February 2, 2010


Award given for volunteer program helping indigent tenants in Syracuse City Court

NEW YORK-The New York State Conference of Bar Leaders today announced that the Onondaga County Bar Association has received its 2010 Award of Merit for Medium Bar Associations (500 - 1,999 members). The awards honor local bars for their public service and innovative programming that enhance the public's understanding of the law. Recipients were honored at a January 29 breakfast during the New York State Bar Association's 133rd Annual Meeting at the Hilton New York in New York City.

The Onondaga County Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyer Project was recognized for creating an eviction defense program in Syracuse that provided indigent tenants with a "lawyer of the day" in Syracuse City Court. As a result of these volunteer efforts in 2008, 332 people had their evictions delayed, giving them valuable extra time to seek alternative housing. Another 96 people, from both public and private housing, avoided eviction altogether. With funding from IOLA, the Onondaga County Bar Association wrote and produced a training DVD for attorneys who volunteer at the City of Syracuse Landlord Tenant Court. The American Bar Association selected the DVD as the "Featured Event" during its National Pro Bono Week in October 2009.

"Local bar associations from Long Island to Buffalo play an important role in educating the public and improving their access to the justice system with innovative and timely programs that meet real community needs," said New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City). "The State Bar is pleased to honor all the awardees for their terrific work. I thank the Onondaga County Bar Association for its excellent efforts in protecting indigent tenants' rights."

"The Onondaga County Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyer Project has been a tremendous success in helping many low-income tenants faced with eviction stay in their homes or give them the time to find alternative housing," said Linda J. Clark of Albany (Hiscock & Barclay LLP), chair of the Conference of Bar Leaders. "I am honored to present our Award of Merit to the Onondaga County Bar and congratulate them on a job well done."

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 serves to inform bar leaders of new activities and programs that promote public welfare, public understanding of the law, and attorneys' professional responsibilities.

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

Founded in 1876, the 77,000-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. State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.