Making a Difference on 9/11 and Every Day – Bret I. Parker

Bret I. Parker

September 2017

Most of my 9/11 thoughts and social media posts over the years have been backward looking, and there will always be an element of that for me as a native New Yorker who was here in my hometown that day. For me, this year 9/11 is an emotional and especially meaningful combination of history and future colliding. As many of you know, in the days almost immediately after the horrific attacks, people lined up around the block of the New York City Bar Association to volunteer to help victims and survivors because that’s what it means to be a lawyer or legal professional. And in the months after, we spoke up in defense of the rule of law, which faced some of its greatest threats in the face of terrorism.

The Chief Judge of New York State at the time, Judith Kaye, walked the line giving words of thanks and encouragement to volunteers waiting their turn to help. Judge Kaye died last year, but today we dedicate a renovated and renamed “Kaye Room” (formerly “Room 2”) in her honor at the City Bar. The first room in the building to be named after a woman (almost all the rooms were named back in the days when women weren’t fairly recognized), how fitting that its inaugural use was to host a meeting last week for the task force just appointed by current Chief Judge Janet DiFiore (and co-chaired by City Bar President John Kiernan) to organize attorney pro bono efforts to help Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

As in the days after 9/11, and in the decades before and the years since, the City Bar’s members and staff have been there to support the public and profession, serving as a convener for our community and helping to make a difference in good times and bad. We do that on the “big” days like today, but we also try do that in so many small ways, sometimes making a difference in the career of just one new lawyer, a pro bono client or a City Bar member seeking to serve on a committee.

So, it’s a sad day thinking back but a hopeful one looking forward and concrete proof that we are resilient and even stronger than before. Whether it’s in response to Harvey, Irma or whatever the next challenge is, thanks for everything you do, and are doing, to make a difference every day.

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