STEPHEN P. YOUNGER TAKES OFFICE AS PRESIDENT OF THE
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Sees Opportunity To Help Shape The Future Of The
(Albany, New York, June 1, 2010) At a time when the legal
profession is facing myriad challenges – from young lawyers out of
work, to experienced lawyers coping with new technologies, to law firms
under billing pressures – Stephen P. Younger, a partner at
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, took office today as the 113th
President of the New York State Bar Association.
Younger said, “Every crisis presents opportunities and I see an
opportunity now to help shape the future of our profession. This
will be the central goal of my term.”
“What do we want the practice of law to be like for the next
generation of lawyers? How can we serve our clients better? How
can we as lawyers help build confidence in our public institutions,
including courts and other branches of government? Trust in those
institutions is essential if the rule of law is going to continue to
“We owe it to the great lawyers who have come before us –
those who have served as mentors to me and many others – to be
good stewards of our profession and to make sure that it remains a
profession of which those great role models would be proud.”
Future of the Legal Profession
Younger said that he would appoint a new Task Force to explore the
major shifts that have taken place in our society and our profession,
their interrelation with the practice of law, and how to address these
Among the issues the Task Force will consider are:
- How to better train young lawyers.
- How the legal profession will continue to attract the best and
brightest as technology places increased pressure on work/life
- How billing practices can be improved. The Task Force will
examine the emphasis on billing for quantity of hours worked, rather
than the quality of results, and what suitable alternative billing
systems would look like.
- How technology is likely to change the law office of the future,
what new developments are coming down the road, and how the profession
is going to deal with them.
Law School Initiative
Younger said that he had asked outgoing President Michael Getnick to
spearhead a program through which law students would be matched up with
sections of the Bar Association. This initiative would result in
law students working side by side with experienced members of the
Association’s sections, providing the students with substantive
experience in researching and writing reports, as well as the ability to
form relationships with leaders in the legal profession.
As part of this effort, Younger said he also would reach out to law
school deans around the state and begin a conversation about the future
of legal education. “Law schools also need to evolve,”
said Younger, “and we need to help them develop programs and
curricula that will prepare young people to be future
“As it stands now,” he continued, “new
graduates are not properly prepared to practice law, to deal with the
modern client, to draft a contract or to walk into a courtroom. There is
an expectation that their employers are going to train them. But
many of our clients are telling us that they don’t want young
associates working on their matters. This issue is critical to the
future of our profession, and it is obvious that we as a profession
– and that includes law schools – need to come to grips with
“Most of our citizens – and even many government
officials – think our state’s system of government is
broken,” Younger said. “We as lawyers have important
roles to play, not only by participating in government, but by helping
develop a framework to make government work better.”
Younger said he would appoint a Task Force on Government Ethics to
consider such issues as:
- New York State currently does not have its own anti-corruption
law. Jurisdiction for prosecuting government corruption cases is
unclear. What authority do local District Attorneys have?
What authority does the State Attorney General have?
- There are no comprehensive ethics laws for local government
- Lawyers need to be able to serve in public office and meet
ethical requirements for disclosure of income and clients - without
violating their ethical obligations to their clients.
Family Courts and Youth Courts
Younger also said that he would appoint a Task Force on the Family
Courts and a Special Committee on Youth Courts.
“The Family Courts are in crisis,” he said, “with
overcrowded dockets, insufficient numbers of judges and serious
delays.” He pointed to:
- A 20% increase in Family Court filings in the past 17 years
– and a record high number last year.
- A 30% increase in court filings related to family violence in
the past three years.
- A failure to increase the number of Family Court judges in New York
City over the past 20 years, despite a recommendation in 2007 by
then-Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye for 39 new judges and pending
legislation that would create 21 new judgeships.
Innovative Youth Court programs have been very effective in dealing
with truancy, school fighting, vandalism and other minor offenses.
They are community based and involve peers in the adjudicative
process. Young people whose offenses are resolved in the Youth
Court are much less likely to return to the criminal justice system than
those who are processed through the traditional court system.
There are currently 80 Youth Courts around the State, and Younger said a
new State Bar Committee would consider ways of promoting and expanding
A History of Service
Younger has been an active member of the State Bar for 27 years. He
has been President-Elect for the past year and chaired the
Association’s House of Delegates. Younger served as a
member-at-large of the Association’s Executive Committee during
2007-2009. He served as Chair of the State Bar’s Commercial and
Federal Litigation Section during 2005-2006. He is past chair of the
Section’s Securities Litigation Committee and its Pro Bono and
Public Interest Committee. He also chaired the State Bar’s
Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. He is a fellow of The New York
Bar Foundation and an active member of the Association’s Committee
on Membership, having chaired its recent Membership Challenge.
In addition to his State Bar activities, Younger is Counsel to the
New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination. He is a member of the
First Department Judicial Screening Committee and serves on the Advisory
Committee to the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme
Court. He served as Transition Director for New York Attorney General
Andrew M. Cuomo and was a member of the Transition Committee for New
York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance. He served as a member of
former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye’s Alternative Dispute Resolution
Younger is the third Patterson Belknap partner to serve as State Bar
President, following in the footsteps of Chauncey Belknap and Hon.
Robert P. Patterson, Jr.
As a commercial litigator at Patterson Belknap, a prominent New York
City law firm where he has worked since 1985, he has tried many cases in
federal and state court and before arbitration panels. He also
frequently argues appeals, particularly in the appellate courts of New
York. Based on his significant alternative dispute resolution
experience, he is often called on to serve as an arbitrator or mediator
in high-stakes matters.
Younger serves as a mediator for the United States District Court,
Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; Chair of the Executive
Committee of the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution; and Trustee of
the Historical Society of the New York State Courts. He is a member of
the Congress of Fellows for the Center for International Legal Studies
and the Advisory Committee of the Center for Financial Market
A trustee of Albany Law School, and past president of the law
school’s National Alumni Council, he is a frequent lecturer and
author in the fields of securities litigation, commercial arbitration
and international dispute resolution.
Younger graduated cum laude from Harvard University and earned his
J.D. magna cum laude from Albany Law School, where he was
Editor-in-Chief of the Albany Law Review.
# # #
Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is
the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the
largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State
Bar’s programs and activities have continuously served the public
and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more
information, visit us at our Web site at www.nysba.org.
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993