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President's Message | March 2019 Newsletter


Want to Speak to a President?

I want to hear from all members (and non-members if you are reading this message). So I am inviting everyone to email me at, call me at 518 427-2652 or even find a date to get together in person.

Another option is to join me on LinkedIn. I have accounts on other social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter), but do not really go on them or use them for any real purpose (other than sending my wife stuff for her games on Facebook and keeping track of my children and their friends on Instagram). But if these other outlets will make it easier for people to connect with me or ACBA in general, I am happy to become a more competent and regular user of those services.

I want this year to be interactive and collaborative. I intend to provide comment, ask questions, and probe issues (even some that might be controversial) important to the local and even broader legal community. And, in turn, I want to hear your responses and venture on an exploration with you of the issues that are important to you and this organization. I will be writing monthly in this space and sending out a by-weekly emails entitled “President’s Blast” (to start April Fool’s Day – so beware). In fact, I am currently in training (trying to cut back on the Cider Belly doughnuts) to take on the onslaught of gatherings with you all, where we break bread and talk about whatever might be on your minds about ACBA (or anything else you might want to discuss).

No one in ACBA has a monopoly on good ideas, especially not your current President. So I want to hear all ideas, in order to make ACBA the best membership organization it can be. To me, that means making ACBA relevant, responsive and welcoming to all members.

One confession, I am terrible with names. I would forget my own if not for the name tags I wear at events. Do me the favor, even if you are my relative, of coming right up to me and saying your name. That will be even more important this year, as I am certain to be meeting all kinds of new people. It will also prevent that embarrassing pause where I try to remember your name and whether to risk introducing you to anyone standing near me. I have introduced one too many Johns or Jills, who are actually Jims or Janes, to one too many people over the years.


Let’s Talk About Membership.

ACBA is not a clique for a subset of attorneys in Albany County. It needs to be home for all attorneys in Albany County. So how do we do that? And, how do we encourage everyone to be a member?

Professional membership organizations throughout the country are struggling to add and keep members. ACBA is no exception.

Is it demographics? Are Millennials not joiners? Are Baby Boomers retiring and leaving the practice at such large numbers that it is impacting memberships? Or are GenXers just too busy with life?

How do we as an organization change the trend? How do we get more people to want to join and stay with ACBA as members? What is the pitch that works with such a diverse group of professionals? Why join ACBA, when there are so many other fantastic organizations that we all can and do give our money and time?

I am asking you all to help me formulate the case for ACBA membership. Tell me why you joined. Tell me how we get others to join. Tell me what I or our Board can do to make ACBA the place to be.

And I will be asking each member to become part of the solution. There is no reason why ACBA should not have at least half of the attorney population in Albany County as members. Indeed, if every current member got one friend or colleague to join, ACBA would instantly double in size and represent almost half the attorneys in the County. That can happen. And I intend, with your help, to be making that case each month in this space for that to happen.

If you get someone to join, and want to share with me how you did it, what was persuasive, how you closed the deal, please do so (see above ways to connect with me). I can then use your success to encourage others do the same.


Let’s Talk About Access to Justice

As mentioned last month, I am asking people on the front line of access to justice issues to write articles for this newsletter. This month, I asked the Executive Director of Mediation Matters, Sarah Rudgers-Tysz, to write an article about mediation and its role in access to justice.

Full disclosure, I am a Board member for Mediation Matters. I became a Board member because I saw in my own practice the power and import of giving parties the opportunity to find a solution. There are certainly times when the traditional processes of resolving disputes make matters worse, not better. And typically the sooner parties have an opportunity to explore resolution with a skilled mediator the better the resolution.

My view was that what I was seeing as an effective way to manage disputes in my practice would work equally in situations where litigants might not have the resources to hire counsel. I joined the Board of Mediation Matters to work with that excellent organization to make sure mediation was a resource available to as many people as possible in our courts and communities.

In her article, Sarah makes the case for mediation as a tool to provide access to justice. She explains the support for mediation by our courts, and explores how mediation provides an opportunity to effectively resolve disputes. She explains how mediation can give someone control over the outcome of a dispute. But mediation as a solution to access to justice is not without its detractors. Some think mediation only magnifies the inequities of the parties. This theory suggests that if a person with counsel mediates against someone without, the inequity cannot be mitigated by the mediator, not even a really good mediator. Also, that mediation does not really provide a zealous advocate, a role that the mediator cannot and must not take on.

Daniel J. Hurteau, Esq.
ACBA President



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