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President's Message | February 2019 Newsletter

Who Is This Hurteau [her-toe] Guy?

          I was born and raised in North Bangor, New York a Town just outside the metropolis of Malone.  If you are really curious, look on a map tracing due north from Lake Placid for approximately fifty-four miles; seven miles south of the Quebec border.  The Town is in the foothills of the Adirondacks, looking out over the St. Lawrence Seaway Valley.  There are many more cows than people in North Bangor.

          I am the oldest of nine children, and we are all a year or less apart.  Ours was not the largest family in North Bangor (two of the Poirier families had twenty-one children), but likely the most traveled.  Because the “grandparents” who raised my mother (long story) lived in California, our family twice spent the entire summer traveling cross-country in an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon, with a pop-up trailer in tow.  We saw things that few in North Bangor ever saw, except on television (there was no movie theatre in North Bangor or Malone when I was growing up).

          My father was a math teacher at the public high school in Malone (Franklin Academy) and my mother was child care technician (she worked in a Hospital neonatology unit before marriage) who then stayed home after I was born to take care of the family.  No one in our family was a lawyer, but education was a priority.  And it amazed me, even at the time, but more so when I had my own children, that my parents were always there, encouraging us in all our various endeavors (and we had a lot of endeavors).  To my memory I announced at a young age, without any real reason, that I was going to be President, and I thought the way to do that was to become a lawyer.   

I was fortunate to be enough of an athlete to get some interest from several colleges, and selected Siena mainly because of the cross-country coach.  I was a Political Science/Pre-Law major, that truly enjoyed living on campus as a student/athlete (I especially liked the cafeteria where you could eat all of the unburnt food you wanted [my mother had a penchant for burning almost everything she cooked]).  I went straight from Siena to Albany Law School, because that is what nearly every Pre-Law major at Siena did, and why not.    

          I enjoyed every course I took in law school, so when looking for work after school, thought a clerkship made sense.  I wanted to be a litigator and hoped working in the court system might focus my interests.  But the best thing to happen in law school was, by far, meeting my wife Mary Alice Rinaldi.  We dated through law school, and married after I finished a two-year clerkship with Supreme Court Judge D. Bruce (Pete) Crew in Chemung County.  Following the clerkship, which was an incredible experience, I took a position with a litigation boutique in Dallas, Texas.  Mary matriculated to Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas to get her masters in tax law. 

          Dallas was a blast, but certainly not home.  So we both looked for positions in Upstate New York.  After interviewing with several firms, Nixon Peabody LLP seemed the best fit.  I started in the Rochester office, and moved to Albany when Mary took a position with Counsel’s Office at the New York State Department of Tax and Finance.

          Two wonderful children (Alicia Marie and Gabrielle Danae) and twenty-five years practicing commercial litigation in Albany later, I am finally becoming President! 

A life’s journey fulfilled.

What I Intend to Discuss in This Space.

          Membership and access to justice. 

          Membership, because ACBA is nothing without members. 

I want to talk about why lawyers chose to join ACBA.  I want to talk about what ACBA offers that is unique.  I want to explore how we encourage our peers and colleagues to join ACBA.  I want to discuss how we make ACBA a dynamic, diverse and welcoming family for all of the attorneys that live and work in Albany County.

Access to Justice, because justice does not happen without access.

I want to discuss who has access and how access impacts justice.  I want to explore this topic with attorneys in our community that deal with the issue on a daily basis.  I want to get their insights on the topic, and then discuss what that insight can mean for all attorneys, their practices and the larger community of consumers and providers in Albany County.  I want to encourage the membership of ACBA to join in that discussion.  I intend to not just identify the concerns, but to hopefully identify solutions from those of us that make up and regularly participate in the justice system. 

Both topics are relevant to me because of where I came from and have become over these many years.  To me, a membership organization is like a large family that is there for each other and encourages all of our endeavors.  A membership organization, at its best, provides a social outlet, a community of people that share common experiences, and gather to help each other to make our larger community a better place to work and live.  I see ACBA as an extension of what makes my own family special.  A place of understanding, familiarity, encouragement and hope.

 I am also concerned that few in my family truly have access to justice (beyond asking me or Mary questions at Thanksgiving).  Many normal hard working people simply cannot afford to pay for legal services.  And without lawyers to provide such people with guidance and counsel, I wonder what is to become of their faith and trust in a system that is so difficult to understand or participate in any meaningful way.  What are the alternatives, the paradigm shifts or productive ways that people can interact with the system of justice that we have in our country and county?  I have tried to do my part by participating in pro bono, but sometimes feel like it is a finger in a dyke during a hundred-year flood.  I will be asking what more we can all do as attorneys to, at minimum, discuss this issue.

So, I intend to challenge ACBA members to actively invite and encourage other attorneys to join this great membership organization.  I am likewise going to hopefully encourage discussion and challenge collective thought on access to justice in our community.

I look forward to an incredible year as your President. 

 

Daniel J. Hurteau, Esq.
ACBA President

 

 

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