Tuesday, September 7, 2010
From the President: Samuel W. Seymour City Bar 2.0
This Week at the City Bar
Around the Bar:Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program
Committees Seeking Members
Recent Committee Activity
Legislative Update
City Bar in the News
Coming Next Week – Boot Camp 2010: Basic Training For Lawyers

From the President: Samuel W. Seymour

City Bar 2.0
I don’t need to tell you about the rapid evolution of electronic communication, because it permeates our law practices and private lives. But I am pleased to tell you how, in order to keep pace with that evolution, the City Bar is changing the way it communicates with its members and the public.

First, what you are reading now is the latest iteration of the 44th Street Notes, which began as a monthly newsletter and later moved online. Now, in an effort to make the Notes more relevant and useful for you, we are shifting to weekly email distribution. Distributed on Monday mornings, the new Notes are designed to be a guide to the upcoming week’s events and CLE courses, and a report on recent, notable events at the City Bar; the latest committee reports and legislative activity; media coverage of the City Bar; and more.

I am delighted also to report that we are in the final stages of redesigning the City Bar’s Web site. It’s a big project, considering the amount of information on our existing site. Among the new features we are most excited about is the 44th Street Blog, in which we will update what’s going on at the City Bar in real time. Overall, you will find the site elegant in design and easier to navigate, whatever your particular interest. Look for the new site to roll out in the weeks ahead.

Web 2.0, the “social” web, is now everywhere, and like many of you, we are no longer asking “if” we will make use of social media, but “how.” You can see how to find us in a variety of social media here.

The City Bar has long been the place where practitioners network and share information, and what’s exciting about the new Web tools is that they will allow us to expand on that role. In that spirit, I hope you will be a regular visitor not only to our historic House at 42 West 44th Street, but to the City Bar online as well.

This Week at the City Bar

Tuesday, 9 AM – 11 AM, CLE
Video Replay
Foreign & International Law in US Courts: How to Locate Applicable Law to Prove Your Case

Wednesday, 8:30 AM – 10 AM, Event
"Breakfast with the Candidates" - Attorney General Primary Debate

Wednesday, 9 AM – 12 PM, CLE
Video Replay
The Business of Being Green: How Emerging Laws Make Sustainability an Imperative

Around the Bar
Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program

On August 10th, John Marshall, the son of the Hon. Thurgood Marshall and previously Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety, joined Hon. Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the New York City courts, and program Chair Edwina Frances Martin, to honor this year’s 53 participants in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program. From left: Edwina Frances Martin, interns Juan Vasquez, Stephanie Clemente, Yohannes Seyum, Biniyam Estifanos, John Marshall, Hon. Fern Fisher.

Part of the New York City Bar’s continuing efforts to enhance the diversity of the legal profession, the program places high-achieving inner-city high school students with legal employers for the summer. Since its inception in 1993, the program has placed 2,000 students in law firms, corporate law departments, non-profit/government organizations, and law schools throughout the city.

Committees Seeking Members

The AIDS Committee's recent work includes sponsoring a CLE program on the lifting of the HIV travel and immigration ban and submitting comments on proposed regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act, legislation to allow federal funding for syringe exchange programs, and state legislation affecting people living with HIV. In the coming year the committee anticipates working on issues including access to HIV health care in NYS prisons and implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. To apply, please contact the Chair, Bebe Anderson, at banderson@lambdalegal.org or 212.809.8585 x218.

The Asian Affairs Committee addresses a wide range of issues relating to Asia, such as technology transfer for climate change, rule of law, doing business with Asian countries, and significant legal and other developments in Asia. The committee is seeking members who have an interest in Asia. To apply please contact the Chair, Jaipat S. Jain at jjain@lpgllp.com or 212.784.2418.

The Bioethical Issues Committee examines the ethical as well as legal aspects of health-related matters. This past year, the committee had speakers from the New York Organ Donor Network and The Eye Bank, co-sponsored a program with the Drugs and Law Committee on Physician Liability with Celebrity Patients, and addressed proposed legislation on Palliative Care. Some of the other issues the committee is interested in are: assisted suicide, stem cell research and legislation, and electronic health records and confidentiality. To apply please contact the Chair, Beverly Jones, at bjones1@health.nyc.gov.

The Domestic Violence Committee works to identify policy initiatives and address ongoing issues relating to domestic violence in New York. The committee considers legislation and policies benefiting domestic violence survivors and works collaboratively with other City Bar committees and community groups to achieve its objectives. Recent committee reports can be found here. To apply, please send your resume to the Chair, Sandra Park, at spark@aclu.org.

The Law Student Perspectives Committee addresses career options, education management, and development skills training for law students. The committee plans programs on topics ranging from how to manage a job search to non-traditional careers for attorneys. Members of this committee include law students from local law schools as well as practitioners. Bar Association membership and involvement as a student can lead to lifelong professional relationships and enable students to gain valuable insight into legal practice. To apply, please send your resume to the Chair, Jessica Silverstein, at lspnycchair@yahoo.com.

The Committee on Legal Services for Persons of Moderate Means organizes a variety of programs to meet the legal needs of clients of moderate means. The committee oversees the Monday Night Law Program, a weekly clinic in which volunteer lawyers provide free, 30-minute counseling sessions in several legal areas, and sponsors public programs on specific legal topics relevant to clients of moderate means. In the past year, the committee sponsored a landlord-tenant law program (a panel presentation followed by counseling sessions) at the City Bar in May and an immigration lecture presented in both English and Mandarin in Flushing in July. The committee looks forward to exploring new projects in the next year to enhance access to legal services. To apply, please contact the Chair, Rosie Rubin, at 212.930.1219 or rrubin@lswlaw.com.

The State Affairs Committee is involved in influencing policy and educating on issues of state affairs important to New York’s citizens. The committee's recent work has focused on state legislative reform. In the upcoming year, the committee will continue its work on legislative rules and procedures reform, and also will focus its efforts on investigations and ethics as well as the role and use of Gubernatorial executive orders. To apply, please contact the Chair, Loren Gesinsky, at 212.613.2017 or lgesinsky@gibbonslaw.com.

The Transportation Committee addresses federal, state, and local transportation law and policy issues. Getting from point A to point B in NYC raises a host of legal and regulatory issues, from transit strikes to congestion pricing to hybrid taxi requirements to airline runway auctions. The Transportation Committee intends to tackle them all, with a lively and thought-provoking series of guest speakers and initiatives. To apply, please contact the chair, John Dellaportas, at dellajo@duanemorris.com.

Recent Committee Activity Includes:

Concern about the Rwandan Government’s Arrest and Detention of Professor Peter Erlinder
The African Affairs and International Human Rights Committees drafted a letter, signed by City Bar President Sam Seymour, to the President of the Republic of Rwanda expressing concerns about the Rwandan government’s arrest and detention of Professor Peter Erlinder. The letter argues that the government’s actions contravene the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which were adopted to guarantee the professional independence of lawyers and the right to due process recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Support for Limiting Shelter Costs of HIV/AIDS Patients
The AIDS and Social Welfare Law Committees issued a report expressing support for A.2565/S.2664, which would ensure that clients of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) pay no more than 30% of their household’s monthly earned income and/or disability income towards shelter costs, including rent and utilities. The 30% rent cap, the report argues, would reduce homelessness by supporting longer-term housing stability, and improve health and HIV prevention outcomes, while shifting spending away from inappropriate and costly crisis services to stable and long-term housing.

Enhancing Venue Provision for Identity Theft Offenses
The Criminal Justice Operations Committee issued a report expressing support for S.7588, which would enhance the venue provision for the offenses of identity theft, unlawful possession of personal identification information, and related crimes, by permitting such crimes to be prosecuted in the county 1) where the offense or part of the offense took place; 2) in which the person who suffered financial loss resided at the time of the offense; or 3) where the person whose personal identification information was used resided at the time of the offense.

Endorsing the Direct Assignment Proposal to Magistrate Judges
The Federal Courts Committee issued a report on the :One Case / One Judge; Proposal for the Southern District of New York Regarding Direct Assignment to Magistrate Judges. The report endorses the Direct Assignment Proposal submitted to the Magistrate Judges Committee by SDNY Magistrate Judges. The Proposal recommends that the names of magistrate judges be included in the civil case assignment wheel and drawn at the time and in the same manner as a district court judge, and that the proportion of cases directly assigned to magistrate judges be adjusted from time to time to balance the workload of all judicial officers. The report notes that other districts have implemented similar programs and have experienced a number of benefits, including better case disposition times, greater efficiency, reduced workloads for district judges, and improved case management, and all at no increased cost to the taxpayers.

Report on the City Bar・s Mission to China
The Council on International Affairs issued a report on the New York City Bar Association's Mission to China last December. The report outlines the results of the mission・s meetings with the two largest bar associations in China, the Beijing Lawyers Association and the Shanghai Bar Association, to discuss matters of mutual concern, including the training and independence of lawyers and the administration of justice. The report recommends that the New York City Bar Association continue its dialogue with the Beijing Lawyers Association and the Shanghai Bar Association, and that among the discussion topics should be the independence of lawyers and the cases of lawyers who have been jailed or otherwise punished, and issues related to professional training and responsibility.

Preferential Trade Agreements and the WTO: Impetus or Impediment?
The International Trade Committee issued a report examining preferential trade agreements of both the United States and the European Union to determine if there was any actual benefit derived from those PTAs that could not have been otherwise achieved via the larger-scale multilateral World Trade Organization negotiations. The report concludes that the completion of the Doha Development Round negotiation is a priority and is a more effective way than preferential trade agreements to reduce tariffs and to further harmonize trading systems globally.

Addressing e-Discovery in New York
The Council on Judicial Administration wrote a letter to the E-discovery Working Group of the New York State Unified Court System commenting on the Working Group・s report on electronic discovery. The report urges the Working Group to: 1) address and endorse necessary changes to the CPLR that are essential to establishing consistency and providing for enforceable e-discovery rules; and 2) identify and consider current resources already developed to assist the Working Group and the courts in addressing e-discovery issues.

Prohibiting the Tail Docking of Cattle
The Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals Committee issued a report supporting A.9732, which would amend the New York Agriculture & Markets Law to prohibit the tail docking of cattle. Individuals engaging in such activity would be guilty of a misdemeanor, and an animal found on the premises with an unhealed wound from the cutting of bone, tissues, muscles, or tendons of a cut tail would constitute prima facie evidence of a violation by the owner or user of the premises, or by the person having charge or custody.

Repealing Don・t Ask, Don・t Tell
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Committee testified before the New York City Council supporting Intro. No. 169-A, which would urge Congress to pass language in the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that would repeal Don・t Ask, Don・t Tell, the U.S. military・s ban on open service by lesbian, gay, or bisexual individuals.

Legislative Update

Despite a session filled with tense budget negotiations, political scandal, and legislative deadlock, City Bar committees achieved a substantial number of legislative successes this year, including the passage of a number of bills that had long been supported by the Association, such as the Family Health Care Decisions Act and no-fault divorce. A full list of bills supported by the City Bar which were signed into law this session is below. Congratulations to the committees on all of their excellent reports, testimony and advocacy, and for continuing to make the City Bar a meaningful policy voice in New York.
  • A.5898-A/S.3070–A – Supported by the Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals Committee, this legislation eliminates the 21-year limit for the duration of pet trusts.
  • A.7670/S.4429 – Supported by the Sex and Law Committee, this legislation will allow victims of sex trafficking to vacate certain prostitution offenses that appear on their criminal record.
  • A7729–D/S.3164–B – Supported by the Health Law Committee and the Bioethical Issues Committee, the Family Health Care Decisions Act establishes procedures for making health care decisions on behalf of patients unable to decide about treatment for themselves.
  • A.7805–B/S.5461–B – Supported by the Council on Children, this legislation will replace the term "law guardian" with the term "attorney for the child" to more accurately reflect the attorney's role.
  • A.8524/S.3868–A – Supported by the Council on Children, this legislation authorizes the family court, in certain situations, to restore a birth parent's parental rights after they have been terminated.
  • A.9706–C/S.6606–B – This budget bill included a number of provisions supported by the Corrections Committee and Labor and Employment Law Committee aimed at lowering recidivism rates and helping individuals with criminal records successfully reenter society
  • A.9710–D/S.6610-C – This budget bill included a provision supported by the Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Courts Committee and the Estate and Gift Taxation Committee that would amend the tax law in relation to the amount of the unified credit against the estate tax.
  • A.9857–C/S.8056 – Supported by the Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Courts Committee and the Estate and Gift Taxation Committee, this legislation provides for the interpretation of trust and will clauses relating to federal estate taxes and generation-skipping transfer taxes when the decedent dies during 2010.
  • A.9753–A/S.3890–A – Supported by the Matrimonial Law Committee, this bill will allow for a judgment of divorce to be granted to either spouse without assigning fault to either of the parties, provided that the major ancillary issues have been resolved.
  • A.8396–A/S.5620–A – Supported by the AIDS Committee and Drugs and the Law Committee, this legislation makes it explicit that a person is not criminally liable for possessing syringes and drug residue in or on syringes that the person has a right to possess based on his or her participation in a state approved syringe exchange program.
For more information, please visit the Legislative Affairs section of the Web site.
City Bar in the News

New York Law Journal, August 20, 2010
City Bar Enters Debate Over Site of Mosque Near Ground Zero
By Daniel Wise

“The New York City Bar issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday defending the right of Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque, two blocks from ground zero, saying .our nation is the stronger, both internally and in its standing in the world, for preserving religious freedom.・ The statement issued by City Bar President Samuel W. Seymour placed the association in the midst of a political debate stirred by President Barack Obama・s defense last week of Muslims・ right to build the mosque as reflecting religious freedoms that are .essential to who we are.・”
“Mr. Seymour's statement supported Mr. Bloomberg's decision not to interfere with the site of the proposed center. .Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our constitution and our democratic traditions; indeed it is what brought many of the nation's early settlers to our shores, and millions more since,・ the statement continued. Mr. Seymour said in an interview he had decided to issue a .narrow constitutional statement・ rather than addressing .the entire spectrum of political and emotional issues at play.・ Mr. Seymour said he relied on a wealth of reports the city bar has issued in support of preserving constitutional rights which have come under siege since 9/11.“

New York Law Journal, August 11, 2010
ABA Votes Overwhelmingly to Support Gay Marriage
By Nate Raymond

“The American Bar Association's governing body yesterday voted in favor of supporting same-sex marriage at the urging of 14 groups, including two New York bar associations. The measure, supported by the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar, calls for the elimination of state, territorial and tribal laws restricting marriage between same-sex partnersK.The city bar, .as one of the original sponsors of the ABA's resolution,・ is .extremely gratified・ to learn of its passage, said city bar president Samuel W. Seymour, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell.“

New York Law Journal, August 5, 2010
New York City Bar Pushes for Multijurisdictional Practice Rules
By Nate Raymond

“The New York City Bar is pushing to change the state's rules governing attorney conflicts and discipline to better accommodate lawyers and law firms that practice both here and in other states and countries. The proposed changes, outlined in a 20-page report, would allow New York lawyers handling non-litigation matters, such as deals and investigations, to follow attorney conduct rules in place outside the state. The City Bar also proposed limiting the extent New York's ethics rules are applied outside the state, something the bar group said has caused an .unnecessary restriction on client choice.・“
Coming Next Week for Law Students and Recent Graduates
September 14 and 16, 12:45 - 5:30 pm

Boot Camp 2010: Basic Training for Lawyers
This program will provide law students and recent law graduates with career planning information particularly relevant in a troubled economy, as well as practical and substantive insights into the practice of law. Topics will include how to perform an effective job search, communication skills, how to draft corporate documents, analyzing a court decision, and drafting research memos. Boot Camp is free to students and alumni of sponsoring law schools.

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