Contact: Brandon Vogel
Dept. of Media Services

February 1, 2008


The New York State Conference of Bar Leaders has announced the winners of its 2007 Awards of Merit for local bar associations. The awards honor local bars for their public service and innovative programming to enhance the public's understanding of the law.

Recipients will be honored at a breakfast during the New York State Bar Association's 131st Annual Meeting, Friday, February 1st at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

Awards are given in three member categories-small, medium and large bar associations in New York. They recognize outstanding programs sponsored by local, ethnic, specialty, minority and women's bar associations. The awards program also informs bar leaders of new activities and programs that promote public welfare, public understanding of the law, or attorneys' professional responsibilities.

"No other profession embodies a stronger commitment to public service than the legal profession and these programs - a few of several that competed for this year's merit awards - clearly illustrate the tremendous daily work that is being done by lawyers and bar associations to improve awareness, understanding and application of the law in our communities,"said attorney Forrest Strauss of White Plains, Chair of the Conference of Bar Leaders. "It's an honor to recognize the positive impact of these fine programs upon the service of the greater public good."

Awards will be presented to:

  • Capital District and Women's Bar Association & Capital Region Bankruptcy Bar Association(small bar association-fewer than 500 members) for jointly administering the Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program, established in November 2002 by Honorable John C. Ninfo, II. It is estimated that 75 percent of all college age students have at least one credit card and over 30 percent of all college students have four or more credit cards. Through the program, attorneys provide presentations educating high school students on safe credit card use and financial responsibility.
  • Albany County Bar Association(medium bar association-500-1,999 members) for sponsoring and promoting "Capital Region Bike Safety Day," where volunteers instructed children on how to safely ride their bikes and the importance of wearing a bike helmet. In the event of a crash, bike helmets reduce the risk of serious brain injury by 85 percent. At the event, 169 children received "free of charge" protective bike helmets and learned how to properly adjust their helmets for protection.
  • Bar Association of Erie County(large bar association-more than 2,000 members) for its Committee to Assist Lawyers with Depression. It is estimated that as many as 15,000 lawyers suffer depression-related problems in New York State. The committee initially began as a five-member support group and its membership has grown to 15 members since its inception in September 2007. The committee is planning a day-long CLE symposium on anxiety, burnout and depression to be held in April.

Formed in 1979, the New York State Conference of Bar Leaders provides a forum for the exchange of information among local bar leaders, as well as between the state bar and bar leaders.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.