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President's Message | May/June 2019 Newsletter

 

Want to Find a President Early in the Morning?

Try looking at the Crossings in Latham.

For most, this time of year is spring. For me, it is the end of the running season. And the event that marks the end of that season is the ACBA Run Against Domestic Violence (which was on May 2 this year).

For the last many years, I have used the ACBA Run as the transition to my exercise of choice; bike riding. And perhaps because running is not my favorite, I very much look forward to the ACBA Run (ironic).

This year was especially meaningful and memorable, because the Run was celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Twenty-five years that lawyers and friends in Albany County have raised money for programs that provide care and comfort in our community. Truly amazing.

You might have guessed this, but something like a Run does not happen without a lot of hard work. Many dedicated members of ACBA (and non-members) spend months preparing for and putting on the Run. Our co-chairs this year for the Committee, Dan Coffey and Elizabeth Grogan have been working on the Run for years. In fact, Dan Coffey has been on the Committee or its Chair for the entirety of the twenty-five years of the Run (he started working on the Run when a mere child). And Elizabeth Grogan has been a stalwart on the committee and as a co-chair the last several years. Indeed, the committee, which generally consists of up to ten other members, does a fantastic job every year of raising money for the Albany County Bar Association Foundation (a separate charitable [501 (c)(3)] organization that has its own Board and Officers).

Celebrating this event with so many people at the Crossing caused me to reflect on all the various activities that ACBA is involved in and the many Committees that do the heavy lifting.  Before becoming involved with the Board, I certainly did not fully appreciate all that ACBA does for and with its members to benefit both our community of lawyers and non-lawyers.

Pondering the above made me want to share with you some of the things that ACBA does year in and year out, without much fanfare. To that end, I have asked Marquita Rhodes, our Executive Director, to begin listing in the Newsletter the different Committees and Chairs of those Committees that ACBA supports. I also intend to discuss some of the Committees in the membership portion of this message in the coming months.

 

Let’s Talk About Membership

By my count, and I think I am forgetting some, ACBA has over twenty Committees. The Committees run the gamut and almost cover the alphabet, from A (Appellate Moot Argument Committee) to Y (Young Lawyers Committee). And all are chaired and populated by ACBA members that go above and beyond, getting that much more involved in our membership.

This month, I want to focus on two of the Committees, the Mock Trial and Newsletter Committees.

 

Mock Trial Committee

Every year, ACBA puts on a county wide Mock Trial Competition for local high schools. The schools sponsor teams (many times with local lawyers as coaches) and gather to compete for the right to represent Albany County in the regional competition, the winner going on to the state competition. The county wide competition takes place in the spring of each year, and is no easy task to coordinate and manage. There are literally hundreds of students, educators, judges and lawyers in Albany County that take part of this competition. But year after year, ACBA members devote an incredible amount of time and resources to this effort.

The Mock Trial Committee this year was made up of Ryan Manley and Kathryn Mabey. They did yeoman work on this program, that does not get the attention and credit it deserves. Marquita and Lindsay Panzica from the ACBA offices were also instrumental in pulling off this event. And the Committee relies on many Judges, lawyers and others in the community to volunteer their time and talent to this event.

This year, as happens every four years, ACBA was host to the regional competition, which quadruples the effort put in by the Committee, staff, Judges and everyone else that works so hard to make this program a success.

If you have never had the pleasure of participating in or watching the Mock Trial Competition, you are missing a remarkable demonstration of talent. The students are extremely well coached and do a great job of presenting the cases. The Judges not only make the difficult decision of choosing winners, but also provide invaluable feedback for the students. And the Committee and ACBA staff run this program with true panache.

 

Newsletter Committee

 

This Newsletter does not write itself. There is, in fact, a Newsletter Committee headed by John Harwick and more than ten members that make it all happen. In the last several years, the Newsletter Committee has been working hard to improve the presentation, content and advertising in the Newsletter.

The Newsletter was, for many years, a money losing venture for ACBA. Under John Harwick’s leadership, that has changed and the Newsletter is now budget neutral, with hopes that it can generate a bit more than it costs to print and ship this year. The key is advertising, and that involves running down leads and making the ask. In fact, the Committee is always looking for leads and would very much appreciate it if members reading this message can share leads you might have for advertising (feel free to send to me at dhurteau@nixonpeabody.com).

It is also important that the Newsletter provide interesting and useful content for all members. To that end, the Committee is trying to add new columns, including a column on civil practice in New York. The Committee is also adding some new columnist to give others a voice and an opportunity to provide substantive content. This is an ever evolving process, and I know that the Committee is interested in your feedback.

The Newsletter Committee is also working with the printer to add more color pages and to include as many pictures of members attending events as can squeeze into the Newsletter. The look and presentation in the Newsletter is very important, as many types of media vie for our attention.

And the hard work does pay off. I often get comments from members of other bars around the State that are impressed with the substance and professionalism of the ACBA Newsletter. Our Newsletter is something to be proud of and I commend the Committee for all of its hard work.

I am writing about these committees to let members know what they do, but also to entice members to be curious and get involved. Every committee could use more members, and all are welcome. So, as I write about the committees, please feel free to sign up for one or more that interest you.

 

Let’s Talk About Access to Justice.

 

I teased the Clean Slate program in the last Newsletter. ACBA is teaming up with the Albany County District Attorney’s office to assist people pro bono who qualify to have their criminal records sealed. In an article that is included in this Newsletter, Vincent Stark, provides the details of the Clean Slate program and how members of ACBA can get involved. In fact, Vincent has been putting on presentations around the County on the program and the efforts by the District Attorney’s office to inform members of the program and enlist our support.

This is a pro bono program that requires very little effort by members, but can be extremely meaningful and life changing for those that qualify. The District Attorney’s office has put together forms that can be filled out and instructions on how to assist people that qualify. In many instances, there will never be a Court hearing and all flavors of attorneys (litigators, transactional, real estate) can get involved.

So please read the article by Vincent, and stay tuned as this program is rolled out and ACBA looks for its members to get involved. 


Daniel J. Hurteau, Esq.
ACBA President

 

 

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