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President's Message | November 2018 Newsletter

This month we welcome the fall foliage and prepare for all that the season has to offer including Thanksgiving. My favorite part about Thanksgiving is when my family comes together for a meal and we go around the table to say what we are each thankful for. This year I am thankful for the usual things such as my health, family and being blessed with the opportunity to serve the public as a Supreme Court Justice. “However, I am also thankful for the opportunity to serve as your president of the Albany County Bar. As my time in this role winds down, I reflect on all the wonderful opportunities this position has offered. Most recently, I was invited to participate in a Statewide Stakeholders Meeting convened by the New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice (“Permanent Com-mission”). 

As background, the Permanent Commission was developed in 2017 to “provide effective assistance for one-hundred-percent of low-income New Yorkers confronting civil legal mat-ters affecting the essentials of life.”* To achieve the goal, six guiding principles have been set forth as follows:


1.      Establish Effective Leadership;

2.      Develop Strong Relationships with Diverse Stakeholders and Form Local Collaborations;

3.      Create and Sustain Pervasive Awareness in the Community of the Availability of Effective    Assistance;

4.      Consider “Effective Assistance” as a Spectrum of Resources and Services;

5.      Implement Ongoing Evaluation Processes and Efforts to Ensure Sustainability; and

6.      Consider the Impact of Optimism and Enthusiasm on Planning

The stakeholder meeting began with an introduction by the Honorable Jan-et DiFiore, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Next there was a discussion of the local efforts in Suffolk and Mon-roe counties. A working lunch followed and then there was a breakout session entitled “Launching a Local Plan.” This segment was broken up into four categories: 1) rural counties, 2) counties with larger populations, 3) Albany Coun-ty and 4) New York City. Lillian Moy was the facilitator for the Albany County ses-sion and, with tons of energy, she led an interactive and productive session. In the end, all the stakeholders could vote on which initiatives we found to be priorities; by voting with stickers. While the official tally and summary of the event has not yet been released, it was my understanding that the top two vote getters among the Albany County group were mental hygiene justice services and legal services for those with modest means. All in all, being part of the meeting was an honor and I know that ACBA  will work with our community partners to ensure that everyone, regardless of in-come, has access to justice. This month I had the privilege of interviewing Alina Buccella for the public service spotlight:


1)  Please summarize your job at the Court of Appeals?

I am currently in my second year of a two-year pool clerkship at the Court. I am part of a department of attorneys that assists the Judges of the Court in determining civil motions for leave to appeal, among other things. Motions for leave are randomly assigned to each of the Judges and conferenced and voted on by all the Judges of the Court. When reviewing a party's motion, we first assess whether any jurisdictional impediment exists that might prevent the Court from granting leave. If the Court has jurisdiction, the question becomes whether the movant has presented a leaveworthy issue.


2)  State your reasons for selecting a career in public service instead of private practice?

Starting in college, I gained an interest in public service work by volunteering in the local middle schools and working with an organization studying poverty in southern Ohio. After graduating, I first joined Teach for America to teach middle school in New York City, and then I worked at a nonprofit that studied trends in global philanthropy. Upon settling on a career in law, continuing public interest work felt natural. That is not to say that I never tried anything else. I interned at HSBC in college and my first summer positions in law school were with private firms. I really enjoyed both experiences. I also enjoy feeling like my work is a part of something bigger than myself. Right now, for me that means contributing to the Court of Appeal's jurisprudence, and I am grateful to serve the citizens of the state in that capacity.


3)  What are some of the biggest challenges of your role at the Court of Appeals?

One of the biggest challenges of my job is also one of the reasons I sought it out--the exposure to a wide variety of legal issues. It is a challenge to have to unpack unfamiliar legal issues in a complex case, but it makes finding the solution that much more gratifying.


4)  In what way can seasoned ACBA members contribute to the development of the next generation of practitioners?

I will echo Justice McCarthy's response to this question in last month's newsletter. I think that taking on a mentorship role with a new attorney is one of the most generous contributions an experienced attorney can make. Whether that means offering to give an associate's brief a preliminary read through or taking an interest in his or her career development, every little bit helps. Our committee, the Attorneys in Public Service Committee, is working on developing a mentorship program, so opportunities to take on such a role in a more formal capacity might be coming soon for ACBA members.


5)  What is the most valuable ACBA membership benefit for you?

 Through my involvement with the APS committee, first as a member and now as a co- chair, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the committee members well. I think that getting involved in committee work is a great way to take advantage of an ACBA membership, and the wide variety of committees that ACBA offers makes it easy to find a group of people who share your interests. Getting to help lead the committee has also been a great opportunity for me, personally. I have been clerking for three years, and my work can be very independent. The committee work is anything but, and I enjoy collaborating with our group.

Hon. Christina L. Ryba
ACBA President



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