February 2, 2010


Award given for efforts to help veterans and service members with legal needs

NEW YORK-The New York State Conference of Bar Leaders today announced that the Bar Association of Erie County has received its 2010 Award of Merit for Large Bar Associations (2,000 members or more). 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 Bar Association of Erie County was honored for creating the standing Committee on Legal Issues of Veterans and Service Members to help meet a growing need for coordinated legal services and resources for service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The committee organized its efforts into three categories: education, coordination of local resources and representation. The committee organized monthly meetings with attorneys and community groups that deal with veterans and active duty personnel to discuss related legal topics of interest. The committee also held regular meetings with local agencies and programs that serve veterans and active duty military in order to increase awareness and coordinate resources. For example, the committee coordinated with the Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Veterans Consortium and National Veterans Legal Services Project in Washington, D.C. to arrange for free training for attorneys who agree to represent a veteran before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on a pro bono basis.

"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 honorees for their terrific work in helping the public. I thank the Bar Association of Erie County for their excellent efforts on behalf of our military men and women."

"The Bar Association of Erie County's work has given our service members and veterans the opportunity to find the vital legal help they need including pro bono representation in critical instances," said Linda J. Clark of Albany (Hiscock & Barclay LLP), chair of the Conference of Bar Leaders. "It is an honor and privilege to present them with our Award of Merit for their outstanding work for western New York military men and women who have sacrificed so much for all of us."

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 across the state about 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 activities and issues 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.