Letter From the President Of The Association Of The Bar Of The City Of New York

2006-06-01 01:00

To the Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel :

As I end my term as president, there is much upon which I could reflect. However, I will refrain from a detailed summary of our activities and instead share my thoughts on a few aspects of what to me is the best of the spirit of this great Association.Founded more than 130 years ago to advance integrity in government and improve our judiciary, we can be proud that not only have we stayed true to our guiding principles, but that we have expanded, diversified and adapted those goals to the complexities of the modern era. Although the two hundred founding members of this Association were not a diverse group, we can look back with pride on their vision and courage, and most importantly their willingness to devote considerable time and energy to improving government and society, not for profit but for the public good.

Today we are an organization of 23,000 lawyers and more than 1,000 law students. We come from varied backgrounds and circumstances, and we are much more diverse than our founding members and work in many different practice settings. Every day our diverse members are working together in remarkable cooperation and with a shared sense of purpose that within the Association it is the work we do for the public good, not for profit, that matters. Some of you are devoting many hours to improving the laws that govern our society, to make them clearer and more consistent with their stated purpose. Others of you work to change the law to achieve fairness and justice in our society.Still others look beyond our borders to advance the rule of law globally. This work is most effectively accomplished through the dedicated members of our approximately 160 committees who work diligently and often passionately to improve the law and impact public policy. As a consequence, we are not only well-known for our fine work but we also have a significant impact.

Also, I take enormous pride in those of you who find time to help those in need in our city who lack the resources to hire an attorney and thus are denied true access to justice. This year we launched a new initiative to encourage more lawyers to do pro bono legal work by adopting the Statement of Pro Bono Principles.We already have 31 law firms who are signatories to that pledge and we will work to increase that number in the coming year. But it is not just the large law firms who are committed to give of themselves. Many of our individual members who work for government, non-profit organizations or corporations, or who are solo practitioners or practicing in small or medium-sized firms, have devoted hundreds of hours of their time providing pro bono legal services. We owe all of them a tremendous debt of gratitude. And more of us should join their ranks. We should also help more financially by contributing even more to legal services organizations and continue to advocate for increased funding of legal services organizations at the state and federal levels. I am especially grateful to those who helped to make our inaugural City Bar Justice Center Gala such a huge success. I can now report that we netted over $500,000. These funds will be of enormous importance in supporting the activities of the City Bar Justice Center in the coming year and hopefully will enable us to enhance one of our most important projects, the Legal Hotline.

I particularly urge those of you who are at a stage of your career when you can devote more time to public service work to lead by example and consider that taking on a pro bono matter where you are actually engaged yourself will set a terrific example for the junior lawyers in your organization. You will also find it tremendously rewarding.

Conclusion

It is now time for me to say goodbye and to thank you for entrusting me with the leadership of our Association and Justice Center. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime. The greatest gift has been the opportunity to meet so many of our members and to be able to take pride in their accomplishments, the result of their selfless dedication to the public good. None of this would be possible without the support of our outstanding staff to whom I am also deeply indebted and the wonderful work of our Committee Chairs.

Sincerely,

Bettina Plevan