March 2014           News | Upcoming Programs & CLE | Reports | Get Involved


Constructive Perspectives: Are New York's Construction Safety and Insurance Laws Serving the Public?
March 13
8:00 AM -
2:30 PM

Occasioned by the recent interest in New York's Scaffold Law, a series of panels will provide a multi-disciplinary and broad exploration of issues related to construction site safety and construction project risk management.

The Current State of Bail Practice in New York For Criminal Practitioners
April 28
6:30 - 8:30 PM

Bail practice in New York is changing, even as it seems to remain ever the same. This free CLE will examine the current issues in bail practice and cover topics such as Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's proposed legislation, the mechanics of posting various types of bail in New York City, and the issue of prevention detection.


Lobbying 101
April 30
9:00 AM -
12:00 PM

A practical introduction to the subject of advocacy and lobbying. The panel will cover the nuts and bolts of how to build an effective advocacy campaign--and how to do so within the law.

Missed a Program? You Can Still Benefit! CLE Programs' CDs, DVDs and other course
materials can be found on the website.


City Bar Releases 2014 State Legislative Agenda

(L) Kelly Williams and Larry Norden of the Brennan Center with City Bar Legislative Director Maria Cilenti (right) at the “Women in Leadership” event; (R) Maria Cilenti (third from left) with members of the NYS Coalition for More Family Court Judges.

The New York City Bar Association has released its 2014 State Legislative Agenda. This agenda represents only a portion of the dozens of positions generated by our committees over the course of each legislative session. It focuses on issues that are relevant to the current legislative debate or of particular importance to the City Bar, as well as legislative proposals drafted by our committees. Click here to read more.

Legislative Director Maria Cilenti has recently participated in advocacy events as part of the effort to pursue the City Bar’s state agenda. Maria recently spoke at a ‘Women in Leadership’ event focused on bringing public campaign finance to New York (read full statement here). On March 5th, she traveled to Albany with other advocates to call for additional Family Court judges in New York State.

Breakfast with New York City’s Public Advocate
The City Bar hosted a breakfast with New York City’s new Public Advocate, Letitia James. The event, attended by representatives of the City Bar’s committees that do policy work at the City level, provided an opportunity for members to hear directly from the Public Advocate about her policy agenda.

Ms. James outlined her extensive agenda items, including public housing, homelessness, education reform and recidivism. Attendees were able to ask questions related to their committee work, providing a unique opportunity for an open dialogue on some of the pressing issues facing the City. Of note were discussions about how the Public Advocate’s office could assist in linking constituents up with legal services providers and how best to serve members of the community most in need of legal assistance. Pictures from the event can be found here.

Protecting Social Welfare
In a joint letter to the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, the Committees on Children & the Law; Civil Rights; Domestic Violence; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights; New York City Affairs; Sex & Law; and Social Welfare, as well as the Council on Children, outlined a number of suggested priorities for the administration which would serve to protect the social welfare and equal protection of New Yorkers. The suggestions include: 1) support breastfeeding mothers; 2) ensure access to subsistence benefits for the neediest New Yorkers; 3) improve the relationship between social welfare agencies and vulnerable New Yorkers such as individuals with disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, sponsored immigrants and LGBTQ individuals; and 4) implement new tools to promote child wellness.

Recommended NYC Policies
Several City Bar committees have written to the new mayoral administration in recent months. In a letter to Mayor de Blasio, the Committee on AIDS recommended a number of issues for his Administration to address regarding persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York City, including: (i) providing affordable housing protection and increasing rental assistance levels; (ii) eliminating restrictions on the use of federal funds for landlord/tenant proceedings; and (iii) prohibiting the use of condoms as evidence in prosecutions.

The Committee on Domestic Violence wrote to the de Blasio Administration, identifying the following as key issues for the administration to focus on in the context of adopting a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence: (i) promoting collaboration among agencies regarding U-visa certification policies; (ii) protecting domestic violence victims’ access to public housing; (iii) creating supervised visitation centers in each borough; (iv) implementing teen dating violence education and school safety policies; and (v) improving the relationship between social welfare agencies and survivors of domestic violence.

The Committee on Sex and Law wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio urging the administration to focus on a number of key issues concerning gender-related law and policy including: 1) supporting the extension of accommodations for breastfeeding mothers to college and university students; 2) enhancing public education about a breastfeeding mother’s right to express milk in the workplace; 3) strengthening the City's commitment to teaching comprehensive, medically-accurate sexuality education in public schools; and 4) strengthening the City's commitment to punishing the perpetrators of human trafficking and providing supportive services to its victims.

Legal Services for Immigrants in Deportation Proceedings
The Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law provided testimony before the New York City Council in support of examining models that would provide legal services for immigrants in deportation hearings. As the testimony explained, the City Bar supports appointed counsel for any indigent noncitizen facing deportation, especially those jailed in detention during proceedings. New York State already provides lawyers to those at risk of losing children in civil proceedings and those detained pretrial in criminal proceedings, and deportation proceedings often put both loss of children and jail at risk. In addition, appointed counsel in immigration proceedings would likely reduce the costs of taxpayer-supported immigration detention; help the fair administration of justice in enormously backlogged immigration courts; and economically benefit society by reducing social costs such as foster care and increasing the economic contributions of those with a right to stay here.

Medical Marijuana
In a joint report, the Committees on Drugs & the Law and Health Law commented on Governor Cuomo's proposal to restart the Antonio G. Olivieri Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Program, which would allow New Yorkers who enroll as subjects in the Research Program to obtain medical marijuana. The report states that while this is a positive start, the narrow scope of the Research Program does not provide all qualified patients with access to a safe and reliable supply of medical marijuana, and that the Compassionate Care Act (CCA) should be enacted as a modern and effective means of providing qualified patients access to medical marijuana. The report notes that appropriately licensed and regulated registered organizations/
dispensaries in the community, as provided for by the CCA, are better suited for reaching the populations suffering from the serious conditions that may benefit from treatment with medical marijuana.

Construction Procurement Laws
In its report, 21st Century Construction, 20th Century Construction Law: An Update, the Committee on Construction Law continues to urge New York State to completely overhaul its statutory scheme for publicly and privately constructed and financed elements of the built environment across the State to match the needs of 21st Century construction projects. The goal of the proposed overhaul is for the State to provide all New York public owners with all procurement and delivery modes, as necessary and appropriate, to materially reduce costs, speed delivery and improve quality and safety. Specifically, the report makes the following recommendations: 1) expand the authorization of the design-build methodology to include its use for all types of structures, and additionally authorize the construction-management-at-risk methodology for all New York Public owners; 2) remove the regulatory chilling effect on the design-build methodology in current legislation and resolve regulatory inconsistencies; and 3) expand the New York City Educational Construction Fund model to all public school districts and for other building typologies such as public health care clinics and ambulatory care facilities to further leverage the benefits of private multi-use development projects when and where they occur.

Judiciary's 2014-2015 Budget Request
In its report on the 2014-2015 Judiciary Budget request, the Council on Judicial Administration strongly recommends that the Legislature adopt the Judiciary’s 2014-2015 Budget Request in its entirety. The report concludes that after sustaining a $170 million dollar budget cut in 2011, and zero growth budgets in 2012 and 2013, it is essential that the Legislature fund the Court’s modest 2.5% proposed increase in its 2014-2015 budget request. The report notes that budget setbacks over the last three years have had a devastating impact on the courts and the people they serve, including a loss of 1,900 positions. The proposed budget would maintain, restore and enhance essential court functions. The report also supports the proposal to add 20 additional Family Court judges, to be accomplished through a supplemental appropriation, to help relieve that Court’s burgeoning caseloads.

Confidential Personal Information
The Council on Judicial Administration submitted comments to the Office of Court Administration on the proposed rule aimed at preventing the unnecessary disclosure of confidential personal information in papers filed in civil matters. The comments strongly support the proposal, subject to a number of specific recommendations set forth in the comments, including changes to the definition of confidential personal information. The Council also urged OCA to take the measures necessary to ensure that any sealing of documents be no broader than necessary to protect the threatened interest.

Transparency in Government
A report was issued expressing support for A.2097-B/S.3046-B, which would allow public access to the proceedings and voting records of committee and session activities conducted by both houses of the State Legislature. This bill largely tracks rules reforms recommended by the Committee on State Affairs. The bill provides that: 1) all votes on legislation taken by legislators while in committee or in session be posted on the respective house’s website within 24 hours of the vote; 2) Senate and Assembly websites would post the bill number, date of the vote, summary of the legislation voted on, whether the vote occurred in committee or on the floor, and what each member’s vote was; and 3) all committee meetings and legislative sessions would be webcast through each house’s website.

Committee Involvement--It's Never too Late
Committees are how the City Bar’s work gets done. Working on a committee can give you great experience while opening up a number of leadership opportunities and career doors, some you may not even anticipate.

A full list of the City Bar committees along with a brief description of each and an application form can be found on the City Bar’s website. As a number of City Bar committees have more applicants than available slots, please consider applying to more than one committee.

Legislative Affairs
Have an interest in or questions about the City Bar’s legislative work? Send an email to, visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Updates include recent City Bar reports, news and upcoming programs in a particular practice area and are issued periodically to City Bar members.