The New York City Bar Association urges the Legislature to accept the Judiciary’s 2015-2016 Budget Request in its entirety.

The Budget Request seeks a 2.5% increase, amounting to $51.3 million dollars, in the “All Funds Budget.” Funds would be used to increase the number of courts that can remain open to the public until 5 p.m., allow courts to maintain current staffing levels, and fill a limited number of critical positions. Increased funds are also requested for legal services to ensure that the most vulnerable New Yorkers are not without counsel in cases involving the essentials of life.

A report, prepared by the Association’s Council on Judicial Administration, outlines that since 2009, the Judiciary has absorbed nearly $400 million in increased costs while its budget has increased only $27.5 million, or 1.5%. As a result of cutbacks of $170 million in the 2011 Judiciary Budget, the Judiciary was forced to close the Civil Court buildings and courtrooms early, lay off staff, and cease hiring to replace employees lost through attrition. During this period, the New York State Unified Court System lost 2000 employees. Staff shortages caused delays in processing court documents and imposed hardship on litigants throughout the court system.

The City Bar gives numerous examples of the difficulties caused by what it calls the “starvation diet” given to our court system, including sex offense victims forced to go through repeated emotional distress as their cases are postponed multiple times; a robbery case postponed six times, after which the victim refused to appear again; debtors in Civil Court forced to wait months because their files can’t be found; and shortages of clerks and interpreters causing backups of weeks and months in Housing Court. In State Supreme Court, an attorney recently had to wait six months for a one sentence written decision confirming an arbitration award on default.

The 2015-2016 Judiciary Budget Request includes the costs of five Family Court judgeships created effective January 1, 2016; 20 Family Court judgeships created effective January 1, 2015, and the City Court judgeships established pursuant to Chapter 548 of the Laws of 2013. Additionally, it includes an increase of $15 million in funding for civil legal services to address the needs of unrepresented litigants. As detailed in the Budget Request, it is estimated that for each dollar invested in civil legal services, New York State receives more than six dollars in economic benefits resulting from reduced social services and other public expenses as well as an increase in federal benefits.

While the previous year’s “Road to Recovery” Judiciary Budget improved somewhat the harsh impact of the budgetary shortfalls implemented in 2011, the Judiciary still has “a long way to go before it recovers from those cutbacks,” notes the report. “The Legislature should appropriate sufficient funds to ensure that the Judiciary Budget continues on its road to recovery and is able to satisfy the Judiciary’s important responsibilities to the people of the State of New York.”

The report may be read here: http://bit.ly/1ALgVs3

 

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On January 28th, the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Drugs and the Law and New York City Affairs Committee convened an expert panel for a discussion of the past, present and possible futures of marijuana law in New York City.

The panel was moderated by Touro Law Center Dean and Professor of Law Patricia Salkin, a land use expert, and featured Stephen Levin and Jumaane Williams, both City Council Members from Brooklyn, and Nitin Savur, Deputy Chief of the Trial Division of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

From left: Noah Potter, Drugs and the Law Committee; Matthew S. Schweber, New York City Affairs Committee; Patricia Salkin, Dean and Professor of Law, Touro Law Center; Nitin Savur, Deputy Chief of Trial Division in Charge of Criminal Courts, Office of the New York County District Attorney; Stephen Levin, New York City Council Member, District 33; and Jumaane D. Williams, New York City Council Member, District 45.

Savur, who oversees criminal court for District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., described his office’s interest in reducing the number of marijuana misdemeanor cases clogging the courts. Between 2009-2014, there were over 49,000 misdemeanor marijuana cases. After attempting in 2012 to convince the State legislature to expand the scope of New York’s cannabis decriminalization statute, DA Vance recently endorsed the de Blasio administration’s announcement that the New York City Police Department will issue summonses for possession of personal-use amounts of cannabis instead of making arrests. Earlier, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced that his office would not prosecute first-time offenders for possession of personal-use amounts.

The panelists all agreed that the profusion of marijuana arrests has been problematic. While marijuana was separated from other controlled substances under state law in the 1970s, a persistent problem has remained: while simple possession is a violation rather than a criminal offense, possessing marijuana in “public view” remains a B misdemeanor. The practice of police officers asking people to empty their pockets and then charging the misdemeanor offense has been exposed and criticized in the discourse around stop-and-frisk in New York.

Council Member Williams is as concerned with who is getting arrested as much as the volume of arrests. He raised the issues of unequal enforcement, even from neighborhood to neighborhood. While Williams favors complete legalization, he hopes there are ways in the meantime for the city to take leadership to address the inequities, and he advocates automatic expungement of criminal records.

Council Member Levin also hopes that Albany will step up with leadership in the future, and will continue to look for ways to advance policy at the local level and put pressure on the state legislature.

Professor Salkin pointed out that local law is “ground zero” for discussion of legal cannabis. If state law changes, the next question is what localities can do to either opt out or influence implementation options. Issues about local control have cropped up in the medical marijuana arena, as they have with fracking, adult entertainment and numerous other issues. Professor Salkin suggested that New York City commission a “health impact assessment” of changes to marijuana policy, which would look at health impacts, mental health and social justice indicators.

The panel discussed other changes in New York State law during 2014, including the Compassionate Care Act, which legalized limited uses of cannabis for medical purposes.  The Department of Health has released draft regulations for public comment, but the effects of the new scheme will not be known for some time.

You can hear and download a podcast of the the entire discussion here.

The event was the first in a series on marijuana laws to be held at the Association. Check the City Bar’s calendar for information on the next event.

 

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The New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics has issued an Opinion (2015-1), stating that a New York law firm is ethically permitted to use the services of a professional employer organization (PEO), as long as the firm: (1) does not allow the PEO to interfere with the lawyers’ ethical obligations to exercise independent professional judgment or to supervise other lawyers and nonlawyers; (2) does not allow the PEO to access confidential information relating to the firm’s clients; (3) complies with the obligation to avoid conflicts of interest; and (4) does not compensate the PEO in a manner that violates rules against sharing fees with nonlawyers.

Professional employer organizations help small businesses provide employment benefits and human resource services to their employees, such as payroll, employee training, health insurance benefits and retirement plans. PEOs allow companies to offer benefits at a lower cost and, in some instances, benefits that law firms could not provide without the PEO relationship.

New York and other states have adopted statutes governing PEOs. The New York Professional Employer Organization (NYPEO) Act defines a PEO as a business that enters into a written contract with a client to “co-employ all or a majority of the employees providing services for the client” on an “on-going rather than temporary” basis, and requires that the PEO agreement expressly allocate between the PEO and the client “[e]mployer responsibilities for worksite employees, including those of hiring, firing and disciplining” employees.

The concern for New York lawyers is whether using a PEO is consistent with a lawyer’s ethical obligations under the New York Rules, including the following:

  • The Duty to Exercise Independent Professional Judgment and Supervise Employees: “The duty to exercise professional independence is a core value of the legal profession,” notes the opinion. This value is reflected in multiple provisions of the New York Rules, including Rule 1.8(f), 2.2, 5.4(c), and 5.4(d)(3). Accordingly, “a PEO must not be allowed to influence decisions that would impact the lawyer’s ability to provide independent professional judgment to his or her clients.” Law firms are also ethically required to supervise the conduct of other lawyers and non-lawyers at the firm, as illustrated by Rule 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3. Thus, an agreement with a PEO must be tailored so that “the PEO does not have the authority to hire, terminate, or discipline employees or otherwise have control over law firm employees in connection with any aspect of the practice of law,” assuming the NYPEO Act allows for this.
  • The Duty to Preserve Confidential Information: Rule 1.6 requires a lawyer to preserve confidential information belonging to a client and to “exercise reasonable care to prevent the lawyer’s employees, associates, and others whose services are utilized by the lawyer from disclosing or using confidential information of a client,” absent an exception. Additionally, under Rule 5.1, law firms are required to make reasonable efforts to ensure that lawyers working through the PEO do not share with them clients’ confidential information, and in order to comply, the opinion notes, PEO arrangements with law firms must include reasonable safeguards to prevent this.
  • The Duty to Identify and Avoid Conflicts of Interest: Lawyers and law firms have an obligation to avoid conflicts of interest arising from current or former client relationships, as noted in Rules 1.7, 1.9 and 1.10. And given the PEO business model, it is foreseeable that a single PEO would enter into agreements with multiple law firms. But as the committee states, “as long as the PEO is not interfering with the lawyers’ professional independence, controlling or supervising employees, or accessing confidential information, we believe there is no ethical prohibition against the PEO providing similar administrative services to other law firms that represent adverse clients.” 
  • The Prohibition against Sharing Fees with Nonlawyers: Lawyers are prohibited from sharing legal fees with nonlawyers, except in limited circumstances that do not apply here. See Rule 5.4(a).  Notes the committee, “in our opinion, a law firm is ethically permitted to compensate a PEO based on a percentage of total payroll, flat fee, or fee per employee or service. As long as these payment arrangements are not based on the fees paid by the law firm’s clients, they do not violate Rule 5.4(a)’s prohibition against fee-sharing.”

Additional issues may require consideration, notes the opinion, such as whether the arrangement with the PEO complies with relevant substantive laws and the professional conduct rules of other jurisdictions, but these fall outside the jurisdiction of the Committee, which is limited to interpreting the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.

The opinion can be read here: bit.ly/1B6DXwn

 

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The George Washington University Law School won the final round of the 65th Annual National Moot Court Competition, held last night at the New York City Bar Association. The winning team was composed of Dane Shikman and Kyle Singhal. The team from Georgetown University Law Center, composed of Ani-Rae Lovell, Stephen Petkis and Terence J. McCarrick, Jr., placed second.

Back row: Francis M. Wikstrom, President, American College of Trial Lawyers; Hon. Debra A. James, Supreme Court Justice, New York County; Hon. Sidney H. Stein, United States District Court Judge, Southern District of New York; Debra L. Raskin, President, New York City Bar Association; Hon. Rosalyn H. Richter, Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Hon. Barry A. Cozier, Shareholder, LeClairRyan and former Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department; Hon. Barbara R. Kapnick, Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Division, First Department. Front row: Dane Shikman and Kyle Singhal, George Washington University Law School. Photo Credit: Michael D. Herman, PureMarketingGenius.com

Best Brief honors went to the University of Tennessee College of Law (Jarrod Casteel, Katilyn Holland and John Baxter), with Runner-Up Best Brief awarded to Wake Forest University School of Law (Karon Fowler, Caroline Massagee and Kelsey Meuret).

Best Individual Speaker went to Stephen Petkis of Georgetown University Law Center, with Runner-Up Best Individual Speaker going to Kyle Singhal of The George Washington University Law School.

The final round was judged by seven distinguished judges and attorneys: Hon. Rosalyn H. Richter, Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Hon. Debra A. James, Supreme Court Justice, New York County; Hon. Sidney H. Stein, United States District Court Judge, Southern District of New York; Hon. Barry A. Cozier, Shareholder, LeClairRyan and former Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department; Hon. Barbara R. Kapnick, Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Debra L. Raskin, President, New York City Bar Association; and Francis M. Wikstrom, President, American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Competition presented two constitutional issues. The first concerned whether the peremptory strike of a juror on the basis of sexual orientation is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. The second addressed the proper test, under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, for the extraterritorial application of U.S. antitrust law.

The final argument of the Competition was the culmination of more than six months of preparation and arguments by 175 teams from 123 law schools in every geographical area of the country competing at the regional and national levels.

The Competition is co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the National Moot Court Competition Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

 

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At the New York City Bar Association, we talk frequently about the concrete benefits of membership such as free or discounted CLE programs, professional development and skill-building opportunities, and free online research tools in the library or by remote access. In today’s world, people want a “return on investment” for their time and money and I can’t say that I blame them. These benefits are important and we’re committed to providing the best of them for our members.

But what we shouldn’t miss here is the forest for the trees, that is, the overall, general benefit of belonging to an association, and of belonging to an association like the City Bar.

Webster’s defines an association as an “organization of persons having a common interest.” Our common interest at the City Bar relates most broadly to the functioning of the legal system and the legal profession itself. More narrowly, certain subsets of our membership are interested in certain substantive topics (criminal law, trademark, bankruptcy, etc.) or giving back using our legal skills (pro bono).

By associating, we further our common interest by improving our profession, most notably through our committee work. It’s important to note that it’s a “common interest” and not a “common perspective.” In fact, it’s the diversity of our membership that makes us stronger.  And that’s not just diversity in the usual sense of race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on, but diversity of practice type or client base, diversity of socio-economic background, diversity of political views, and more. Because we strive to remain balanced in our committee membership, reports, and panels, our views are all the more respected because they reflect compromise and a shared, thoughtful opinion on the topic at hand.

At the City Bar, we are constantly brainstorming ways to bring members together when today’s technology would have us working alone at a desk. Setting aside time for networking at CLE courses and programs is one way. Creating a new space like the library lounge is another. Social events like Bar @ the Bar and Lawyers Connect allow our members to get to know each other in a less formal setting. Sharing news about your new position or promotion in our “Member Moves and Milestones” (by emailing us here) raises your profile in the profession and allows us to pause and congratulate one another on our accomplishments. Later this year, look for some web-based innovations that will offer exciting new ways to associate with other members.

We are fortunate to be a leading association in the legal field, and we owe that to the generations of members before us who came together here in this historic building. When an association reaches a critical mass, it becomes a kind of virtuous circle. Because of our reputation, you want to become a member. Because you become a member, our association grows stronger.

And that brings us full circle to member benefits, because the stronger we become as an organization, the more benefits we can provide to our members at a greater value. So yes, the specific benefits the City Bar provides its members are varied and valuable, but the simple act of joining and participating in this Association is what makes us stronger as a whole, enhances our profession, increases our collective ability to impact society, and benefits us all.

Bret Parker is Executive Director of the New York City Bar Association

 

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In the wake of the arrest of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on charges of bribery and corruption, and his subsequent resignation as Speaker, the calls for reforming state government are being heard from all quarters.

Earlier this week, the Governor put forth a five-point reform plan and said he would not pass a budget without it. The new Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, pledged to create a more open, transparent and inclusive Assembly. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), which handles state ethics enforcement together with the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC), just released a statutorily mandated report proposing several regulatory and legislative changes in order to strengthen its own investigatory and enforcement powers vis-à-vis the Executive, the Legislature and lobbyists. Finally, after repeated urging by the City Bar and others, the Governor promised the imminent appointment of the legally mandated outside panel to review the effectiveness and independence of JCOPE and the LEC, and to recommend ways to strengthen the administration and enforcement of New York’s ethics laws. This review panel was supposed to have been appointed by June 1 of last year.

Taken together, the proposed reforms cover such issues as legislative pay, campaign contribution limits, amendments to the lobbying laws, and enhanced financial disclosures for legislators; in addition, there are structural and other improvements to JCOPE and LEC that the review panel will need to address.

How will all the various strands of reform come together, if at all? We’ve certainly had these moments in the past, where a crisis leads to calls for wholesale reform, which are quickly followed by closed-door negotiations and passage of modest changes in the law. Real reform is often lacking as people simply wait for “the current environment” to change. Some will say this state of affairs is the best we can hope for given that the public is asking those in power to change the rules in a way that benefits the public, but not necessarily those in power. We don’t agree and will set our sights higher in the belief that this time the stars are aligned for true reform.

In addition to the growing chorus of public officials, we are hearing the public, the press and civic organizations call for a meaningful resolution to the decades of reform fits and starts in our political system. The City Bar is calling for the same. Led by our Government Ethics Committee, and following years of reports, public programming and legislative advocacy, we have decided to top our 2015 state legislative agenda with the following:Support efforts to bring about meaningful ethics, rules and campaign finance reform to end Albany’s ‘pay to play’ culture and bring greater transparency to the legislative process.”

The City Bar calls on the Governor and the Legislature to undertake a multi-part reform strategy this session:  first, strengthen existing ethics laws and truly empower the agency that enforces them; second, provide greater transparency in the way the legislative process works; and, third, create a public campaign finance system for all New York elections.

Ethics Reform and JCOPE.  The City Bar has long championed the need for a single independent agency that would be principally responsible for overseeing and enforcing ethics laws for the Executive, the Legislature and lobbyists alike. In 2011, JCOPE was established.  JCOPE is not perfect, and has some significant structural flaws that impact its independence, but its creation was an important first step towards cleaning up Albany. Still, there is much more to be done, as demonstrated by JCOPE’s most recent report.  Indeed, our 2014 report “Hope for JCOPE” included a detailed list of recommendations that could be undertaken immediately – without legislation – in order to strengthen JCOPE. We also made legislative recommendations aimed at increasing JCOPE’s independence, including eliminating the political party component of the special vote requirement for enforcement decisions and adding appointments by the Chief Judge, the Attorney General and the Comptroller.

Making changes to strengthen JCOPE would signal to the public the Governor’s and the Legislature’s true commitment to ethics reform. If JCOPE is given the teeth it needs to truly and independently enforce the ethics law, that would be a vitally important step. JCOPE should be supported by all branches of government, with a structure that guarantees the needed independence and vigor and with adequate resources to guarantee actual enforcement.

In addition, the Governor must make good on his promise to appoint, jointly with the legislative leaders, the statutorily-mandated commission to review JCOPE and the LEC, which we believe should result in reform proposals beyond what has already been proposed. The appointment of the review commission thus would serve to recognize that structural improvements in the State’s enforcement agency and other changes beyond those currently being recommended are essential to building a strong ethical culture in New York State Government.

Lawyer-Legislator Disclosures.  With the arrest of Speaker Silver, questions about the source of outside income and the disclosure of client information by attorney-legislators will continue to be scrutinized by the press and the public. The City Bar reaffirms its belief that, as a general rule, there is no basis for excluding lawyers from the same level of public scrutiny to which other legislators are held.  Current disclosure laws can and should be made even stronger to ensure the public’s confidence in the governing process. Indeed, robust financial-disclosure requirements have applied to legislators, including those who are attorneys, for decades in other states. Such requirements should be guided by the following general principles:

  • The type of information we believe should be disclosed would not in most cases be entitled to protection under either a claim of privilege or confidence, and in any event a system can be designed to address particular situations where the public’s interest in disclosure is outweighed by a client’s interest in secrecy.
  • Exceptions could be made in the unusual circumstance where disclosure of the fact of representation itself is privileged, or where disclosure is likely to be embarrassing or detrimental to the client.
  • An independent commission should be established to determine whether an exception is warranted in particular cases or whether certain information should be kept confidential in a case of extreme hardship that would not violate the public interest.
  • Following current law, any expanded disclosure requirements should apply prospectively, i.e., only to new clients and new matters for existing clients as of the law’s effective date, and direct that attorney-legislators inform clients in writing of their disclosure obligations under Section 73-A.

Legislative Transparency. It is in the public’s interest to have a legislature that is transparent, deliberative and accountable to the citizens of the state. We encourage both houses to hold public discussions of their operating rules and ways those rules can be improved, in a manner that takes into account the public’s interest in having a legislature that is transparent, deliberative and accountable to the citizens of the state. We urge the adoption of new rules that will:

  • Limit legislators to serving on a maximum of three committees in any given time period.
  • Require committee members to be physically present to have their votes counted.
  • Require that all bills be accompanied by the appropriate fiscal and issue analysis before receiving a vote and that all bills voted out of committee be accompanied by committee reports showing the work of the committee on the bill.
  • Mandate a ‘mark-up’ process for all bills before they are voted out of committee.
  • Explicitly provide each committee with control over its own budget.
  • Institutionalize conference committees, so that when bills addressing the same subject have been passed by both chambers, a conference committee will be convened at the request of the prime sponsor from each chamber or the Speaker and Majority Leader

The City Bar also supports legislation requiring that the proceedings and voting records of committee and session activities conducted by both houses be posted on their websites. It is high time for New Yorkers to be able to follow a bill’s activity online and in a comprehensive way.

Campaign Finance.  The City Bar supports public campaign financing in New York elections. We believe that, as guiding principles, campaign finance reform can best be achieved through:

  • The voluntary public financing of political campaigns at levels designed to attract candidates into the public financing program.
  • Stricter limits on political contributions.
  • Enhanced disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures.
  • More effective enforcement of campaign financing laws.
  • Curbs on transfers by legislative party committees.
  • Effective regulation of “independent” expenditures on campaigns that are coordinated with a candidate.
  • Stricter controls over the use of funds raised for campaigns.

It will take no less than enactment of this entire platform to restore the public’s confidence in government and its willingness to participate in the political process, and, once and for all, to put an end to the appearance of impropriety that permeates Albany and tarnishes all of its actors, even the good ones.

 

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The New York City Bar Association has released its 2015 New York State Legislative Agenda. This agenda represents only a portion of the dozens of positions generated by our committees over the course of each legislative session. It focuses on issues that are relevant to the current legislative debate or of particular importance to the City Bar, as well as legislative proposals drafted by our committees.

The following are the agenda items for 2015:

  • Support efforts to bring about meaningful ethics, rules and campaign finance reform to end Albany’s “pay to play” culture and bring greater transparency to the legislative process.
  • Support adequate funding for civil legal services.
  • Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old for all crimes.
  • Modernize New York’s public procurement construction laws to provide public owners with a wider variety of procurement and delivery modes, as necessary and appropriate, to reduce costs, speed delivery and improve quality and safety.
  • Provide state funding to support legal representation of unaccompanied migrant youth.
  • Support access to justice initiatives, including proposals to consolidate the state’s major trial courts and requiring judicial appointments by a commission of lawyers and non-lawyers.
  • Support the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act so that gender identity and gender expression are included as protected classes under the New York Human Rights Law.
  • Support the Women’s Equality Act.
  • Extend Temporary Disability Insurance benefits to cover family care leave from the workplace.
  • Support efforts to require the New York State Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders to consult a validated risk instrument when it makes a recommendation to the court regarding the appropriate risk level of a sex offender.
  • Advance City Bar-drafted bill to amend the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law to better protect art authenticators against frivolous lawsuits.
  • Advance City Bar-drafted bill to clarify and expand the category of claimants under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act so that individuals are not unreasonably or arbitrarily barred from bringing claims.
  • Advance City Bar-drafted legislation to amend the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law related to the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act and to amend the Real Property Tax Law to coordinate the treatment of three types of tax transparent entities eligible for real property tax abatements.

The City Bar’s 2015 New York State Legislative Agenda can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1Duo9kb

 

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In testimony today before the Advisory Committee on the Uniform Bar Exam, the New York City Bar Association stated its support of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s recommendation to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), effective July 2016.

“We believe that adoption of the UBE is an important reform that will significantly enhance opportunities for new lawyers to find employment wherever it is available,” states the testimony as submitted on behalf of the City Bar by Mark C. Morril, Chair of the Association’s Council on the Profession. “We believe that the UBE is correctly focused on testing the competence of the candidate on fundamental legal principles and lawyering skills that are important to entry-level practice. We also believe that adoption of the UBE by New York State will motivate other states to follow suit, thereby further advancing the goal of a more nationwide standard for admission to the bar and increased employment mobility for lawyers.”

The City Bar agrees with the Board of Law Examiners that the New York exam should continue to have a New York component.

Recognizing that moving to the UBE is a major step for New York State, the City Bar stresses the need to be alert for unforeseen consequences and to monitor its implementation in the state by compiling rigorous performance data and reviewing it annually. The City Bar recommends a formal review after three years. One area of concern for the City Bar is regarding the impact of standardized testing on historically disadvantage groups. “While no data suggest that the UBE will have a disparate impact on such groups, New York State must maintain its commitment to ensure that the bar licensing process advances the goal of setting reasonable competency standards without impeding ongoing efforts to increase diversity in the profession,” states the testimony.

As to timing of implementation, “[w]e believe that a July 2016 adoption date provides a reasonable time frame for law schools to make any adjustments to their curriculum they deem advisable and for potential test takers to set their expectations,” the testimony states. “We firmly believe that there should be no further delay beyond 2016 in the implementation of this important reform.”

The City Bar has a long history of involvement and concern with the New York State Bar Exam. Most recently, in 2012, a task force set up by then-City Bar President Carey Dunne and chaired by Morril found that state-specific bar exams significantly limited lawyer mobility at a time when the practice of law is increasingly national and global.

“We believe that adoption of the UBE, with its portable scores, will significantly advance the important interest of lawyer mobility in the nationwide marketplace,” states today’s testimony. “The City Bar believes that the benefits of the UBE will increase as more states follow New York and students can seek out employment opportunities nationwide with confidence that success on the New York State Bar Exam will provide most of what is needed to become licensed in another state.  Conversely, adoption of the UBE also will enable New York employers to more readily draw on a talent pool of new lawyers who have taken the exam elsewhere and can become licensed in New York by successfully completing a readily accessible New York module.”

The testimony may be read here: http://bit.ly/1ynS3XF

 

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