Education Is Focus of Bar Association's 2014 Meeting

, New York Law Journal

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New York Hilton Midtown, where the New York State Bar Association's annual meeting will be held Jan. 27-31.
New York Hilton Midtown, where the New York State Bar Association's annual meeting will be held Jan. 27-31.

How to nurture better educated lawyers able to cope with the rapid-fire changes in their profession is among the emphases of the New York State Bar Association annual meeting in Manhattan.

See the NYSBA Annual Meeting Special Report.

About 4,000 attorneys are expected to participate in the six-day event at the New York Hilton Midtown beginning Monday.

Among those scheduled to speak at the various luncheons, receptions, continuing legal education sessions and other presentations are American Bar Association President James Silkenat, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Court of Appeals Judge Jenny Rivera, Deputy Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Michael Danilack, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole and Assembly Chief Counsel James Yates.

Recipients of awards include Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Supreme Court Justice Barry Kamins, director of policy and planning for the Unified Court System.

See the convention's brochure.

The Gold Medal, the association's highest award, will be presented on Saturday to Louis Craco of Craco & Ellsworth in Huntington, who will be honored for his long-time service as chairman of the New York State Judicial Institute on Professionalism in the Law and the Court of Appeals' Committee on the Profession in the Courts.

State Bar President David Schraver of Nixon Peabody in Rochester said his President's Summit from 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday will focus on improving legal education and on ways lawyers already in the profession can adapt to challenges posed by globalization, competition from non-lawyers for professional services, new technology and new demands from clients.

William Sullivan, the founding director of Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, will be the keynote speaker at the 2 p.m. session on improving legal education. Panelists will be Phoebe Haddon, dean of the University of Maryland's School of Law; Rivera; and Kent Syverud, former dean of the Washington University School of Law and new chancellor of Syracuse University. (See also from the State Bar News: "Legal Education and the Future of the Profession" and "The Cost of a Legal Education Today Eye-Opening to NYSBA Leaders.")

Bruce MacEwen, author of "Growth is Dead: Now What? Law Firms on the Brink" will speak about supporting today's lawyers at 3:30 p.m. He will be followed by a discussion with panelists Frank Jimenez, general counsel of Bunge Limited; Anne Reynolds Copps of Copps DiPaola in Albany, and Benjamin Wilson of Beveridge & Diamond.

Schraver said the current state of legal education and the future of the legal profession are "complicated."

"I think both parts are related. You can't talk about one without talking about the other," he said.

Silkenat, of Sullivan & Worcester in Manhattan, will moderate the discussion on legal education, which has been a special interest of his as ABA president.

Schraver said he and Silkenat have worked closely on common issues such as improving law schools, reducing gun violence and meeting unmet legal needs of the poor since both became presidents-elect of their respective organizations.

On Friday, the state bar's House of Delegates will be presented with the unusual situation of having a choice when it votes on its president-elect who will be in line to become president of the 77,000-member organization on June 1, 2014.

Association secretary David Miranda, an attorney with Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti in Albany, is the choice of the association's nominating committee.

However, attorney Thomas Liotti of Garden City has collected petitions with the signatures of more than 50 state bar members to have his name put before the delegates.

See the candidates' statements to members.

Schraver, Liotti and others said it will be the first time a member has contested the election for one of the top positions.

Liotti is a one-time member of the House of Delegates who is past president of the state Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has also been a justice in Westbury Village Court for more than 20 years.

Glenn Lau-Kee of Kee & Lau-Kee in Manhattan will be unopposed for election as the group's next president.

Schraver said the House of Delegates will also be asked to adopt one or more resolutions, depending on actions beforehand by the executive committee, on the Unified Court System's insistence on the mandatory disclosure of the time and money lawyers contribute to pro bono.

The court system has started collecting information on attorney registrants pro bono activities but has agreed to delay providing public access to information (NYLJ, Sept. 13, 2013), but Schraver said that is still contrary to the long-standing position of the state bar against both mandatory pro bono and required disclosure.

Also on Friday, the House of Delegates will be asked to approve a resolution endorsing the results of a report prepared by the Law, Youth and Citizenship Committee, which argues that the time spent on civics education in New York schools has "dramatically declined" and must be increased (See also a letter to the governor on civics education).

The resolution also calls upon lawyers to become leaders in their communities to encourage civics education.

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