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Dear YLS Member:
I am pleased to present to you the October issue of Electronically In Touch. In this issue, you will find:
• Exciting Initiatives from YLS Mentoring
Editor’s Report: Young Lawyers Section Fall meeting*
It seems that events unexpected make life worth living. As I returned from the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) meeting in Albany, that was the sentiment that resonated in my head.
I certainly expected the line-up of CLE speakers as listed in the published program. I also expected to walk away from those programs with the accompanying printed materials and few new acquaintances. As a first time attendee at a YLS meeting, that was about all I expected.
The doors to the New York State Bar Center at One Elk Street, are situated along a row of entrances characteristic of a Brooklyn brownstone, and that entrance did not appear to me to be terribly impressive. The long hallway from the foyer that ended at the reception desk was adorned with portraits of past NYSBA presidents, pretty standard, I noted. However, at the end of the hall, I encountered the unexpected. The building opened up into a multi-tiered wide open space called the Great Hall. The Hall had an intriguing design with decorating to match. As an admirer of architecture, I looked around for few minutes from the balcony overlooking the hall. I then walked through the halls of the rest of the building that was many times the size one would anticipate from the street. I subsequently discovered that the building had won design awards and was home to an impressive art collection. At the very least I knew that my bar association had a very nice house.
The grandeur of the building soon faded into the background and the real purpose of my visit to Albany came to occupy my mind; to put some faces with the names attached to so many emails and voices. While the meeting offered a number of CLE credits, I could easily find those right in my hometown and the local NYSBA sponsored events and materials have proved to be very useful. As the editor of this publication, I communicate regularly with the Chair of the YLS, Justina, our section liaison to the “Big Bar,” Megan O’Toole, and members who submit articles. The meeting was the perfect place to get acquainted.
I soon confirmed what I had suspected about our section Chair. Justina seemed to me to typify what a one would hope for in a leader of intelligent and independent people. She appeared to have boundless energy that she presented with a confident, intelligent and charismatic style. Impressive, I thought.
Our section functions through the efforts of the staff of NYSBA and Megan O’Toole is our connection to that enduring structure of NYSBA. I spent some talking with Megan to get gain an understanding of the structure and function of NYSBA. She was very knowledgeable and easily answered every question that I asked. More importantly for me was that she was friendly and engaging beyond expectation. After a short time, Megan and I spoke as friends would, without the superficial formality you might expect of a conversation between a liaison and member of the section.
It seemed as though, everyone at One Elk Street had captured the balance between expertise in their profession and a passion and flair for living. Another example, just before I left the meeting, I met Michael Rakower, the organizer of the event and the recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. Michael and I are both solo practitioners and the common career choice garnered instant affinity. Within minutes of meeting, Michael and I had exchanged cards and he invited me to lunch the next time I was in the City. About a week or so after the meeting, an envelope from the Law Office of Micheal C. Rakower arrived at my office. When I had met Michael at the meeting I had joked “I’ve always wanted to meet an outstanding lawyer.” The enveloped contained a signed copy of a booklet that accompanied his award with an inscription wishing me luck. That was unexpected.
I would like to thank Justina, Michael, Megan and all the members of the YLS and NYSBA staff for making membership in the YLS such a pleasant surprise. To view photos of the YLS Fall Meeting, visit www.nysba.org/ylsphotos.
As always, I encourage you to submit any idea you may have including, a summary of a recent decision, statute, legal issue, or book review, or a procedural change in practice, etc. If you are interested in sharing your ideas, advice, tips, and/or content submissions, please send them to us at email@example.com or to Seth at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the newsletter. Electronically In-Touch is a monthly publication, the deadline for submissions is the 10th of the month, for inclusion in that month’s issue but your submissions and ideas are welcome anytime for later publication.
We hope that you enjoy the October issue and look forward to staying In Touch...
(1) Revamping the
YLS Mentor Directory and making the program more user-friendly. For
information about this program, look at the YLS page on www.nysba.org;
Looking forward to
an exciting year!
The Young Lawyers
Section each year honors a young lawyer who has rendered outstanding
service to both the community and legal profession. The Outstanding
Young Lawyer Award recognizes an attorney who has actively practiced
less than 10 years, or is under 37 years old, and has a distinguished
record of commitment to the finest traditions of the Bar through public
service and professional activities.
I just finished reading a lovely little business book that brilliantly encapsulated my approach to business and to life—The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness, by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, the CEO and President, respectively, of The Kaplan Thaler Group, the advertising agency behind those memorable, quirky AFLAC duck ads.
Up until college, I assumed that nice was the norm, and that everyone thought (like me) they’d go places in life by doing their best work and by being “nice”; i.e., treating people with respect. At Old Ivy, there were some people who were power-hungry, duplicitous backstabbers, and worse, they seemed to get what they wanted, though garnering many enemies. It was a shock to me, and shock that many of us will meet at some point in our lives.
Being mean isn’t my thing, so I’ve kept to my game plan of working hard, and being nice. Winning on “their” terms just wasn’t appealing.
Thaler and Koval, in their book, persuasively argue that you can be nice AND be a winner. The Power of Nice details six “nice principles” illustrating how being nice can lead to business success.
(1) Positive impressions are like seeds? People will have a positive impression of you when you are nice. They will speak about you in positive terms to their friends. Over time, people will come to you with business opportunities, because they have heard great things about you.
(2) You never know? The person you share a cab with at rush hour could be the general counsel of the company you’re pitching that afternoon. You never know. Sometimes, your indiscriminate niceness will pay off, and vice versa. If you’re indiscriminately self-centered, you could end up closing the elevator doors on an important client.
(3) People change? Just because someone works for you today, it doesn’t mean you won’t be looking for their business tomorrow. If you were a jerk until they made it big, you can bet they’ll remember.
(4) Nice must be automatic? Niceness is a character trait, it’s not a skill to be turned on and off at will. If you fake niceness, everyone will be able to tell you’re a fake.
(5) Negative impressions are like germs? In some ways, this principle is the inverse of principle (1). If you’ve ever worked with someone who is a complainer, you’ll understand how quickly a negative attitude is transferred throughout an office.
(6) You will know? Being nice to others feels good, just like the excitement and joy you feel when giving a gift. When you’re a nice person, you will enjoy life—and work—more.
In the book, Thaler and Kovar go into these principles in greater detail, and outline strategies for learning to implement these principles.
What does this mean for you? For me, at least, embracing the power of nice was a big relief. It meant that I didn’t have to worry that I was doing something wrong by not choosing to scheme and plot about how to get ahead of my peers, and maybe, that I was doing something right. And as a lawyer who works at what is generally considered a “nice” firm, I can attest that niceness makes the workplace a much, well, nicer place to be, no pun intended.
Niceness is, at its core, treating people with respect and being sensitive to their needs. Those of you who are naturally empathic, and good at putting yourselves in other peoples’ shoes, should very easily be able to implement the power of nice in your lives. For some others, it might take some practice. Either way, consider embracing the power of nice in your lives.
On November 1st,
a new state law will take effect, providing consumers with a timely and
important tool to protect against identity theft.
With the protections afforded
to the consumer under the new law, however, there are a number of
potential inconveniences for individuals to consider. An
active "freeze" or "lock" on a credit file will likely delay, interfere
with or prohibit the timely approval of a consumer's application for a
new loan, a line of credit, a mortgage, insurance, rental housing,
employment, investments, licenses, cellular phone services, utility
hook-ups, Internet credit card transactions, or other services.
Westchester County Dep't of Consumer Protection, New Credit
Report "Security Freeze" Law Takes effect on November 1st: Security
Freeze Offers Important Protection Against Identity Theft, But Beware of
Potential Inconveniences, www.westchestergov.com/consumer/ID%20THEFT/securityfreeze.doc.
Consumers will have to plan ahead for a variety of situations in
which they will need to access their own credit history, as they will
need to contact the three credit reporting bureaus to "thaw" the freeze
and authorize access and release of their personal and financial
The following is a summary of the new law in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) format, and includes sample form letters that can be sent to activate a freeze as well as contact information for the three credit reporting agencies.
How is the freeze activated?
By sending a letter certified mail through the U.S. Postal Service or via an overnight delivery service to each of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), including personal identifying information such as complete name, address, date of birth and social security number. Each of the credit reporting agencies has different identification requirements. See the following sample letters prepared by the NYS Consumer Protection Board:
When will the freeze take effect?
The three credit reporting agencies must place the freeze on a consumer's credit file within five (5) business days of receiving a request. [Note: within four (4) days of receipt as of January 1, 2008, and within three (3) days of receipt as of January 1, 2009].
How long does the freeze last?
Until it is removed.
Will written confirmation of the freeze be sent?
Yes. Within ten (10) days of the freeze, each of the credit reporting agencies must send written confirmation and a unique personal identification number or password to be used when providing authorization for the release of the credit report to a specific party or for a specific period of time. Each credit reporting agency will issue a different password or identification number.
Does placing a freeze affect a credit score?
No. Placing a freeze has no effect on a consumer's credit score.
Is a freeze only available to victims of identity theft?
No. However, there may be a fee for non-victims (see below).
Is there a fee associated with placing a freeze?
There are no fees associated with placing a first freeze, and victims of identity theft who are able to provide a valid copy of a police report or a Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Affidavit, alleging the crime of identity theft, do not have to pay a fee to activate a freeze. There is a $5 fee for a second freeze and for each subsequent freeze placed by non-victims.
How is a freeze temporarily lifted or permanently removed?
By contacting each of the credit reporting agencies by certified mail through the U.S. Postal Service, via mail through an overnight delivery service, or by such other methods (telephone or Internet) that may be adopted by the agencies. Consumers must indicate whether they are authorizing the release of information to a specific party or for a specific period of time to all requestors. Consumers must provide proper identification and the unique personal identification number or password that you were issued upon placing the freeze when making this request.
How soon will a freeze be removed?
Within three (3) business days of receipt of your request for removal.
Is there a
fee to remove a freeze?
Does a freeze cover every one in the household?
No. Each person in a household must request a freeze by separate letters along with proper identification and payment, if applicable.
What is the contact information for the three credit reporting agencies?
One final note, "[e]ven after a freeze has been placed, a consumer’s credit report can be provided to law enforcement agencies, credit data-collection companies and affiliates of existing creditors. A frozen report can also be released under a court order."
The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) National Mentoring Program was created to address the needs of aspiring Hispanic law students and new lawyers for mentors. The Mentoring Program is a formal system through which Hispanic students at all stages in their education and new attorneys will have the access and opportunity to communicate and learn from HNBA members. Law school students will be paired with a practicing attorney-mentor for guidance, information and networking opportunities for professional development. Additionally, college and high schools students will be paired with college students and law students to expose them to the legal profession and provide guidance and support on the road to college law school. Law Students and College students assigned an attorney mentor are expected to serve as a mentor for a college student or high school student. There will be events throughout the year planned by the Mentoring committee that mentors and mentees are expected to attend. In addition, we hope that mentors and mentees will communicate at least once a month.
The Mentoring Program will be overseen by the HNBA National Mentor Committee. The Mentoring Committee will work as a liaison between the HNBA National Board of Governors and various Regional HNBA Committees throughout the country to implement the program on a local level. The Mentoring Committee and the Regional Committees will supervise the Mentor/Mentee relationships by facilitating contact between the program participants and providing substantive assistance to mentors as an information resource. The Mentoring Committee will periodically report its efforts to the HNBA Board of Governors.
This model provides several benefits. First, it offers mentors the opportunity to contribute, and mentees the benefit of a mentorship, at every level in the pipeline whether it be high school, college, law school or the first steps of a legal career. Second, the model provides a central unit – the Mentoring Committee – that will function as a facilitator and coordinator of activities and a clearinghouse of information of ideas and best practices for mentoring.
As part of this year’s HNBA Annual Convention in August, the HNBA National Mentoring Program was launched with students and attorneys in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you would like more information on the New York Region mentoring program, have any questions or would like an application, please contact Natacha Carbajal – email@example.com or Jessica Ortiz – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Honorable Randolph Treece '76, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of New York, emphasized the need for patience to develop a fulfilling and life-long legal career.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares '99 spoke about managing the politics of a legal practice, whether those politics exist inside a law firm or company, or in the pursuit of elected office.
Gaspar Castillo '80, a private criminal defense attorney, spoke candidly about being oneself while practicing law. Lobbyist Sandra Rivera '02 spoke about the importance of career focus and flexibility in practice opportunities.
Lydia Law, an associate at Friedman and Molinsek, a Delmar, N.Y. firm, talked about balancing family and practice, as well as positioning one's career for a move from public interest law to private practice.
William Little, an associate at the Albany-based Carter Conboy Case Blackmore Maloney & Laird, spoke to students about the importance of identifying mentors and working hard when opportunities arise.
To address in-house counsel demands—both positive and negative—Enrique Abarca, Intermagnetics General Corp., told students about his experiences.
Lillian Moy, Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, spoke to students about taking advantage of diverse practice opportunities.
Moderated by John Higgins '89, an attorney at Nixon Peabody, the event was presented by the Albany Law School Black Law Students Association, the Latin American Law Students Association, the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Minorities in the Profession, the Committee on Diversity and Leadership Development, the Young Lawyers Section, and Nixon Peabody LLP.
June 3-4, 2007
*This column is not intended to be construed as legal advice that can be relied on or considered authoritative in any particular case nor should the reader infer any such intent from any particular phrase or construction employed by the style used to present the material.
** Ms. Bost Seaton is a third year associate in the complex litigation and labor & employment practice groups at Troutman Sanders LLP in Manhattan, where she is constantly trying to “play rainmaker”. She is the co-author of Say Ciao to Chow Mein: Conquering Career Burnout, which was released this month and is available on www.cordellparvin.com and at bookstores.
*** This article was reprinted with permission of Albany Law School's Communications Department, Office of Institutional Advancement.
Law, 2006 N.Y. Laws ch. 63.
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