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New York City Bar Association Announces Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession

(Updated to include new members)

The Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorneys; New York City’s Corporation Counsel; Deans and leaders of Columbia, Harvard, Georgetown, CUNY and Cardozo Law Schools; law firm leaders from Paul Weiss, Simpson Thacher, Skadden Arps and Freshfields; the chief in-house counsel from BNY Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Xerox and Con Ed; and the heads of The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services of New York are among those convening at the New York City Bar Association to address what City Bar President Carey Dunne has described as the “plight of young lawyers.”

Noting that recent ABA statistics show that only 55% of recent law graduates found full-time legal employment and that clients increasingly are unwilling to have new lawyers staffed on their matters, Dunne said, “Too many law graduates face diminished opportunities to launch their careers and fear they will never get on track. Even those who are employed are justifiably worried about their longer-term prospects for a productive and satisfying career in the law. Whether these recent changes are temporary or reflect a more fundamental shift in the structure and operation of the legal profession, the time has come for the leaders of our profession to respond.”

The New York City Bar Association’s “Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession” will be led by City Bar Vice President Mark Morril, who said, “The group we have assembled has the depth and breadth of experience necessary to assess the problem and the leadership position to be heard on significant recommendations for change if they are warranted.”

Members of the task force, which will convene in September and plans to issue a report next summer, are listed below. The group also expects to add several law students or new lawyers to its ranks.

Chair
Mark Morril – Vice President, New York City Bar Association; Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Viacom Inc.

Law School Deans and Leaders
Nicholas Allard – Dean, Brooklyn Law School
Michelle J. Anderson – Dean, CUNY School of Law
Anthony Crowell, Dean, New York Law School
Matthew Diller – Dean, Cardozo Law School
Richard Revesz, Dean, NYU School of Law
Patricia Salkin,
Dean & Professor of Law Designate, Touro Law Center
David Schizer
– Dean, Columbia Law School
William Treanor – Dean, Georgetown Law School
David B. Wilkins – Director, Program on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School

Government Attorneys
Michael Cardozo – Corporation Counsel of the City of New York
Charles J. Hynes – District Attorney of Kings County
Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. – District Attorney of New York County

Large Law Firm Leaders
Richard I. Beattie – Chairman, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Bradley Butwin, Chair, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Eric J. Friedman – Executive Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Brad S. Karp – Chairman, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Julian Pritchard – U.S. Managing Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Kathleen M. Sullivan – Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Solo, Small and Medium Sized Law Firms
Laurie Berke-Weiss – Partner, Berke-Weiss & Pechman LLP
Andrew G. Celli, Jr. – Founding Partner, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
Carmelyn P. Malalis – Partner, Outten & Golden LLP
Alla Roytberg – Founder, Law Firm and Mediation Practice of Alla Roytberg, P.C.
Eric Seiler – Partner, Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP
Charles A. Stillman – Founding Member, Stillman & Friedman, P.C.

Legal Services Organizations
Steven Banks – Attorney-in-Chief, The Legal Aid Society
Raun J. Rasmussen – Executive Director, Legal Services NYC

Chief In-House Counsel
Eric Grossman – Chief Legal Officer, Morgan Stanley
Don H. Liu – General Counsel, Xerox
Elizabeth D. Moore – General Counsel, Consolidated Edison, Inc.
Amy W. Schulman – General Counsel, Pfizer Inc.
Jane C. Sherburne – General Counsel, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
Wanji J. Walcott – Managing Counsel, American Express Company

Career Services and Recruiting Professionals
Camille Chin-Kee-Fatt – Director of Career Services, Brooklyn Law School
Sharon Crane – Director of Legal Recruiting, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

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5 Responses to New York City Bar Association Announces Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession

  1. NY Courts ex wife says:

    Yet another committee composed of only attorneys with no client or advocate representation. How can you hope to analyze a “problem” if you’re only looking at it from one angle? :)

    If you look at this from your clients’ perspectives, you would see that this is indeed a long-term situation. Just like the Arab nations, the legal world has changed – permanently. The explosion of the internet and social media has enabled smarter litigants and clients who have quickly learned that most legal work is merely “paper shuffling” and motion filings are nothing more than a “find and replace” Word document exercise (take a similar case, white out the prior client’s name, and replace with the current client’s). There is now a proliferation of Pro Se litigant groups who share their case info and reuse it for their own filings (just like their lawyers would have done, except at several hundred dollars an hour). Many Pro Se litigants have achieved considerable success, even at appellate levels, and have changed law – such litigants are more than willing to share with others facing similar battles. For those who fear going solo, there’s always CraigsList where an unemployed law school grad, or a disgruntled associate, can earn extra money. And who needs to pay a lawyer to do legal research on Lexis any more when Google Scholar will give you the same citations (along with full copies of the decisions to annex to your filing) for free?

    In the current economy, businesses are unwilling to pay exorbitant law firm rates and are now demanding line-by-line audits of the legal bills. Internal auditors love such audits because they inevitably uncover undocumented and unsupported expenses, incorrect time-reporting, sloppy and incomplete work descriptions, and other elementary accounting and operational errors (legal bills are easy prey for a financial whiz).

    The bottom line: clients are smart and they now have an easy way to educate each other. The legal profession is behind the times by at least two decades. Our courts need to embrace technology, including the use of electronic conferences – why should a client have to take a day off from work to sit around a courthouse all day for a lousy 10 minute hearing when they could simply stay at work and sign on to Skpye instead? Why should a spouse have to wait months for discovery hearings and filings when seven years of financial information can be downloaded from a bank/investment firm/insurance company in minutes? Why must a client pay for nine copies of a case file to be manually delivered to the appellate courts when the file could just as easily be PDF’d and electronically transmitted in one click? Heck, some courts and lawyers still use Word Perfect – no one in business has used that program since the 1980′s! The entire system needs an overhaul – the students are being trained for a profession that is out of touch. Little wonder, then, why they can’t get jobs.

  2. NY Courts ex wife says:

    I should have added that the antiquated court procedures are probably the main reason why litigants are now seeking alternative methods to resolve their issues. Mediators, arbitrators, and other collaberative methods are far peferable to a legal system that insists on pomp and circumstance, ancient rules, endless forms, manual procedures, convoluted policies, and outdated statutes. In mediation, clients can at least be heard – in courts, they are told to shut up. In cases where aging parents have been robbed blind and their loved ones don’t know where the money went, they are limited by discovery rules and told that they cannot audit the accused’s finances because that would be engaging in “fishing expeditions”. And where else but in the court system would you encounter an order ruling that a motion must be completely resubmitted in the form of a plenary action, forcing the victim to start from scratch? A normal person (i.e., not a judge) would simply white out “motion” and write in “plenary”! Little wonder then, that potential clients are seeking anyone else, other than a lawyer and the courts, to settle their differences.

  3. Jane says:

    Regarding this task force – big question for the President of the city bar and the task force: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THE LL.M’S? When will your firms come out of the bad policy of only hiring from their summer associates/their JD’s and get the message that LL.M’s are a good hire, whether recent or not recent.

    Please stop excluding us from the legal profession and give us an opportunity to show that we are just as good as American lawyers! Thanks.

  4. Marcia Mills says:

    I am a solo practitioner who provides basic legal services at moderate rates. I find that there is a huge demand for this type of law practise-clients much prefer hiring a lawyer to legal zoom forms kits if they can afford the legal fees. If you keep your overhead low and work efficiently, you can make a comfortable living without charging high hourly rates. Many young out of work lawyers could do the same thing I do, if they only knew how. I submit that our court system is not the only thing out of date-our legal education system is also behind the times. I would like to suggest that law schools better train young law grads in basic legal practise methods, legal marketing, and law firm economics so that they are able to open their own practises if so inclined as soon as they pass the bar exam.

  5. J.Tesfay says:

    Ms. Marcia Mills,
    My partner and I graduated last year and are in the process of opening a practice. I found your post very thoughtful and was wondering if you could post a contact email for yourself. If it wouldn’t be much trouble, I would like to reach out to you for additional wisdom and insight.
    Thank you for your time.

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