summer 2021

44th Street Notes – Summer 2021

New York
Our Way
City skyscrapers
Summer 2021
Sheila S. Boston headshot
BY Sheila S. Boston

Good Work!

Excerpt from the Remarks of New York City Bar Association President Sheila S. Boston at the 2021 Annual Meeting in May
I don’t know about you, but I never in a million years could have imagined what the past year would have been like. In my opinion, it’s been crazy, and often a dark period, quite frankly, in American history, full of uncertainties, pain, agony, hatred, division, ignorance, and even confusion. And because of everything that has happened, I felt that I was in a very important and, quite frankly, spiritual and existential moment, if you will, as I served on this platform as the President of this prestigious and august body known as the New York City Bar Association. I have tried to summon everything within me, and I tried to summon everything within all of you to help us survive – not just survive, actually, to thrive; and not to succumb to the madness, but instead to propel ourselves above and beyond it; not to try to do things with a phony business-as-usual attitude, but instead to try to be innovative and think outside of the box; not to suffer in silence, but instead to speak truth to power; to not give in to despair, but instead to deign to hope.
Stephen L. Kass Holding Award

Bar of Hope Presidential Awards

At the City Bar’s Annual Meeting in May, 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:

Stephen L. Kass Holding Award
Bret Parker headshot

Back to the House

As I sit here at my dining room table in shorts and a t-shirt, I’m grateful to have a day set aside for no meetings, conference calls, or Zoom meetings — a day to do some quiet, uninterrupted, contemplative work (such as writing this column). And earlier this week, I was also happy to be among people at the New York City Bar Association on 44th Street, where I caught up with some colleagues (some of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year) in hallway conversations and over lunch at the Red Flame Diner.

Like many of you, I’ve experienced the pros and cons of remote work. On a positive note, there’s less stress and more productivity without the burden of a daily commute. On a negative note, I feel a bit overscheduled. It’s good to have flexibility to take breaks more easily when working from home, but it’s also too easy for work to intrude on home life. In-person networking and social events of course are better than remote ones, although I attended our virtual scavenger hunt, met a few people I didn’t know, and had a great time being distracted during the early pandemic. And it’s been interesting to experience the different nuances among the cell phone, the remote office phone, the Zoom meeting, and the audio-only conference call when we prefer to be off-camera.

Save the Date for the Annual Small Law Firm Symposium!

Save the date for the 18th Annual Small Law Firm Symposium on November 11, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., followed by a Reception from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The 18th Annual Small Law Firm Symposium will take place on November 11, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., followed by a Reception from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. This full-day conference is geared towards solo and small-firm practitioners who wish to gain valuable practice management information whether they are starting out on their own or been in business for decades. The full day of workshops includes Marketing Planning; Basics of Accounting and Bookkeeping; Top Technology Tools; Challenges of a Small Firm Practitioner Providing General Counsel Services; Using Social Media to Build your Brand; Assessing COVID-Driven Behavior Changes for Long-Term Success; Using Modern Communication Principles for Success and Problem Solving; and much more. Practitioners can earn up to 4 CLE credits. Once again the exhibit hall will showcase vendors with the latest legal products. There will be ample time to network with other solo and small-firm practitioners. This year’s program is currently planned as a hybrid in-person/virtual event. The fee for the Symposium is offered at a low cost of $50 for Members until September 30.
We asked members to give us their thoughts on what the City Bar means to them, and to share their most memorable experiences at the Association. Watch Jaipat Jain, Sandra Park, Jeh Johnson, Brian Farkas, Judge Tanya R. Kennedy, David McCraw, Muhammad Faridi, Katherine Greenberg, Chris Wlach, Katiuska Moure, Omar Youssef, Michael Solender, and Devika Kewalramani.
Michele Natal, Co-Chair of the City Bar’s Recruitment & Retention of Lawyers Committee and an attorney at Mayer Brown, speaks with Muhammad Faridi, her Committee Co-Chair and a Partner at Patterson Belknap, and James A. Lewis, V, the new Executive Director of the City Bar’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, about how the Diversity Fellows program has helped them and others make their way in the legal profession.
Michele Natal Headshot
Muhammad Faridi
James A. Lewis Headshot
two bottles and a glass of wine while on a Zoom call

Lawyers Connect Despite Pandemic

Despite a virtual networking environment the past year, the New York City Bar Association’s Lawyers Connect programs did not slow down.

Members enjoyed a variety of engaging remote opportunities, including a virtual scavenger hunt across Manhattan, a highly competitive trivia night, and most recently, a summer wine tasting with Happy Cork (a popular, female-and-minority-owned wine and spirits shop in Brooklyn).

A Year of Challenges and Gifts

By Eileen Travis, Executive Director, Lawyer Assistance Program
Living through the pandemic has challenged us in ways we never would have anticipated. For most, it was losing everything that was familiar and having to adapt to a whole new routine. Experiencing feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, fear, isolation, grief, and loss, as well as self-medicating with food, alcohol, and other substances became the new normal.

Adjusting to working remotely was easy for some, difficult for others. Establishing boundaries between work and life was a daunting task. Some did it well, while others found themselves working harder and longer. Families living and working in cramped quarters – often with children attending virtual classes – encountered additional hurdles. Difficulty concentrating and focusing on work or school was prevalent among lawyers and law students.

The New York State Legislature wrapped up its session in June, closing out another extremely busy year of legislative work. The City Bar’s active policy and advocacy component is driven and guided by the work of our committees, and we are pleased to report that, as of today, over 20 bills supported by the City Bar have passed both houses, covering issues of: criminal justice reform, nonprofit law, state court litigation, animal welfare, consumer protection, health and substance use, family law, agreements governed by LIBOR, and the enforcement of foreign money judgments. A number of these bills have already been signed into law by the Governor, but the majority will need to be further advocated in the coming months to ensure they are enacted. A list of bills supported by our committees that passed the Legislature can be found here.

Policy Podcast

City Bar Senior Policy Counsel Maria Cilenti, Director of Advocacy Elizabeth Kocienda, and Policy Counsel Mary Margulis-Ohnuma discuss how they work with the Association’s 150-plus committees to take and advocate positions on a wide range of local, national, and international issues; how they’ve adapted their work during the pandemic; and some of the issues addressed in recent months.
Kurt M. Denk headshot

Reflections on Justice

Q&A with New City Bar Justice Center Executive Director Kurt M. Denk

You were the City Bar Justice Center’s Pro Bono Counsel for three years, before succeeding Lynn Kelly in March as Executive Director. Let’s start there: tell us about how you ended up at the Justice Center, your experience working with Lynn and the Justice Center staff, and how it helped prepare you for your new role.

Law is a second career for me, but I’ve always been committed to service with and for others, and over the years have had the privilege of doing everything from teaching at the undergraduate and law school levels, to working as a prison chaplain, to doing a substantial amount of pro bono work as a litigation associate at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. I actually enjoyed being at a firm more than I would have imagined prior to devoting six years of my career to that work, but certainly did know that I wanted to return to public interest and service-oriented work. I also knew from sufficient enough life experience by the time I made the move from Kramer Levin, that it was important to wait for the right move.

The City Bar's New Lawyers Institute (NLI) offers 60-Minute Mentoring

60-Minute Mentoring

The City Bar’s New Lawyers Institute (NLI) offers 60-Minute Mentoring, which pairs recent law graduates with experienced lawyers for one hour to provide practical legal and practice management skills as well as guidance about overall career development. This program is an excellent opportunity for new lawyers to network, build relationships, and seek advice from those who have gone through their career development challenges and decisions.

Although all the mentoring sessions were virtual, this year the program had over 100 mentee sign-ups, double the number from last year, and over 80 mentor sign-ups. Overall the program matched 125 new law graduates with experienced attorneys. A huge thank you to all of the volunteer mentors.

The 60-minute mentoring program is part of the New Lawyer Institute’s curriculum. For more information please visit the NLI page.

Corruption Persists in Latin America Due to Lack of Political Will and Institutional Independence

By Jaime Chávez Alor
Latin America Policy Director
Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice

Corruption Persists in Latin America Due to Lack of Political Will and Institutional Independence

By Jaime Chávez Alor
Latin America Policy Director
Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
Lack of political will and inadequate independence of judges and prosecutors pose the main challenges to implementing anticorruption policies in Latin America, according to a report by the Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. The recently published “Latin America Anticorruption Assessment 2020,” available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, delineates legal efforts and shortcomings to preventing and redressing corruption in eight countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.

Member Moves and News in the Pandemic

Many City Bar members were busy as ever during the pandemic. Following is a list of moves and news we collected over the past year or so, as well as a few expanded accounts on what folks were up to.
Maia Goodell headshot
Maia Goodell
As a longtime City Bar member, I valued the Association’s resources when I launched my own civil rights practice last year in employment and disability rights. As it turned out, that was just weeks before the pandemic hit. It has been exciting to team up with great colleagues at a small firm, and also fantastic to have the Small Law Firm Center and committee colleagues during the upheaval of the past year, both in law practice and in our world.

Eric Friedman


Eli Cohen


Carrie Chatterson Studio


Arlene Bein 212.382.6685


Bret Parker


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Thanks for reading our Summer 2021 Edition!