The Six Pillars of New York City Bar Association President Sheila S. Boston

When Sheila S. Boston became the New York City Bar Association’s 69th President at the Association’s annual meeting on May 19, 2020, she announced six priorities — or “pillars” — on which she would like the  City Bar to focus: COVID-19 Recovery; Access to Justice; Criminal Justice Reform; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Protection of the Rule of Law; and Mental Health and Wellness. Following are select highlights of the City Bar’s work in each area during President Boston’s term.

The 44th Street Notes special issue on the “Launch of the Six Pillars” is here.

COVID-19 Recovery

“I had been formulating the priorities on which I thought the City Bar should focus during my term, and of course COVID-19 Recovery Projects would now top the list. Without them none of the other initiatives would be possible.”

Access to Justice

“As lawyers lined up to volunteer at the City Bar after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy, they are logging in to respond to the pandemic.”

Criminal Justice Reform

“I knew it would be one of my priorities from the moment I was nominated to be the City Bar’s next President….When George Floyd was killed before the world six days later, I felt anything but prescient. It came in the wake of Breonna Taylor in March, and Ahmaud Arbery in February, and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice in 2014, and Amadou Diallo in 1999, and there are too many names to say here.”

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“These priorities I am outlining all blend into one another –- Access to Justice into Criminal Justice Reform, into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion….After all, can there be equity in society if we lack diversity among those who make the wheels of justice turn?”

Protection of the Rule of Law

“As a nonpartisan organization with members from across the United States and around the world, and across the political spectrum, we don’t criticize our elected and appointed officials lightly. To do so is inevitably to be accused of partisanship in some quarters. However, when the rule of law is threatened, the Constitution and the principles upon which our nation was founded –- including that no person is above the law –- are threatened, and it is our duty as officers of the court to take a stand. We owe no less to the founders of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, among whose first efforts was to confront corruption in the justice system.”

Mental Health and Wellness

“We need to prioritize Mental Health and Wellness. This was true before the pandemic, and it’s doubly true now in the midst of it. As with COVID-19 recovery efforts, without it –- without ensuring our own health and wellness –- nothing else is possible. That’s why during every public appearance I plead for all of us to take mental health and wellness seriously.”