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President's Message |  January 2018 Newsletter


This is my last President’s Column.

On January 18, 2018 Supreme Court Judge Christina Ryba will be sworn in at the Albany Courthouse
as the next President of the Albany County Bar Association. The ceremony will be at 5:30 PM. Please attend.
Everyone is invited. The speeches will be brief.

A year ago when I assumed the Presidency of the Association, the Board had just made the difficult decision
to restructure its pro bono department by discontinuing direct legal services. A financial analysis revealed
the grants used to fund these services were not covering actual cost.

One of the immediate casualties was a precipitous decline in the ACBA’s participation at the Albany County
Family Court’s Help Center. While the Association reorganized its efforts, the Help Center was staffed
primarily by one individual. This individual was retired Supreme Court Judge Joseph C. Teresi who I would
like to publicly recognize and thank for his efforts.

Together with balancing the budget of the ACBA, the reopening of the Help Center was identified as a
priority issue. We hired a new Pro Bono Coordinator, Kristen Petrella and appointed as Chair of the Pro Bono
Committee, Lorraine R. Silverman. The work and the progress that has been made is remarkable.Together with
their team and Judge Walsh’s law clerk Marne Onderdonk, new training materials were developed and new
volunteers recruited. A number of “Anchor Firms” were solicited for help. The Help
Center is now staffed 3 to 4
days a week and the ACBA and its volunteers are working closely with our
community partners which include
The Legal Project, Legal Aid and Albany Law School. Their efforts are
continuing and new volunteers are needed
and welcomed. I would like to acknowledge and thank Kristen
Petrella and Lorraine Silverman and their team
for doing such a wonderful job on such a worthwhile project.

Another worthwhile effort that bears mentioning is the ACBA’s Diversity Internship program which
and coordinates internships of diverse Albany Law School students with area law firms. This year
we have expanded the number of law firms to 16 who participated in the program during the 2017 – 2018
academic year. This program was originally started at the suggestion of former Court of Appeals Chief Justice
Judith Kaye and has been chaired by former Albany County Bar President Jim Kelly. The expansion of this
program is largely due to the hard work of Jim and especially his new co-chair Mishka Woodley. Thank you
Jim and Mishka for your hard work.

I am also extremely pleased to state that the ACBA’s budget is balanced and the Association is financially
sound. This is the result of the fiscal discipline instituted by our Executive Director Marquita Rhodes and
current Treasurer Mike McDermott. This achievement cannot be understated.

I would like to recognize and thank the Board for their support during this year of reorganization. The Board
puts in many hours and its members and the committee members are responsible for whatever progress we
have achieved during the past year.


Finally, I want to thank Marquita Rhodes and the ACBA staff Molly Myers, Kristen Petrella and Molly Farrell
for their dedication and commitment to the organization. Together they have made the job of President a
pleasure as well as an honor.

The Albany Bar Association will be in good hands under the leadership of Christina Ryba and President Elect
Dan Hurteau.

Thank you members of the ACBA for allowing me the opportunity to serve as President of our fine organization.


James E. Hacker, Esq.

ACBA President

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