Total Number of Members: 75,000
Out of State Members: 18,000
Membership is: Voluntary
Membership in Other Bar Associations: American Bar Association, National Conference of Bar Presidents, Mid-Atlantic Bar Conference, National Association of Bar Executives, National Conference of Bar Foundations
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation with more than 75,000 members. Members include private practitioners in small and large firms, government and public service attorneys, legal educators, judges and law students.
The Association was established in 1876 to promote reform in the law, cultivate the science of jurisprudence, facilitate the administration of justice, and elevate the standards of integrity, honor, professional skill and courtesy in the legal profession. These purposes are addressed today through the presentation of numerous educational programs, publications and other services to enhance professional development; analyses of pending legislation, development of proposed legislation, and issuance of other reports and recommendations to improve the law and functioning of the justice system; public service initiatives, including resources to promote training and opportunities for pro bono service, and a law-related education program conducted in cooperation with the State Education Department.
The Association's governing bodies are the 282-member House of Delegates and the 26-member Executive Committee.
The Association is committed to active participation in the legislative process. Through the Department of Governmental Relations, affirmative legislative proposals are prepared and promoted in conjunction with Sections and Committees, and the latter groups also comment on pending legislation affecting their respective fields of interest. The Association's legislative priorities includes the following:
- Judicial salary reform;
- Access to the justice system for impoverished persons;
- Court reform relating to the structure of the court system and to judicial selection;
- Equal legal rights for same-sex couples;
- The Compact for long-term care to provide fair and equitable ways to finance long-term care for elderly and disabled persons; and
- Support for proposals that promote and benefit the legal profession.
The innovative Law, Youth and Citizenship Program enables hundreds of attorneys and judges to work in partnership with schools and teachers throughout New York to bring law-related and civic education to the classrooms of the state. The LYC Program, funded by NYSBA, The New York State Bar Foundation and grants from the Center for Civic Education, offers programs for elementary, middle and high school students and professional development for their teachers. LYC hosts the statewide Mock Trial Program, We the People, Project Citizen, summer institutes, teacher workshops, education conferences and a statewide essay contest. Each year, a New York educator and attorney are recognized for contributing to the civic and law-related education efforts in New York. The program's website, http://www.lycny.org/, is a valuable resource for New York teachers.
Each year, more than 200 courses are conducted at sites across the state through the Continuing Legal Education Program in conjunction with relevant Sections and Committees. Programs range from practical skills, to the latest changes in the law, to advanced level presentations. The CLE Program also produces numerous coursebooks, in-depth texts, reference books, CDs, DVDs, audio and videocassettes and disks, as well as on-line programs.
Members have the opportunity for active involvement through 23 Sections, more than 60 Committees and Task Forces concentrating on particular fields of law and practice. Programs, publications and reports are produced through Sections and Committees to address issues in these areas of concern. In addition, NYSBA's substantive sections are successfully implementing Ambassador Programs. Volunteer "Ambassadors" serve newly admitted attorneys by welcoming them into the section, encouraging their participation, creating networking and personal growth opportunities, extending personal invitations to section activities and events, and helping them understand the Association's importance, structure and various leadership opportunities.
Most Sections of the Association conduct educational programs and business meetings in conjunction with the Annual Meeting in January. The Association's 2008 Annual Meeting was held in New York City from January 28-February 2 at the New York Marriott Marquis.
Through committees such as the Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section, the Association provides assistance and examples of how to start-up and market a law practice effectively, ethically and profitably. The Association continues to upgrade and update its Web site to assist members in maximizing electronic resources in their work and is continually looking to enrich the website for the benefit of members.
The Young Lawyers Section mentoring program is a service designed to allow section members an opportunity to consult with seasoned lawyers about specific legal or law office management questions. The Young Lawyers Section also looks to other opportunities for mentoring programs and professional development within the Section, the Association, and the profession.
Attorneys, judges or law students needing assistance with stress, alcoholism, substance abuse, depression or other mental health issues can obtain help through the Lawyer Assistance Programâ??s helpline. The program offers personal attention through confidential assistance, intervention and education, in conjunction with the Lawyer Assistance Committee.
Through the Lawyer Referral and Information Service, callers are directed to attorneys in their geographic area who have indicated they maintain the ongoing professional expertise to handle matters in the caller's particular area of need. The program covers 41 counties, where county or local bar associations do not maintain a referral service. Last year, more than 40,000 callers were assisted. Members of the public are also directed toward other agencies for assistance. Experienced panels are available to handle more complicated cases in the areas of custody, criminal law, elder law, estate law, farm/agricultural matters, medical malpractice and personal injury.
The Association promotes the delivery of civil legal services to the indigent through advocacy for greater funding for staffed programs and greater pro bono participation by lawyers. The new Empire State Counsel program honors every member who certifies that he or she has rendered 50 hours of free legal services to the poor in a calendar year. In recognition of such services where they are most urgently needed, these attorneys will receive the honorific title "Empire State Counsel", which they can use on promotional material, and will also receive special recognition and publicity. Several committees -- including the President's Committee on Funding for Civil Legal Services - and the Department of Pro Bono Affairs advance the Association's access to justice mission.
The New York Bar Foundation is dedicated to aiding charitable and educational projects to meet the law-related needs of the public and the legal profession. The charitable and philanthropic arm of the Association, The Foundation provides grant awards to programs throughout the State of New York that facilitate the delivery of legal services, improve the justice system and the law, enhance professional competence and ethics, and increase public understanding of the law.
The New York State Conference of Bar Leaders, a NYSBA-affiliated organization, operating through the Association, serves as a forum to exchange information and perspectives among leaders of more that 150 local, ethnic, minority, specialty and women's bar associations. The Association also is represented in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and participates in the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the Mid-Atlantic Bar Conference, the National Association of Bar Executives and other forums.
These are some significant milestones in NYSBA history:
1877 - Legislation signed into law by Governor and NYSBA President David B. Hill removes the restrictions on the admission of women to the practice of law.
1890 - NYSBA sponsors a centennial celebration of the organization of the judicial department of the federal government and the first meeting of the U.S. Supreme Court.
1896 - A NYSBA proposal becomes what is now the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the first global means for settling disputes among nations.
1920 - NYSBA adopts the Canons of Ethics (today known as the Code of Professional Responsibility), and recommends that the Court of Appeals require applicants to sign an affidavit that they have read the rules, that the Board of Law Examiners test applicants concerning the Canons, and that law school faculty teach professional ethics - - all measures in place today.
1941 - Based on NYSBA's recommendations, the governor signs into law The Motor Vehicle Safety-Responsibility Act and other vehicle provisions pertaining to public safety, record-keeping, and financial responsibility for accidents.
1945 - NYSBA responds to legal needs in time of war, and recommends lawyers to serve as Government Appeal Agents for Selective Service boards. NYSBA also organizes a corps of lawyers throughout the state to provide legal assistance to members of the military.
1957 - NYSBA produces Standards of Practices for Doctors and Lawyers in cooperation with the State Medical Society. The project is part of an effort to provide guidance, and enhance procedures in litigation and related matters.
1969 - NYSBA is a leader in the establishment of the New York Fair Trial Free Press Conference, bringing together lawyers, judges, journalists and law enforcement authorities to work to balance First and Sixth Amendment rights, discuss issues and foster better understanding of each other's roles and relationships.
1989 - NYSBA commissions a landmark study of the legal needs of the indigent in New York State and presents a plan to increase pro bono representation by lawyers.
1997 - For the first time in its history, the Association files a lawsuit against the federal government and prevails in court, opposing a law, commonly called, "Granny's Advisor Goes to Jail," which criminalizes advising the elderly about lawful transfers of assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.
2001 - Based upon NYSBA's extensive study and recommendations, New York becomes the first state to adopt changes in the Code of Professional Responsibility to address issues of multidisciplinary practice, where members of more than one profession are grouped in a single organization to provide professional services to clients.
2003 - NYSBA attains its #1 legislative priority, enactment of increases in assigned counsel fees, which is the first increase since 1986. The rates were increased for in-court work from $40 per hour to $75 per hour for felony/Family Court work and $60 per hour for misdemeanors. Under the new formula, no distinction is made between in and out-of court work. The law also creates a $64 million Indigent Legal Services Fund to help local governments offset the cost of the pay hike for assigned counsel.
2004 - As a result of a lawsuit filed by the Association, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the privacy provisions of Title V of the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act ("GLBA") do not apply to lawyers. The ruling was subsequently upheld on appeal.
2005 - The Association, in partnership with 17 minority bar associations from around New York State and nationally, hosted a roundtable event marking the 51st anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, one of the most significant decisions ever handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. This history-making event featured New York lawyers and other civil rights leaders who played a role in the monumental case and gave first-hand accounts of their experiences.
January 28-February 2, 2008
New York Marriott Marquis, New York, NY
The Association maintains the following Sections. Chairs are listed below each Section.
Chair: Stacey Anne Mahoney
Chair: James W. Orband
COMMERCIAL AND FEDERAL LITIGATION
Chair: Carrie H. Cohen
CORPORATE COUNSEL (FOR INSIDE COUNSEL)
Chair: Gary F. Roth
Chair: Jean T. Walsh
Chair: Ami S. Longstreet
ENTERTAINMENT, ARTS & SPORTS LAW
Chair: Kenneth N. Swezey
Chair: Louis E. Alexander
Chair: Patrick C. O'Reilly
FOOD, DRUG AND COSMETIC LAW
Chair: David S. Weinstock
GENERAL PRACTICE, SOLO AND SMALL FIRM
Chair: Harriette M. Steinberg
Chair: Peter J. Millock
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW
Chair: Debra Ivy Resnick
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND PRACTICE
Chair: Marco A. Blanco
Chair: Hon. Leonard B. Austin
LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW
Chair: Robert Kingsley Hull
Chair: Robert B. Koegel
REAL PROPERTY LAW
Chair: Karl B. Holtzschue
Chair: David S. Miller
TORTS, INSURANCE AND COMPENSATION LAW
Chair: Daniel W. Gerber
Chair: Evan M. Goldberg
TRUSTS AND ESTATES
Chair: Wallace Leinheardt
Chair: Valerie M. Cartright