Letter From The President Of The Greater New York Chapter Of The Association Of Corporate Counsel

2012-08-17 13:13

To the Readers of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

As I near the end of my term as 2011-2012 President of the Greater New York Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (“ACC-GNY”), I take pause to reflect both upon the role of in-house counsel in the businesses we serve, as well as the role the ACC-GNY Chapter plays in ensuring the vibrant practice and professional development needs of our in-house members located in New York City and in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

First, a bit about ACC. The organization was founded 30 years ago by a core group of U.S. in-house practitioners who believed that a dedicated bar association was needed to address the unique practice needs of in-house counsel. ACC has grown over the past 30 years to over 30,000 members in 54 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Israel, China, Europe and Argentina. Each of ACC’s 54 chapters strives to deliver upon the core ACC mission in ways benefiting that chapter’s in-house constituency.

The more than 1,500 members of the ACC Greater New York Chapter enjoy a variety of services, each crafted with the in-house practitioner in mind. For instance, member-driven Practice and Affinity Groups help in-house counsel network, share best practices, and grow in their chosen fields of legal endeavor,  free of charge to our Members. Popular offerings include the Compliance and Ethics, Chief Legal Officer, IP, and Long Island Practice Groups. Our Members-In-Transition Affinity Group is especially vibrant, and we encourage ACC Greater New York area employers to Hire ACC-GNY First for their in-house staffing needs.  Many of our Practice and Affinity Groups hold purely social events throughout the year, again free of charge to members. Check out all your options at www.acc.com/chapters/gny/Member-Practice-Groups.cfm.

A key theme of our chapter in 2012 has been community engagementthe notion that we, as in-house counsel, exist not only as a community of attorneys sharing common practice needs and goals, but as attorneys engaged in the actual communities in which we live and work. To that end, in late January, ACC-GNY hosted a fun, non-traditional social that featured three terrific community organizations for our members and sponsors, presenting them with worthwhile volunteer opportunities designed to strengthen our communities. The groups included the following: Pencil (www.pencil.org, founded in 1995 with a mission to bring members of the business community together to strengthen and transform New York City’s public schools); Legal Outreach (www.legaloutreach.org, which through its Summer Law Institute and College Bound Programs has been helping underserved urban youth realize college and law school academic dreams since 1983); and Sanctuary for Families (www.sanctuaryforfamilies.org, created in 1984 with a mission to provide emergency housing and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence, and which today is the leading non-profit in New York State dedicated exclusively to victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking and their children).

Our Community Outreach Social was a rousing success. Despite horrid weather, over 115 Members, Sponsors, and invited guests attended, with tens of volunteer opportunities generated. Pencil reports that the evening was its most successful volunteer generator this year. ACC-GNY Board Member Reggie Rasch has led our chapter’s Community Outreach efforts, and they continue to expand. Please reach out to Reggie directly if you want to learn more about Community Outreach and to get involved.

ACC-GNY also continued a long tradition in 2012 of CLE programming dedicated to the needs of in-house counsel.  All of our CLE programs are included in the ACC membership fee and provide a networking and social component.  Thus far in 2012, our chapter has held over 30 CLE and/or Practice/Affinity Group events, attended by well over 1000 members and guests.  All of our main CLE and Practice/Affinity Group programs include in-house panelists — not just private practice attorneys — and we encourage all programs to be interactive with our members. Why? Because, as the premiere bar association dedicated to the needs of in-house counsel, we believe that by sharing best practices and knowledge with our peers, we become better lawyers to our in-house clients. It’s that simple.

Prominent among our 2012 Special Event offerings were two unique Ethics CLE programs. The first, It’s Not the Fruit, It’s the Root: Getting to the Root of Our Ethical Ills—Nice Attorneys Finish First, was held in March 2012 and presented by Sean Carter, a Harvard educated attorney who bills himself as a “humorist at law” and who uses the vehicle of satire/wit to delve into the serious dilemmas in-house counsel often face in day-to-day practice. We were pleased to work with Lighthouse International—a New York institution dedicated to fighting vision loss and serving the needs of the blind — to bring this event to ACC-GNY’s Members.  ACC-GNY’s fees served as a charitable donation to Lighthouse International, and the chapter hired Lighthouse clients as musicians for the event. Over 138 Members attended. The second event, The Legacy of Watergate: Ethics of Representing an Entity Under the Current Model Rules, was held in July 2012 and presented by John Dean — White House Counsel at the time of the Watergate break-in — and Jim Robenalt of Thompson Hine. John and Jim held the audience in rapt attention (both during the program as well as during our reception) as John’s Watergate experience was used to explore an attorney’s obligations under the professional rules of conduct. Our chapter was privileged to partner with The Museum of Jewish Heritage — created to honor the lives and memories of those who perished during the Holocaust — for the event.  Over 140 Members and Sponsors attended.

ACC-GNY is going to be very active this fall. Significantly, new chapter officers will be elected at our chapter’s Annual Meeting on October 10. While not yet elected, those nominated individuals are already undertaking major planning work to expand services and offerings. If you’re a current member or an in-house counsel considering joining, you’ll want to check out what we have coming at http://www.acc.com/chapters/gny.

We offer in-house counsel who are non-members the chance to learn more about the benefits of ACC membership by attending most ACC-GNY CLE programs for a nominal fee. And last but not least: we offer significant group membership discounts that make ACC Membership even more attractive to law departments. Contact Kathleen Yarborough, Executive Director, at execdir@accgny.com to schedule a meeting with one of our Board Members to discuss law department membership options.

It has been a privilege to serve as the Chapter’s President. On behalf of the entire ACC-GNY Board, we thank you for your support in 2011-2012 and look forward to working with you in 2012-2013 — and beyond.


Vince Castiglione