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January 8, 2009

STATEMENT FROM NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT BERNICE K. LEBER ON GOVERNOR PATERSON'S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS 

New York State Bar Association President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) released the following statement regarding Governor David Paterson's State of the State address:
 
"Governor Paterson outlined a positive agenda to help us revitalize our economy, reinvest in our communities, and promote job opportunities for future generations of New Yorkers.  Our economic development is also largely dependent upon having an environment that can sustain such growth, and I applaud the Governor for his bold "45 by 15" clean energy initiative that will protect the environment, improve our quality of life, and develop additional renewable energy resources. Just as we must address the global warming crisis during these tough economic times, we also urge Governor Paterson and our state leaders to dedicate some of New York's limited resources to ensuring that the poor have access to civil legal services.  How we serve our most vulnerable citizens in dire circumstances is one of the virtues that defines us, and with a relatively small amount of money, we can offer much help and protection to many New Yorkers.
 
These tough fiscal and economic times have affected people from all walks of life, and the State Bar stands poised and ready to assist our state and federal government leaders in ensuring that New York makes a full recovery and reasserts its position as the financial capital of the world.  While we recognize the tremendous fiscal challenges facing the state, we remain committed to working with the Governor, the Senate and Assembly on our key legislative initiatives, including improving access to the justice system, attracting and retaining the best and brightest minds to our judiciary, providing adequate civil and criminal legal services to the poor, reforming the indigent criminal defense system, and enhancing support for the legal profession. 
 
The legal system is the cornerstone of our democratic government, always acting as a pillar of strength while defending the rights of our citizens, even during the toughest of times.  By working together, we can ensure equal access to justice for all."

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The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, the State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.