Schraver looking forward to new role as he becomes State Bar’s president-elect
By Mark Mahoney
David Schraver enjoys a good challenge, whether it be negotiating a settlement for a client in a courtroom or negotiating a stretch of whitewater rapids in a canoe.
"I think that one of the things I enjoy about being a lawyer is to try to figure out how I can help my clients solve their problems, whatever they may be," he said. "By and large, the people I deal with have problems or disputes, and my role is to try to help them to resolve them as best we can and as efficiently as we can."Schraver, an Albany native and a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP in Rochester, will be facing a whole new set of challenges when he becomes president-elect of the 77,000-member State Bar in June. He will become its 116th president in 2013.
A civil and corporate attorney
"I think continuity is important," he said. "I don’t think the program of the Bar Association should change every year with a new president. I think it’s important for us to follow through on important issues that require continued attention."
Among those issues, he said, is ensuring that courts are adequately funded. Another important role, he stressed, is making sure the association continues to serve its members well.
"Lawyers are under great pressure to do more with less, as are courts, and we need to try to help them to have the tools they need to serve clients in an affordable way."
He expects the State Bar to continue to invest in technology that helps communicate its activities and benefits to members, and deliver CLE programs in a flexible and convenient manner.
"I think it’s a gradual process of transitioning the way we do things, for example continuing to make availablehard copies of educational materials as well as delivering them electronically," he said.
A member of the Finance Committee since 2003 and its chairman since 2007, Schraver said the association weathered the recession well and is in a strong position to move forward.
He is grateful that since becoming president-elect-designee, many attorneys have offered to help. He plans to take them up on their offers.
Schraver and members of his firm have successfully litigated on behalf of local county governments on issues of concern to American Indian tribes on numerous occasions.
Late last year, Nixon Peabody received a favorable decision in U.S. Supreme Court in Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. Madison County, which focused on whether tribal sovereign immunity bars foreclosure when an Indian tribe refuses to pay property taxes that have been lawfully assessed on property that long ago was given up and recently purchased by the tribe.
In a recent issue of the Albany Law Review, Schraver and David H. Tennant, a Nixon Peabody and State Bar colleague, wrote a 45-page article explaining key issues of Indian Law, particularly sovereignty issues, from the colonial period to the present.
"The question of Indian tribal sovereignty is a complicated issue," he said. "The tribes have a very different view of their sovereignty than the courts have had, and the courts have referred to the tribes as quasi-sovereign or semi-sovereign. But there are certainly limits on Indian tribal sovereignty."
Not all business
Schraver graduated cum laude from Harvard University and magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was note and comment editor for the Michigan Law Review.
Most of his travel to his hometown of Albany these days is for State Bar-related activities. During those visits, he sometimes takes early morning walks along the Hudson River or through the neighborhood where he grew up.
Despite all his professional activities, Schraver said he does manage to get away from it all once in a while. Growing up close to the Adirondacks gave him a lifelong love of the outdoors, particularly hiking, skiing and canoeing. He shares with his family a small camp on the Great Sacandaga Lake and enjoys spending time in the Bristol Hills south of Rochester.
"I’ve climbed a few of the (Adirondack) High Peaks and hiked in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes. I’ve done a lot of canoeing, including the Fulton chain of lakes," he said. "I’ve also done some whitewater canoeing in Maine in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and a fair amount of whitewater rafting over the years."
His experience facing and conquering challenges, gained from many years as a lawyer and outdoorsman, will serve him well as he assumes a greater leadership role with the State Bar over the next two years.
Mahoney is NYSBA’S Associate Director of Media Services.