February 2, 2009


The New York State Conference of Bar Leaders has announced the winners of its 2008 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 were honored at a breakfast during the New York State Bar Association's 132nd Annual Meeting on January 30 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

Awards were 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, and attorneys' professional responsibilities.

"Our awards showcase the terrific work that our local bar associations do every day to make an impact in their communities," said Linda J. Clark of Albany(Hiscock & Barclay LLP), chair of the Conference of Bar Leaders. "I am pleased to honor this year's recipients' exceptional efforts to help the greater good and improve the public's confidence in the justice system."

Awards were presented to:

  • Oneida County Bar Association(small bar association-fewer than 500 members) for its comprehensive two-part program focused on promoting public awareness of the issues of wrongful convictions, their causes, consequences, and cures. More than 700 people attended the Art of Innocence event in November and helped raise awareness of wrongfully convicted Steven Barnes, who was exonerated on November 25, 2008.
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association - New York Chapter (medium bar association-500-1,999 members) for its work with the Executive Office for Immigration Review in providing pro bono intake and representation to juveniles who have been apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • New York County Lawyers Association (large bar association-more than 2,000 members) for its Best Practices for Judges in the Settlement and Trial of Cases Involving Unrepresented Litigants in Housing Court. The Best Practices provide guidelines for judges faced with an exponential increase in unrepresented litigants in housing cases and guidelines for a more active role for judges in these cases. When utilized by judges, the Best Practices will help unrepresented litigants gain significantly greater access to the judicial system.

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 76,000-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. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.