Alan Rothstein will not like this column, because it’s all about him. Actually, he’ll probably hate it because it’s about him at all.

In case you haven’t heard, Alan Rothstein, our General Counsel, is retiring after thirty years at the New York City Bar Association. And what do you think Alan said when we pried a quote out of him for our announcement of his retirement? He said he would miss “the terrific staff” and “the many, many volunteers who completely dispel the notion that lawyers do not give back to their community.”

How very Alan, trying to make it about others. Alan Rothstein would have the world’s lowest score on the Full-of-Himself Index, if there were such an index. It’s hard even to find a photo of Alan because he’s always jumping out of the shot, which is quite the feat since we can’t remember when he hasn’t been at the center of the action around here.

While he’s been a great General Counsel, Alan has been so much more than that. He’s also been an extraordinary general counsel, lower case if you will, and that’s why he’s had such a profound effect on everyone with whom he’s worked. Ask people about Alan and you’ll hear: “He treats everyone the same.” “He always makes time for me no matter how busy he is.” “Alan helped me get it done.” “When he dabbles in my area, he does it better than I do.” “His fingerprints are all over this building.”

Space constraints prohibit a full accounting of Alan’s accomplishments, but any list would have to begin with those blurry days and weeks after 9/11, with the trainings of volunteer lawyers and the clinics for victims’ families. Who would you want rather than Alan to communicate and coordinate with the Mayor’s office and city agencies during a crisis? Talk to people at the City Bar Justice Center who were in the thick of it and they’ll describe Alan at the time, quintessentially, as being both ubiquitous and insistently behind the scenes.

The City Bar has long benefited from Alan’s core passions for civil liberties and good government. In the years following 9/11, quick to recognize the unique historical moment upon us in the tension between national security policy and civil rights, Alan guided the City Bar’s response in creating the Task Force on National Security and the Rule of Law. “He brings together law, policy, and action,” is how a colleague describes what Alan does.

Bravo, but if you’re wondering what makes Alan tick, look not to the high-profile but to the low-profile work. Because if Alan treats everyone the same, he also treats all of the work the same – with excellence, patience, persistence, and any other admirable quality you can think of. After praising everyone else’s work, here’s the other thing Alan said about his retirement: “I have been incredibly lucky to work in an organization of such high integrity that is so focused on serving the legal profession and, to me more significantly, the public interest.”

This, I believe, is the key to Alan’s work ethic. When Alan guides a committee report from conception to completion; or when he nurtures a new department like the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; or when he troubleshoots an issue at the Vance Center, he’s not pushing paper and dealing with people. He’s upholding the rule of law and increasing access to justice. He’s carrying out the mission of the New York City Bar Association and the highest principles of our profession. This mission-imbued approach to office work, this ethic that all the work, even the most prosaic, is important and, if done right, adds up to make a difference, appears to be what  makes Alan tick.

Everyone is in a bit of denial about Alan’s leaving. We’ll miss his wise counsel, his puckish humor, and his reassuring presence by the Meeting Hall door. But we’ll be fine, because he showed us what to do and how to do it. Plus we’ll reassign his responsibilities to four colleagues, hire two more lawyers, and mobilize the whole crew that it will take to fill his shoes.

And, if you’re fretting that Alan will be the type of person who doesn’t know what to do with himself in retirement, don’t worry, Alan will be fine, too. He will take a good long break, immerse himself in his next chapter, and then find new ways to do what he’s always done—express his values, exercise his ethical muscles, and make the world a better place—including by serving on a City Bar committee.

And with that, in conclusion, a tip to readers and fair warning to Alan: Following the summer of 2015, when he no longer works here, the next time you see Alan Rothstein at the City Bar, and you will see him, his longstanding no-hug policy will no longer be enforceable.

Debra L. Raskin is President of the New York City Bar Association

Editor’s Note: The City Bar’s Executive Committee has voted to present Alan Rothstein with the Association Medal for exceptional contributions to the honor and standing of the bar. He will be the 25th recipient, since 1952, of the Association Medal.


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The New York City Bar Association has announced the results of its annual election to fill its leadership positions:

Debra L. Raskin, Vladeck Waldman Elias & Englehard PC, returns as President.

David M. Brodsky, Brodsky ADR LLC, returns as Vice President and is joined by Hon. Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals and Eruch (“Elchi”) P. Nowrojee, the Carlyle Group.

Damian Schaible, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, joins the Executive Committee as Treasurer.

Ona T. Wang, Baker & Hostetler LLP, returns as Secretary of the Association.

The Executive Committee Class of 2019 is: Jordan Backman, Sony Corporation of America; Pui Chi (P.C.) Cheng, Law Offices of Cheng & Associates PLLC; Muhammad Faridi, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP; Hon. Edgardo Ramos, Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of New York.

Elected to the Executive Committee Class of 2018 is Sarah L. Cave, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, who previously had been appointed to the Executive Committee to fill a vacancy in the Class of 2015.

Hallie B. Levin, Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, will serve as Chair of the Executive Committee and Carmelyn Malalis, Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, will serve as Secretary of the Executive Committee.

The City Bar’s Executive Committee consists of 16 elected members, and six officers (who are ex officio members). The elected members of the Executive Committee are divided into four classes of four members each, with each class holding office for four years.

In keeping with the City Bar’s diversity objectives, of the 22 members, 12 are male and 10 are female; and just over 40% (9 of the 22) are from historically underrepresented groups.

View the officers and members of the Executive Committee here.

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The New York City Bar Association has written to the American Bar Association urging that the prohibition on law schools giving academic credit to students who work for private employers be eliminated, primarily because “it greatly restricts the number of opportunities for experiential learning, prevents the student from being paid for valuable work and lacks justification.” The Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar sets accreditation standards for law schools in the United States.

As the letter states, law school applications have substantially decreased over the past ten years, while tuition and student debt have risen. Law school revenue has been declining, as have job prospects for law students. In response to this crisis, the City Bar created the Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession, which, among its recommendations, suggested that law schools focus on the goal of training more “practice-ready” graduates, by experimenting with different changes to the curriculum. The Task Force urged the development of “Bridge to Practice” programs that provide dynamic, practical experience for third-year law students.

“It is self-evident that employment prospects for graduating third-year law students would be substantially enhanced if students, in addition to their classroom education, had greater opportunities to work for legal employers in a supervised, academically-linked setting before graduation,” states the letter. “The program would be designed to assist students in building real lawyering skills, becoming more marketable after graduation, creating jobs with employers who might otherwise hire only laterally, compensating students in some instances, and in any event ultimately helping to mitigate the high cost of law school.”

Still, despite the expressed willingness of several private employers to participate in Bridge to Practice programs, efforts to implement them in the private sector have been greatly limited due to ABA Standard 305 and Interpretation 305-2, which states that “A law school may not grant credit to a student for participation in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation.”

Yet, as the letter explains, “under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) private employers are (practically speaking) required to pay student interns. Thus, a law student can work for a government or non-profit law office, which is not subject to the FLSA, and can gain both academic credit and valuable experience with the potential for future employment with that employer. However, that same student cannot have the same experience working for a private sector employer who, to avoid violating the FLSA, would have to pay the student, thereby preventing that student from receiving academic credit for the employment experience.”

A well structured program involving private employers, notes the letter, “would provide the experiential learning opportunities so needed by law students without undercutting any of the objectives of a sound legal education,” as each individual law school would have the discretion to assess whether the placement is sufficiently educational to earn academic credit, or whether to implement a program such as this at all.

The letter concludes, “We respectfully recommend that the ABA eliminate this prohibition completely and allow a student who works for an employer in an approved program to receive both academic credit and compensation.”

The letter may be read here:


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The New York City Bar Association has announced the winners of this year’s Kathryn A. McDonald Awards, which are presented annually for excellence in service to the Family Court.

This year’s honorees, Stephanie Jill Gendell and Brian Zimmerman, have dedicated their abilities and leadership skills throughout their careers to the Family Court and the population that it serves.

Gendell currently serves as the Associate Executive Director for Policy and Government Relations at the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc. (CCC). Zimmerman is an attorney practicing in New York City Family Court, including as Assigned Counsel.

The awards will be presented at a City Bar reception on May 26th at 6 p.m., by Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. The reception also honors the judges of the New York City Family Court for their dedicated work.

The Kathryn A. McDonald Award is named in honor of the former Supervising Judge of the New York City Family Court and is sponsored by the City Bar’s Committees on Children and the Law; Family Court and Family Law; Juvenile Justice; Domestic Violence and its Council on Children.


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The New York City Bar Association commends Representative Hakeem Jeffries and cosponsors for reintroducing H.R. 1700, the Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act (“VIVA”). The bill would address an astounding due process gap:  under existing law, unaccompanied children routinely appear in immigration court without counsel. According to government data analyzed by Politico, about 59 percent of all unaccompanied children appearing in immigration court since July 2014 were unrepresented. The City Bar strongly supports the effort to ensure fair procedures for children and for adults with mental disabilities, and urges the passage of this bill.

Americans are proud of their judicial system which grants indigent defendants in criminal trials the right to government-appointed counsel. The consequences of immigration removal hearings can be as severe as those of criminal trials, literally resulting in life or death. In a recent study, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees found that at least 58 percent of children arriving from Mexico and Central America had claims to international protection based upon violence or harm experienced in their countries of origin. Yet, asylum-seekers and others seeking protection from violence abroad too often have no access to counsel.

Recent reports have highlighted the absurdity of asking a child to represent herself in a complex court proceeding, while facing off against trained government counsel. Politico found that only seven percent of unaccompanied children who are unrepresented win their cases or have them administratively closed, as compared with 69 percent of children with counsel. Counsel assist children in navigating exceedingly complex legal requirements and procedures and help immigration judges make correct decisions under the law. Attorneys spend many hours building trust and preparing children to recount deeply traumatic experiences to prove their right to asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or other protection.

Counsel is a critical component of due process in all removal proceedings. Deporting children or people with serious mental disabilities without legal representation is fundamentally unfair and violates basic American values.

Counsel also makes a difference in the efficiency of court proceedings: The Immigration Policy Center found that children who are represented by an attorney are almost three times more likely to appear in court than those without counsel. The National Economic Research Associates (NERA) has found that appointed counsel in removal proceedings would result in more efficient proceedings, reduced detention, and lower foster care and transportation outlays—savings that could equal the cost of the program. Providing appointed counsel for all persons in removal proceedings thus makes proceedings faster and fairer without increasing the cost to taxpayers.

The City Bar supports a right to appointed counsel in removal proceedings, and VIVA is an important first step.


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The New York City Bar Association will present its 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Awards at the Diversity and Inclusion Celebration Dinner on June 11th. The award recognizes the critical role individual attorneys have played in initiating and sustaining change within their organizations and the overall New York legal community. The award recipients embody the New York City Bar’s Statement of Diversity Principles, which defines diversity as an inclusive concept, encompassing race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, nationality, age, disability and marital and parental status. This year marks a decade of recognizing Diversity and Inclusion Champions.

The 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award winners are:

Kathy Hirata ChinPartner, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
Kathy Hirata Chin is a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. She is a member of the litigation group specializing in healthcare and real estate issues. Ms. Chin graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude and Columbia Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Trasnational Law. She served as Commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission from 1995-2001 and is currently a Commissioner on the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption, a position she has held since Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her in August 2003. She has served on Governor Mario Cuomo’s Judicial Screening Committee for the First Department, the Gender Bias Committee of the Second Circuit Task Force, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye’s Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections, and the Second Circuit Judicial Conference Planning and Program Committee. She currently serves on the Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council and the Commercial Division Advisory Council, appointed to both by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, and on the Board of Directors of the Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping older adults and people with disabilities access affordable health care. In December 2012 and again in December 2014, she was nominated for appointment to the New York State Court of Appeals by the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination.

Hon. Fern Fisher – Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, New York City Courts and Director, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program
Justice Fisher’s career started in the Civil Court as a Legal Services attorney practicing in Manhattan Housing Court. She served as Deputy Director of Harlem Legal Services, Inc. and as an Assistant Attorney General of the New York State Department of Law. For four years, she provided pro bono legal services to Harlem-based community organizations as a project director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. In 1989, she was appointed Judge of the Housing Part of the Civil Court, and later, in 1990, was elected to the Civil Court where she served as Deputy Supervising Judge. Judge Fisher was elected in 1993 to the Supreme Court of the State of New York. After serving in both the City and the Matrimonial Parts of Supreme Court, in December 1996 she was appointed Administrative Judge of the Civil Court where she served until March 2009 when she was appointed to her current position. Justice Fisher is a founding member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, a member and past Board member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the New York County Lawyers Association. In 2006, Harvard Law School awarded her the Gary Bellow Public Service Award. In 2008, she was appointed to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. Justice Fisher received her B.A. summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in 1975 from Howard University and received her J.D. in 1978 from Harvard Law School.                  

Darryl Gibbs – Lead Director and Associate General Counsel, AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company
Darryl W. Gibbs is a Lead Director & Associate General Counsel at AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, a financial services company. He leads the legal department’s internship and mentoring program and activities and he is a major strategic supporter and influencer of AXA’s overall diversity and inclusion efforts both inside and outside the legal department. Prior to AXA, Darryl worked at the New York law firm Proskauer Rose as an associate in the corporate department. He later worked as an Assistant General Counsel in the law department of Safe Horizon, Inc., the nation’s leading victims assistance agency. Darryl is a 2009 alumnus of the Executive Leadership Council – Strengthening the Pipeline Program and a member of Council of Urban Professionals (CUP). He is also a Board Member of several organizations, including The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (New York City), and St. John’s University School of Law Alumni Association. Darryl is the recipient of the New York State Bar Association 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award. He earned his undergraduate degree in marketing at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University and his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law

Taa Grays – Assistant General Counsel and Chief of Staff to the General Counsel, MetLife
Taa has served as the Chief of Staff to MetLife’s General Counsel since 2010, where she works closely with him and his leadership team to identify, document and communicate Legal Affairs’ initiatives. She also manages a team responsible for providing a wide-range of operational support for the Legal Affairs department. She is active in several committees at MetLife, including the Legal Affairs Diversity Committee. Taa started with MetLife in 2003 in the Litigation Section, where her practice handled various federal and state lawsuits and regulatory complaints stemming from MetLife’s US Business and Investment activities. She also coordinated and oversaw MetLife’s e-discovery responses to regulatory, pre-litigation and litigation matters as the eDiscovery Counsel and managed a cross-functional team that managed MetLife’s discovery obligations. Prior to MetLife, Taa was an Assistant District Attorney with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in its Rackets Bureau for five and a half years. She is also very active in the legal community and holds leadership positions with several organizations, including president of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. Taa received her A.B. from Harvard College and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

The 2015 Trailblazer award winner is:

Anna L. Brown Special Attorney/Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Shearman & Sterling LLP
As Special Attorney/Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Anna L. Brown is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm’s global diversity and inclusion initiative, and serves as the Executive Director of Shearman & Sterling’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Ms. Brown is a frequent lecturer and panelist on topics related to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession; including serving, for the past eight consecutive years, as the Program Co-Chair of the Practising Law Institute Annual Law Firm Diversity Symposium, and at the NALP Annual Conference, New York City Bar Association Diversity Conference, NALP Diversity Summit, Minority Corporate Counsel Association Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference, the American Conference Institute, ACLEA Annual Conference, Equal Justice Conference, Women In Law Empowerment Forum, New York Law Journal Diversity Roundtable, and ALI-ABA Professional Development Institute, among other speaking engagements. Ms. Brown is the co-author of “Diversity in Action: A Manual for Diversity Professionals in Law,” a new publication designed as a resource and educational tool for those performing diversity roles in law firms and corporate legal departments. She is a graduate cum laude of Howard University School of Law and is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey.

Tickets to the Celebration Dinner may be purchased on the City Bar’s website. For further information please contact Clare Plunkett at (212) 382-6772 or


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The New York City Bar Legal Referral Service, together with the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program, will host a free legal information fair in observance of National Law Day, on May 1st from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Collect Pond Park (Leonard Street between Centre and Lafayette) in Manhattan.

Community leaders and representatives from the New York State Courts and social service organizations will be available to answer questions and provide information about their services. At the fair, residents will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about their legal rights and how to be proactive in addressing legal issues they may confront
  • Pick up helpful brochures, forms, and other materials that discuss common legal topics
  • Get a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can help answer questions
  • Discover whether they have a legal issue and find out whether they need a lawyer
  • Find out if they should seek help from a local, state, or federal agency and, if so, which one
  • Learn about other legal services providers that can handle their specific issue

Lawyers will be available to provide basic information and advice on such issues as landlord/tenant law, consumer law, estate planning/elder law, foreclosure, bankruptcy prevention, small claims court, divorce and family law, and more. For additional information, please call Julia Schnurr at 212-382-6789 or email her here.


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Alan Rothstein, the General Counsel of the New York City Bar Association, will retire in July after nearly 30 years of service, the City Bar announced today.

During his time at the City Bar, Rothstein has served as the primary source of advice and counsel to the association’s presidents and committees as they prepared reports, policy statements, amicus briefs and letters to public officials and heads of state on matters of policy and law reform.

“The modern history of the New York City Bar Association could not be written without prominent mention of Alan Rothstein’s contributions,” said City Bar President Debra L. Raskin. “He has been a guiding force in our work, particularly in the areas of civil liberties and government reform. And as anyone who has had the pleasure of working with him knows, he is just a wonderful human being whose presence will be greatly missed here.”

“I have been incredibly lucky to work in an organization of such high integrity that is so focused on serving the legal profession and, to me more significantly, the public interest,” Rothstein said. “I will miss the terrific staff and the many, many volunteers who completely dispel the notion that lawyers do not give back to their community.”

Rothstein’s responsibilities will be handled by a combination of current staff and new hires. Maria Cilenti, currently the City Bar’s Director of Legislative Affairs, will become Senior Policy Counsel, overseeing all of the City Bar’s policy work through its committees. Ann Rappleye, currently Director of CLE, will add the role of Program Director, overseeing the hundreds of CLE and non-CLE programs produced by the City Bar’s committees each year. Martha Harris will expand her responsibility as Director of Career Development and Committee Engagement, becoming the point person for committee governance issues and overseeing the process of committee appointments. Thomas Halter, currently Chief Financial Officer, will assume an expanded role as Chief Administrative Officer, with primary responsibility for the sound financial and technical operations of the City Bar.


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