ALBANY--With a deep-seated commitment to "Justice for All," Vincent E. Doyle III takes office Wednesday as the 114th President of the New York State Bar Association, pledging to find innovative ways to expand critical legal services for veterans, immigrants and the poor at a time of fiscal austerity.
"What lawyers do best is help people achieve justice. As attorneys, we have no greater responsibility than to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society--the disabled veteran, the hardworking immigrant, the indigent single mother--have the same access to justice as the most powerful," said Doyle, a partner at the Buffalo law firm of Connors & Vilardo LLP.
"Despite thousands of hours of free legal services provided by lawyers in New York, the needs of the disenfranchised and the underserved continue to grow. 'Justice for All' is a goal that this Association must work to achieve," Doyle said.
"Our military heroes have enormous legal needs. So do immigrants who come to this country looking for a better life, and so do millions of struggling families who are fighting to keep their homes or access to health care," he added. "The State Bar is uniquely suited to help."
Doyle is the eleventh State President from the Buffalo area and the first since 2000.
During his one-year term as State Bar president, Doyle's priorities include:
• Creating a Special Committee on Military Veterans: It will focus on the legal needs of veterans, service members and their families. These needs include both pre- and post-deployment issues, such as matrimonial and family law matters, medical needs, substance abuse, foreclosures, homelessness, consumer credit problems and criminal issues. Doyle said, "The men and women who have given so much for our country shouldn't suffer as a result of their service. We need to do everything we can to make sure their needs are met."
• Creating a Special Committee on Immigration Representation: It will examine the challenges faced by immigrants in deportation and other legal proceedings. "The stakes for immigrants are extremely high," he noted. "They often are unrepresented or vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals who exploit language barriers and exact exorbitant fees for incompetent and insufficient assistance." The Special Committee intends to generate a report with recommendations for ways to improve access to competent representation.
• Making indigent criminal defense services more efficient: The State Bar also will study ways to improve legal defense services for low-income individuals accused of crimes. The current "system" of criminal defense services burdens the counties to operate and fund their own defense providers, Doyle said. "These programs are underfunded and overworked so badly that it is hard for them to operate effectively." Doyle has tasked an existing committee of the Bar Association to find ways these providers can pool and share resources, to improve efficiency and the quality of available legal representation.
• Court funding and reorganization: The State Bar will monitor how a $170 million budget cut will affect the ability of the courts to remain open and accessible to all New Yorkers. Doyle will aggressively advocate that state government adequately finance the court system. In addition, the State Bar will examine ways to reduce long-term court costs and find efficiencies, including the possible consolidation of the state's 13 different trial courts.
• Internal State Bar projects: While working on these important statewide initiatives that impact all New Yorkers, Doyle plans to study how the Bar Association can accommodate its members' personal lives. Noting the important work of Past President Stephen Younger and the Task Force of the Future of the Legal Profession that examined the need to balance attorney work-life issues, he wants to make State Bar events more family-friendly, offering activities for children, day care and programs for spouses. In addition, Doyle will work to increase the diversity of the State Bar's leadership and membership so that it better reflects society as a whole.
A History of Service to the Community
An active member of the State Bar for two decades, Doyle served as President-Elect and chaired the Association's House of Delegates during the past year. Doyle spent five years as a member of Executive Committee and nine in the House of Delegates. He has chaired the Criminal Justice Section, Committee to Ensure Quality of Mandated Representation, and Task Force to Review Terrorism Legislation.
He currently serves on the Trial Lawyers Section, Committee on Legislative Policy, Membership Committee, Committee to Review Judicial Nominations, Committee on the Tort System, and the Task Force on Wrongful Convictions. He is a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation.
In addition to his State Bar activities, Doyle sits on the Advisory Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure to the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of the Courts of New York and is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He is a member of the New York State Judicial Screening Panel for the Fourth Judicial Department, which encompasses western New York. He was appointed by former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye to the Commission on the Jury, which recommended ways to improve the jury system.
Doyle is a member of the Erie County Bar Association and has served on its Board of Directors. He is former President of the Aid to Indigent Prisoner's Society, which administers the Assigned Counsel Program for the county.
A partner with Connors & Vilardo LLP, he is a trial and appellate attorney. His practice includes commercial litigation, white collar investigations and legal ethics matters.
An alumnus of Canisius College, Doyle graduated magna cum laude from University of Buffalo Law School. He and his wife, Kerry, live in Elma with their three young children, Aidan, Blaise and Isabella.
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
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