November 20, 2008


ALBANY-The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association celebrated its 20th anniversary on November 18th honoring past section chairs for their service to the public, the judiciary and the legal profession, and honoring the Justices of the Commercial Division of New York, which the section was instrumental in establishing. The reception, held at the Russian Tea Room in New York, attracted more than 200 attendees. Many Commercial and Federal Litigation Section chairs have gone on to become leaders in the New York judiciary, including Association President Bernice K. Leber of New York (Arent Fox LLP).

"The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section is best known for formidable achievements that have raised the level of the bar and the profession," said Bernice K. Leber of New York, who spoke at the event. "This section is a testament of how lawyers do make a difference in our society through their advocacy and innovation."

In 1995, a task force of the section issued a report calling for the creation of a new commercial court for New York. Citing the section's initiative, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye appointed a task force to implement the concept proposed in the report, and in 1996, Commercial Divisions were established in New York and Monroe Counties. Since then, the section has continued to support the creation and operation of Commercial Divisions throughout the state, most notably by:
• Drafting a report calling for the elimination of jury exemptions, enacted by Chief Judge Kaye
• Editing the Commercial Division Law Report and other publications for lawyers in New York
• Developing training programs on substantive legal issues and ethics for lawyers and the judiciary throughout New York State
• Funding a Minority Law Student Fellowship, which is awarded annually by The New York Bar Foundation to enable a law student enrolled in a New York law school to spend 10 weeks during the summer working in the chambers of a Commercial Division justice
• Creating educational programs directed to lawyers in each judicial district in which a Commercial Division part is opened.

Established in 1988, the 2,500-member Commercial & Federal Litigation Section strives to improve the quality of representation of commercial clients in litigation matters, provides a forum for the improvement of law and procedure in the areas of commercial and federal litigation, and enhances the administration of justice.

The 74,000-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.  Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.