May 1, 2009


51st Annual Law Day Ceremonies Commemorate the Legacy of Abraham Lincoln

(Albany, N.Y. - 5/1/09) -- New York State Bar Association President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) today called on the legal community to continue its strong commitment to doing the public good, echoing the sentiment expressed nearly 150 years ago by America's quintessential lawyer-president, Abraham Lincoln.  In a taped speech shown to guests and participants at the 51st Law Day ceremony at the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany, Leber emphasized the critically important mission of serving the public that is entrusted to all members of the legal profession.

"Whether it is representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, or homeowners who face foreclosure, whether it is representing those who were wrongfully convicted, or coming to the aid of those who lost loved ones on September 11th, lawyers throughout New York, who faithfully serve clients for no charge, remain the quiet heroes of our profession," said Leber.

This year's Law Day celebrations held across the nation mark the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.  Regarded by many as one of the greatest orators in our nation's history, Lincoln devoted much of his adult life to the practice of law, handling thousands of cases on behalf of the citizens and businesspeople he represented.  Lincoln also was revered for his steadfast belief in the "rule of law," a highly cherished principle of our democratic government.

Leber noted, "Lincoln's greatest legacy is to remind us, as lawyers and as citizens, that the work is still unfinished, and that the law remains a higher calling because it empowers each of us to fulfill the promise of America: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It is fitting then, in this year, that we as lawyers also remember those who fought not so long ago in our recent history to respect the rule of law and the rights of those less fortunate than ourselves."

The 76,000-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.