Rule of Law Task Force and Five Committees Honored with “Bar of Hope Presidential Awards”

At the City Bar’s Annual Meeting on May 18, President Sheila S. Boston announced and presented a new honor for City Bar Committees: The Bar of Hope Presidential Awards. “We have over 150 committees, and they all do such wonderful work,” she said. “But I want to take a moment to recognize just a few of them in a very personal and special way.”

Following are the Bar of Hope Presidential Award honoree and the five Honorable Mentions, along with President Boston’s presentation remarks:

Bar of Hope Presidential Award 

Chaired by: Stephen L. Kass (pictured below with award)

Steve Kass holding Bar of Hope Presidential Award

Chair Stephen L. Kass, Committee Secretaries Michael Shapiro and Nilima Singh, and all members of the Rule of Law Task Force — in collaboration with other groups like the Task Force for the Independence of Lawyers and Judges and the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee, we could not have done all of the tremendous rule-of-law work product without you. You presented an excellent five-part Forum on the Rule of Law, featuring some of today’s best-known legal analysts and commentators. I thank you so much for your unwavering support. In developing our position statements, we had some late nights, some serious debates and lots of editing and red-lining of documents. But I think that every minute and all of the energy devoted to our efforts to promote and protect the rule of law were certainly worth it. So, thank you, Rule of Law Task Force and congratulations for a job well done!  

Bar of Hope Presidential Award: Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

Animal Law Committee
Chaired by:  Christopher Wlach

The Animal Law Committee is a super-active and dedicated committee that is always creatively up to something. They recently were widely quoted in articles about the State Senate’s passage of a bill to curtail puppy mills and encourage pet shops to partner with shelters and rescue organizations instead. They are prolific report writers, and I am so thankful for their vigilance in the protection of animals, and I have learned so much from them.

Compliance Committee
Chaired by: Patrick T. Campbell

I and our policy gurus have been very impressed with the Compliance Committee.  They have been very proactive and engaged over the past bar year.  Notably, their report on Chief Compliance Officer Liability received a lot of attention in the media and among government officials.  Moreover, they are in the process of launching a blog on compliance issues.  They do such wonderful work in the area of compliance, which right now encompasses a lot of cutting-edge legal issues, so I sincerely thank them.

Council on the Profession
Co-Chaired by: Matthew Diller and Melissa Colon-Bosolet

The Council on the Profession was the first committee with which I worked closely coming out of the proverbial gate as President of this organization. Confronted head-on with pandemic issues concerning  the safety and education of law school students in academic settings, how the bar exam should be administered in New York State, and other issues.  This wonderful group assisted me in putting together a panel of our law school deans to discuss such issues.  And whenever I asked Melissa and Dean Diller for assistance as a newbie President, they delivered.  And I thank them.

Criminal Courts Committee
Chaired by: Terri Rosenblatt

Terri and her committee were available on a near-daily basis as we were first beginning to understand and respond to the enormity of the COVID crisis and its implications for vulnerable populations. Along with other committees in the Criminal and Corrections cluster, they wrote multiple letters urging that people in prison be given consideration for release and that vaccinations be prioritized for the safety of everyone in the prisons, including those working there. They later urged vaccine priority for lawyers, and support staff who must meet with clients in jails, prisons and other detention facilities.

Moreover, last summer Terri and her committee heard and responded to my cry to convene a second panel on police reform focusing in on our beloved State and City, and served as lead author of the accompanying report and recommendations, which I so very much appreciated.

Education & the Law Committee
Co-Chaired by:  Jarienn James and Evan Rosenberg 

As the first woman of color President of the New York City Bar Association in its 150-year existence, I felt compelled to do something special and significant to pay homage to a demographic to which I belong and a demographic which in my opinion is too often marginalized.  Thus, I embarked on a mission to have a Presidential Series, Raising the Bar of Hope — to focus on Black women and girls.  I decided to first focus on the over-policing of black girls in the public school system.  I shared the idea with Jarienn and Evan, and they graciously and successfully brought it to fruition.  And for that I will forever be grateful.