


WEDNESDAY, JULY 20
6 PM 9 PM, CLE
Supreme Court – A Year in Review


THURSDAY, JULY 21
9 AM 5 PM, CLE
16-Hour Bridge-the-Gap: Ethics, Skills & More (Day 2 Only)

6 PM 9 PM, Event

What It's Really Like to Practice Law as a Woman


FRIDAY, JULY 22
9 AM 11:45 AM, CLE
Ethical Issues in the Practice of Real Estate: What Every Attorney Must Know When Handling a Transaction (Video Replay)


Next Week at the City Bar
TUESDAY, JULY 26
9 AM 12 PM, CLE
Selected Ethics Issues in Mediation & Settlement Negotiations (Video Replay)


WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
9 AM 12 PM, CLE
Padilla v. Kentucky: Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions (Video Replay)

5:30 PM 9 PM, CLE
Using Bankruptcy to Retain Real Estate Ownership


THURSDAY, JULY 28
9 AM 12 PM, CLE
Unleash Investigative Research Information from Social Media Profiles While Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls

1 PM 4 PM, CLE
The Google Powered Law Office: Search Tricks, Cloud Apps, and Research Tips

6 PM 8:30 PM, CLE

When Real Estate Deals Go Bad: Effective Tools to Overcome 2011’s Trickiest Road Blocks

Around the Bar
Students Participate in Speed Networking Event

On July 14th, participants in the City Bar’s Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program took part in a Speed Networking event at ABC News, where they met with 23 practicing attorneys and professionals. Students in the program will complete six-week internships at law firms, non-profits, and corporate legal departments throughout the city and will participate in weekly development programs to supplement their internships, including a law class at Columbia University School of Law, a visit to a NYS Supreme Court judicial chamber, and multiple career development workshops with a diverse group of attorneys. More information about the Program is available at: http://www.nycbar.org/sleop

Member Profile: Charis G. Orzechowski
The Long Haul to the Legal Profession


Of all the things you might expect to hear from the Treasurer/Secretary of one of the New York City Bar Association’s committees, one of the last might be, “The first tractor-trailer I drove was a 13-speed Freightliner Classic.” Granted, it is the Transportation Law Committee, but even so, Charis G. Orzechowski hardly fits the mold.

Charis’s road, as it were, to the City Bar was not without detours. After hauling “everything from computer parts to mozzarella cheese,” and delivering dry goods from a distribution warehouse to Tri-State-area Stop & Shops, she quit driving and went into training to take the police exam. One day at the gym she was approached by a retired police officer and current community college professor of Criminal Justice who told her if he could do it all over again he’d go back to school and study Political Science and minor in Chinese. So Charis enrolled at SUNY New Paltz and majored in Political Science with a minor in Asian studies and Chinese.

Read more here.

Recent Committee Activity
Destitute Children
The Committee on Family Court and Family Law expressed support for A.7836-A/S.5694-A and A.8339/S.5745, which would amend the Family Court Act and the Social Services Law to bring children who come into the custody of local social services districts under the jurisdiction of the Family Court. The passage of these bills, the report argues, is essential because they would entitle destitute children to placement in an appropriate setting as well as ongoing judicial review of needed permanency planning.

Judicial Salaries

The Council on Judicial Administration issued a report urging the New York State Judicial Compensation Commission to increase salaries for Justices of the Supreme Court of New York State, effective April 1, 2012, to no less than $195,000, with proportionate increases for all other New York State Court Judges. As the last judicial salary increase occurred in 1999, the $195,000 salary for Supreme Court Justices, although a substantial increase over current salaries, would simply take into account the adjustment in current judicial salaries to reflect the change in cost of living from 1999 to 2012. A higher increase would be justified, given the judges’ loss of purchasing power since 1999, the growth in the disparity with private sector salaries, and the disparity between salaries of New York judges and judges in other states. The report notes that an increase of this size is crucial in order to maintain the quality of the courts and their reputation, and only by increasing the salaries paid to New York State’s judges will New York be able to recruit and retain the best candidates for the bench from New York State’s diverse communities.

Committee Seeking Members
The African Affairs Committee invites law professionals and students who are passionate about African legal and policy issues to apply to join our committee, which works to strengthen the rule of law, administration of justice, and social and economic development in Africa. The primary focus of the Committee is to investigate, understand, and report on legal and policy developments throughout the Continent. In so doing, the Committee regularly sponsors Africa-related speakers and events, many of which are open to the public. Similarly, subcommittees investigate and report on specific issues (such as African business development, gender issues, and access to justice) to judicial and legal organizations, government officials, and other relevant decision-makers. To learn more about the Committee or to apply to become a member, please contact Christina Holder, Chair, at christina.holder@cwt.com.

Volunteer for Monday Night Law
The Committee on Legal Services for Persons of Moderate Means is seeking volunteer attorneys to staff the Monday Night Legal Advisory Workshop, which begins its 21st year this fall. New volunteers are needed for the Monday Night Law program year, which will run from October through August 2012. Volunteers are needed to staff MNL one Monday per month during that period. A two-part training will be held in September.

Monday Night Law addresses the need for affordable and accessible legal assistance in a clinic setting each week. During 30-minute appointments, clients and volunteer attorneys discuss problems in the areas of housing, employment, family/divorce, consumer, and personal bankruptcy, as well as small business. The volunteer attorneys do not take cases, but provide clinic-based advice. They distribute materials, explain procedures, and offer suggestions to help clients understand and find solutions to their legal problems. MNL volunteers make referrals, where appropriate, to the City Bar’s Legal Referral Service, City Bar Justice Center, or other legal services providers.

Volunteer attorneys must commit to attending the program one Monday evening per month from October 2011 through the end of August 2012, at the New York City Bar Association. Volunteers also must attend both training sessions, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., on Monday, Sept. 12, and Monday, Sept. 26, also at the City Bar. Attendees are eligible for continuing legal education for the live trainings, as well as pro bono CLE credits for their clinic work. Volunteers may take the training via CD audio recordings that will be available in late October, but the audio does not carry CLE credit.

No prior experience in the topics covered is necessary; however, volunteers must have been admitted to practice for a minimum of two years. For more information and an application to participate, please provide full contacts including an e-mail address that accepts attachments to MondayNightLaw@gmail.com. The application form and background information will begin to be sent by e-mail in late July. All training course materials will be sent by e-mail attachment in advance of the programs.

City Bar in the News
New York Times, July 17, 2011

Commission to Set Raises for Judges in New York State Is Flooded With Suggestions
The panel, the Judicial Compensation Commission, was created last year after the Legislature had failed for 12 years to agree on a raise for judges.…The commission will hold its first – and probably only – public hearing on Wednesday in Albany. As a result, its members, appointed by the governor, legislative leaders and the state’s chief judge, are being inundated with formulas and charts. The suggestions include every manner of numerical calculation, with most using as a point of reference the current $136,700 salary of State Supreme Court justices.…Each interest group had its own math. The New York City Bar Association argued that given how expensive it is to live in New York City, Supreme Court justices would have to earn $212,000 to be paid in line with the salaries of other big-city judges across the country.


New York Law Journal, July 14, 2011

Stagnant Salaries Affect Quality of the Bench, Bar Groups Say
Two New York City bar organizations recommended to a judicial compensation commission yesterday that state court judges be granted pay raises of around 40 percent…“By any measure, New York state’s judges currently are severely underpaid, and they and their families have paid a heavy price for remaining on the bench without an increase for over a decade,” the New York City Bar said in its recommendation to the seven-member commission that began work this week. Current salary levels are “woefully deficient” to maintain the quality of the state’s judiciary, the city bar said, noting that the judges’ salaries trail those of private attorneys, federal judges and even some of the state court’s non-judicial employees. “Stagnant and inadequate compensation deters qualified lawyers in the private sector from seeking to become judges, resulting in a loss of experience and perspective which are invaluable to courts in a major commercial and cultural state such as New York,” the city bar said.


Daily Tax Report, July 12, 2011

NYC Bar Panel Asks IRS to Clarify FATCA Rules for Trusts, PFICs
The New York City Bar Committee on Estate and Gift Taxation is asking the government to clarify the reporting rules for trusts and passive foreign investment companies (PFICs) under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The development comes as taxpayers try to figure out how to apply the new law’s requirement that they report their interest in foreign financial assets, as well as the new rule that PFIC shareholders must report information about their holdings to IRS each year.…In a June 13 letter to the Internal Revenue Service, the committee asked the agency to provide exceptions to trust reporting under new tax code Section 6038D. The section requires taxpayers with “any interest in a specified foreign financial asset” to attach information about their assets to their tax returns. In the PFIC area, the letter discussed the new FATCA rule that PFIC shareholders must annually report their holdings to the government and asked IRS to make certain exceptions.


New York Law Journal, July 11, 2011

Bar Group Leaders Support Civil Trial for Terror Suspect
Leaders of two major bar groups welcomed the decision of the Obama administration last week to try Somali terror suspect Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame in Manhattan federal court. Mr. Warsame was captured in the waters off the Horn of Africa and held in a U.S. Navy ship for two months while he was interrogated, first by intelligence agents and then by law enforcement officers who gave him Miranda warnings. He was brought to New York on July 4. The administration’s handling of the case was denounced by some lawmakers.…But the presidents of both the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar reiterated their organizations’ long-standing support for trying alleged terrorists in U.S. civilian courts.…Samuel W. Seymour, president of the city bar, stated that the prosecution of Mr. Warsame in federal court “illustrates the effectiveness and flexibility of the tools and systems currently available, and underscores that there is no need for the major changes regarding handling alleged terrorists that are under discussion in Congress.”

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