150th Anniversary Edition Winter 2020
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New York City Bar Winter 2020 Cover
150th Anniversary Edition
Roger Juan Maldonado headshot

If it be the supineness, the guilty silence of the lawyers, as officers of the people’s courts, which have brought us to our present pass, it is their reawakened public spirit and activity which must help us back to a better state of things.
— New York Times editorial, December 16, 1869
Founded five years after the Civil War in a New York City struggling with corruption, the New York City Bar Association is marking a century and a half of advocating reform of the law in the public interest, increasing access to justice, standing up for the rule of law, and being a second home to the legal profession.
Table of Contents
The New York City Bar Association will be marking its 150th anniversary throughout 2020. Visit www.nycbar.org/150 to explore a full timeline of the City Bar’s history, to see City Bar stories and submit your own, for information on events, and to support the Association.
A Select, Themed Timeline of the New York City Bar Association
I. The Justice System and Good Government

Born to counter corruption and support good government, the City Bar has never ceased its focus on its mission. Shortly after its founding, the City Bar launched its Judiciary Committee to evaluate candidates for election or appointment to judicial office and other offices connected with the administration of justice in state and federal courts in New York City. In 1871 and 1930, judges were indicted or removed following City Bar investigations. In 1873, the Association called for a constitutional amendment to return to judicial appointments instead of elections, and has supported the idea ever since. In 1955, the City Bar’s report “Bad Housekeeping” documented the poor administration of New York State courts, which is believed to have led to the creation of the Judicial Conference, headed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and charged with administering the courts in an efficient and responsible way. In 1988, the City Bar formed its Committee on Government Ethics. In 2019, the City Bar’s newly formed Task Force on the Rule of Law issued a statement calling on the Attorney General of the United States to recuse himself from the Department of Justice review of the Ukraine matter.

II. Defending Everyone to Defend Democracy
In 1954, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy denounced, in Newsweek, a City Bar member as a defender of Communists, the Association’s President, Bethuel M. Webster, responded in a letter to the editor that “the right to counsel requires public acceptance of the correlative right of a lawyer to represent and defend, in accordance with the standards of the bar, any client without having imputed to him his client’s reputation, views or character.” At the City Bar, it has always gone without saying that the right to a defense, and therefore to a lawyer, is sacrosanct.
III. Increasing Access to Justice
By Lynn M. Kelly
Executive Director, City Bar Justice Center
Prior to the 1970s, “pro bono” as a term was not in standard use in the legal profession. The Legal Aid Society had been set up in 1876 to assist German immigrants in New York, expanding in 1889 to serve all, and important legal work had been performed from time to time without compensation by lawyers, including members of the City Bar. In 1942, in what might now be seen as a prototype of the modern pro bono clinic, the “War Committee of the Bar of the City of New York,” supported by multiple bar associations and managed by the City Bar, was set up to provide free legal advice to men being inducted into the army.
Man and boy taking a walk
The City Bar Justice Center’s Fragomen Fellow accompanies a very young respondent to immigration court.
It was in the 1960s and 70s that the widespread notion began to take hold that providing pro bono legal services to the poor was an obligation of every lawyer. This shift in the legal profession paralleled the wider shifts in American culture, as younger members persuaded the leaders of their profession that equal access to justice required the systematic providing of legal services to those who couldn’t afford to pay for them.

These young City Bar members suggested “that the City Bar sponsor a public-interest law firm to be staffed with salaried attorneys and funded by levies drawn on the large firms,” and in 1976, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) was founded to “increase legal services to the poor through screening and channeling public law opportunities to participating large law firms.” Among its founders were three City Bar Presidents: Cyrus R. Vance, Sr. (1974-76), Adrian W. Dewind (1976-1978), and Francis T.P. Plimpton (1968-70).

IV. A Profession for All
By Deborah Martin Owens
Executive Director, Office for Diversity and Inclusion
In 1990, the New York City Bar Association elected its first Black President, Conrad Harper, and in 1994, its first woman President, Barbara Paul Robinson. In 2018, its first Latinx President, Roger Juan Maldonado, was elected, and in 2019, its first woman of color, Sheila S. Boston, was nominated to be President. The first thing a visitor sees upon entering the City Bar is a wall of photos of the 22 members of the Association’s Executive Committee, approximately half of whom are from minority groups and half of whom are women.

While these milestones are cause for pride and celebration as we mark the City Bar’s 150th anniversary, we should acknowledge that diversity is an area in which the City Bar was not a leader for much of its history.

V. A Global Voice for Justice
By Alexander Papachristou
Executive Director, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
The essence of the New York City Bar Association is engagement, and throughout its history its members have engaged with the issues of the day wherever they arise across the world. This activism in global causes has found expression in 18 committees dedicated to international issues and, since 2002, in the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice.
The Vance Center brings together the concerns and the practices of its eponymous former Association president and former U.S. Secretary of State, Cyrus R. Vance, Sr., and many other leaders and members of the Association: an active commitment to international human rights and the rule of law through pro bono collaboration of lawyers in private practice, civil society, and academia.
VI. Supporting the Profession, Embracing Social Issues
By Eileen Travis
Director, Lawyer Assistance Program
The New York City Bar Association’s engagement with the social issues of the day has been key to many of its programs, among them the Lawyer Assistance Program, which helps the legal community deal with mental health, substance use, personal, and professional issues.

In 1962, a City Bar report on “Mental Illness and Due Process” led directly to state legislation safeguarding the rights of mentally ill patients to be treated as a sick person first and a legal problem second. In 1986, the City Bar formed its Committee on Drugs & the Law, which in 1994 released its landmark report, “A Wiser Course: Ending Drug Prohibition,” describing unintended consequences of drug prohibition policy.

VII. They Were Here
In 1928, William Howard Taft, the former U.S. President, and Benjamin N. Cardozo, who would join the Supreme Court four years later, received Honorary Membership in the Association. (A City Bar rule states that one can only receive the honor in person.) In the following decades, other towering legal figures would visit the City Bar for the same purpose or to receive other Association honors, or to deliver Association lectures, including one named after Justice Cardozo, or, as in the case of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965, at the invitation of one of the Association’s committees.
City Bar Stories
Some members, former leaders, and friends shared with us their City Bar Stories and their thoughts on the City Bar and its Role – Past, Present and Future.



Bret Parker headshot

 The Creation of More Intimate Relations.

While it’s well known that the New York City Bar Association was formed to counter corruption, I’m struck that in its founding document – the 83-word “Call for Organization” – the first reason given for starting up the organization was “the creation of more intimate relations between its members than now exist.” The founders then added that forming the Association “would, at the same time, sustain the profession in its proper position in the community, and thereby enable it, in many ways, to promote the interests of the public….”
The Future of the City Bar:
Enhanced Technology & Strengthened Programs and Services
The New York City Bar Association remains committed to fulfilling its enduring mission – to be a thought leader in protecting the rule of law and to continue to serve the legal and public communities faithfully. In commemoration of its 150th anniversary, the City Bar has a bold vision: to strengthen this historic, respected, nonpartisan institution to meet the future needs of its membership and community in an ever-changing world.
Ways to Give
Join our campaign supporters by making a gift in support of the 150th Anniversary through the following ways. Some or all of your donation may be tax deductible. To donate, and to see donor levels and their corresponding benefits, visit nycbar.org/150/donate.
Pay by Check
Make your check payable to “City Bar Fund” and mail to:

City Bar Fund
c/o Development Department
42 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036

Gifts of stock, IRA funds, or donor advised funds
To make a stock gift or to give from a retirement account, please contact Tom Halter, Chief Administrative Officer at thalter@nycbar.org or (212) 382-6640. To make a grant through a donor advised fund, suggest the City Bar Fund (EIN 13-6003018) to the administrator of your charitable fund.
If you have any questions, please contact Christina Overton, Senior Development & Communications Manager, City Bar Fund, at coverton@nycbar.org or 212.382.4784.
All contributions to the City Bar Fund are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. A copy of our most recently filed financial report and information on other charitable organizations is available from the NY Attorney General’s Charities Registry (www.charitiesnys.com) or (212) 416-8686. The report is also available upon request by contacting the Fund at 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036.
150th anniversary donors
Thank you to the following donors for generously supporting our anniversary campaign at the Sponsor level and above as of January 15, 2020. Our online donor listing, which is updated regularly, can be viewed at nycbar.org/150/donors.
The City Bar’s 150 committees provide a great public service by helping shape law and public policy on some of the most important issues of the day on the local, state, national, and international levels. Our members also find that committee service offers opportunities to build your network, make friends, transform your career, and even change your life.

This spring, committee chairs will start nominating new members for a three-year term beginning in September. Committee membership is limited; the broader your scope of committee interest, the more likely you will be placed on a committee that is personally and professionally satisfying. Be sure to submit a resume along with your preferences. Committee terms are typically three years.

A committee meeting in session
For a list and description of committees and to apply online, please visit http://bit.ly/JoinACommittee
gold arrow pointing right

Business & Finance
Children & Family
Criminal Justice
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Environment & Transportation
Governmental Affairs
Health & Science
International Affairs
Justice System
Media, the Arts & Intellectual Property
Profession, Legal Education & Organization of the Bar
Public Service & Legal Services
Social Issues & Civil Rights
Tax & Trust Issues

The following candidates have been nominated for the City Bar’s various offices and committees. Those elected will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the City Bar on May 19, 2020.
Sheila S. Boston
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
David Arroyo
BuzzFeed Inc.
Joseph Drayton
Cooley LLP
Susan J. Kohlmann
Jenner & Block
Drexel B. Harris
Reliance Insurance
Thomas R. Slome
Cullen and Dykman LLP
Sarah J. Berger
New York State Unified Court System
Jaipat S. Jain
Lazare Potter Giacovas & Moyle LLP
Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy
New York State Unified Court System
Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto
U.S. District Court Judge for
the Eastern District of New York

Eric Friedman

Associate Editor

Eli Cohen

graphic designer

Arlene Mordjikian


Arlene Bein 212.382.6685

Executive Director

Bret I. Parker

44th Street NOTES is published three times a year by The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 W. 44th St., New York, NY 10036-6604.
Postmaster: Send address changes to 44th Street Notes, 42 W. 44th St., New York, NY 10036-6604. For subscription information, call 212.382.6656.

CITY Bar Members

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This publication is printed with vegetable-based, environmentally friendly inks on paper that is produced from renewable resources and is FSC-certified.


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