Letter from the President of The New York County Lawyers' Association

2014-11-19 12:37

Have you read the newspaper today? Yesterday? The day before? People around the world and here in New York are finding themselves defenseless in the face of institutional dictates and prerogatives. Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. But it is reality. And reality is that equal rights are as jeopardized today as ever before.

When NYCLA was founded in 1908, equal rights were still far and few in between. The Association was a pioneer in the sense that it was the first major bar association in the country to admit members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender. From the beginning, NYCLA has played a major role in legal system reforms. In recent years, NYCLA Task Forces and Committees have issued reports, promoted diversity statements and produced forums highlighting issues related to diversity and legal rights.

NYCLA’s Hon. Harold Baer Jr. and Dr. Suzanne Baer Minority Judicial Internship Program is an example of this. It provides stipends to first- and second-year law students of color who are placed as interns with federal and state court judges. In fact, recently I had the pleasure of attending the Committee on Minorities and the Law’s kick-off reception for the program. Established in 1989, it has been an integral part of NYCLA’s mission to increase diversity in the legal profession.

Other groups here at NYCLA that are working to increase diversity and equal rights include the Task Force to Increase Diversity in the Legal Profession; Minorities and the Law Committee; Task Force on Same-Sex Marriage; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Committee; and Women’s Rights Committee.

Several committee members have written fascinating articles in the November issue of the New York County Lawyer about groups still seeking full legal rights. There are several highlights including pieces on increasing restrictions to abortion care and an overview of the female prison population, which you’ll find on the cover, authored by our Women’s Rights Committee co-chairs. Meanwhile, insights on prenuptial agreements are covered along with an article on an emerging issue, transgender employment discrimination. I think you will find these articles insightful and thought-provoking and encourage you to read them at nycla.org.


Lew Tesser