Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Executive Director's Page

Bret Parker, NYC Bar Executive Director

Bret I. Parker
Winter 2016

 

 

Thank You, Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz

When the architect Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz conceived his design for the House of the Association that would open in the fall of 1896 at 42 West 44th Street, among his prerequisites was the creation of three very large spaces. One would be for the library. The other two would be for large gatherings, and would become what we know today as the Meeting Hall and the Reception Area.

Public meetings—whether panel discussions on topics of the day, speeches by important public figures or Continuing Legal Education courses—have always been central to the City Bar’s mission. Even in today’s world of webinars and conference calls, the opportunity to connect in person, catch up with colleagues, and meet new people is critical to our personal and professional development. Some would argue that the increasing rarity of these personal interactions makes them more important than ever. In any case, it is an enormous benefit of City Bar membership to have such great spaces in such a fine location in which to hold meetings.

It’s therefore been incumbent on the Association through the years to ensure that it makes the most of the times we meet in person, balancing the historical charm of the building and rich history of the City Bar along with the best technological advances of the day. Among other refinements, in 1947 there were acoustic improvements made to the Meeting Hall, and a new sound system was installed in that space 35 years after that. Our 130-seat CLE center, another public meeting space, was created in 2000 and outfitted with what at the time was called “state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment that will...allow the staff to produce high quality audio and video tapes for sale to those who want to study in their offices or at home.”

Now, I’m pleased to report on several improvements we have made to our landmark building and to how we host our public meetings. Things may not look very different in the Meeting Hall, but we believe you’ll hear the difference that new wiring and a new sound system can make. New HD cameras and projectors in the Meeting Hall and CLE Center will improve the experience of both live and online programs. Members who get their CLE credits at the City Bar will have access to a new, state-of-the-art platform for webcasts, both live and On Demand. And with “single sign-on,” access is as easy as signing in to your City Bar account. For our most popular and news-making events, A/V improvements will allow simulcasting into multiple rooms to accommodate overflow attendance, and news cameras will be able to plug directly into our audio feed.

We know our members have plenty of options for live events and CLE programs (both in-person and online). But we believe the City Bar is the pre-eminent venue, with the highest-caliber speakers and the best chance to interact with colleagues and leaders in the profession, all at a reasonable cost (often free or discounted for City Bar members), with the revenue reinvested in all of the great work the City Bar does for the profession and the public.

Having saved the most exciting news for last, I’m pleased to announce the addition to our staff of Helen Herman as Director of Programs. Helen brings us more than two decades of experience in creating innovative legal programming. As Executive Director of Continuing Legal Education and Academic Conferences at Fordham University School of Law, she collaborated with other law schools, the judiciary, bar associations, law firms, corporations, and government agencies. Helen’s previous experience as Executive Producer of Fordham’s Forum on Law, Culture, and Society, where she produced the Forum Film Festival and Conversation Series from its inception in 2006 until 2012, should serve her well as she also heads up non-CLE programming at the City Bar.

There’s more news coming on these fronts, but for now, with Helen overseeing development of our programming and the addition of  upgraded technology, stay tuned for a great deal of interesting and rewarding events at the House of the Association.