ICYMI – Bret Parker

Bret I. Parker

Winter/Spring 2019

I was walking on air coming out of the packed January CLE on “Mindfulness for Lawyers.” I even downloaded a meditation app and signed up for a free trial. How forward-looking of all these lawyers to take this course, which promises to improve “focus, productivity, and well-being,” and how great that one of the City Bar’s newer committees is “Mindfulness & Well-Being in Law.” These developments speak to the widespread acknowledgement that wellbeing and “self-care” are indispensable to the effective and efficient practice of law, and they offer an antidote to the smartphone-addiction epidemic plaguing so many of us.

OK, true confession: Since then I haven’t used the free trial, but I was inspired to reflect on all the other activities that have been going on over the past few months at the City Bar, and about how so many of them are interconnected and build on one another.

The Pass the Bar Reception in December marked the launch of legal careers for hundreds of soon-to-be-practicing lawyers. For many of them from diverse backgrounds, it was also a culmination of the pipeline process that helped them get there. In January, hundreds of future attendees of pass-the-bar receptions attended the Annual LSAT Prep/Law School Conference put on by our Office of Diversity and Inclusion. And reaching back even younger, several of our committees assembled a panel of education experts to examine the question “Is Desegregation Possible in New York City’s Schools?”

Career development never stops at the City Bar, no matter what kind of law you practice or aspire to. Our Small Law Firm Symposium showed hundreds of lawyers how to market their firms and run them more efficiently, and two programs offered indispensable advice and networking for lawyers interested in becoming judges. One featured U.S. magistrate judges from the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York as well as the chairs of the screening panel in each district, and the other featured an extraordinary assemblage of dozens of judges of all kinds on the federal, state, and county levels. For in-house lawyers, our Corporate Counsel Symposium covered issues and skills specific to their roles, and our “Bar@theBar” happy hour for in-house counsel provided them an informal forum for networking.

Blockchain! I vow to learn more about it, but we have some of the most avidlyattended blockchain programs anywhere featuring leading experts who know their way around a transaction block. These programs included an overview of the field in January; a program in late November covering the intersection of blockchain technology and intellectual property rights; and, in strong support of the topic’s relevance, a dedicated panel on blockchain in our 7th Annual Securities Litigation & Enforcement Institute. That institute, by the way, drew interest for its keynote address by David Boies on the rule of law, which was introduced by George Conway and is available for viewing on our website. 

Demonstrating the City Bar’s responsiveness to the issues of the day, the Sexual Harassment Summit and the 5th Annual Employment Law Institute both addressed the changing legal landscape and employer best practices in light of #MeToo. And freedom-of-speech issues remained top of mind, as seen in our statement condemning the President’s targeting of the free press, and our second annual First Amendment program featuring Floyd Abrams, Nadine Strossen, and other leading experts in the field (which you can catch on C-SPAN).

On the lighter side, a celebration was in order as the City Bar Chorus marked 25 years of serving the community with a concert in the Great Hall.

Finally, the City Bar honored two individuals for their extraordinary contributions and leadership in delivering justice and safeguarding the rule of law, with Honorary Membership for former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Association Medal and portrait unveiling for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Truly there is rarely a quiet day at the City Bar. But one of these days, I’m determined to start using that meditation app.

You can watch or listen to recordings of many of these programs by visiting the media page of our website. To keep up with all that goes on at the City Bar, be sure to read the eNews that lands in your inbox most Mondays.

As always, I invite you to contact me at

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