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.

And that is why, for my time as your 69th President, I have declared that the New York City Bar Association is the Bar of Hope. And I just want to thank each and every one of you not just for embracing a slogan but for actually embodying a principle, and working with me and City Bar Executive Director Bret Parker and all of our staff and affiliates to press on and do good work.

Good work, writing excellent educational reports and white papers. Good work, offering letters to legislative bodies and representatives with policy recommendations. Good work, developing and producing programming, whether CLEs, webinars or podcasts that help to educate and inspire our members and community. Good work, having virtual networking events just to connect us socially and lift our spirits. Good work, through our City Bar Fund serving as good stewards to raise money mobilizing New York City lawyers to do work for those in need and for the law profession at large. Good work, providing legal services for New Yorkers in need with the City Bar Justice Center. Good work, through the Vance Center for International Justice, recognizing and acting upon Martin Luther King Jr’s admonition that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Good work, through our Diversity and Inclusion office engaging in activities and programming, assisting law firms and corporations and adopting best practices to move the needle in our profession, so that historically underrepresented groups can meaningfully and equitably join and participate in our profession. Good work, through the Lawyers Assistance Program, helping our community to confront and deal with substance abuse and addictive behavior. Good work, through our Mindfulness and Well-Being Committee working to eradicate this idea that mental illness is a stigma, and developing wellness activities and skill sets to battle depression, anxiety, and burnout in our profession. Good work, taking very public and perhaps controversial stances in a principled way to speak truth to power and deliver a clarion call for adherence to and protection of the rule of law.

Watch President Boston’s full remarks