Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services & Public Affairs
lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518/487-5530

April 13, 2011

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION WINS NATIONAL GRASSROOTS AWARD

American Bar Association recognizes judicial efforts and congressional advocacy

The American Bar Association has recognized the New York State Bar Association with its 2011 Grassroots Advocacy Award for its judicial and legislative campaign to defeat new federal restrictions on legal profession.
 
The ABA credits the State Bar Association for "its successful efforts in rallying more than 50 state and local bar associations" in opposition to the Federal Trade Commission's Red Flag rule. The federal agency required creditors to develop programs to identity, detect and respond to identify theft. The State Bar Association successfully argued the FTC had exceeded the intent of Congress by applying the rule to lawyers.
 
Three years ago, under the leadership of then-President Bernice Leber of New York (Arent Fox), the State Bar Association launched its federal lobbying initiative.
 
"We were concerned that isolated contacts with members of Congress were not sufficient to carry the message of our 77,000 members. Our receipt of this award validates the effectiveness of these efforts on behalf of lawyers in New York," said current State Bar President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler).
 
"The State Bar Association has been a leader in serving as a resource to members of the New York Congressional delegation on issues of importance to the legal profession and society in general," said John Nonna of New York (Dewey & LeBoeuf), who co-chairs the Committee on Federal Legislative Priorities. "Most recently, we vigorously advocated for the preservation of funding for the Legal Services Corporation which provides civil legal services to indigent people."
 
The ABA recognized the New York State Bar Association for it advocacy in Congress and the FTC and for submitting an amicus curiae brief in a case the ABA subsequently brought against the FTC. The brief was filed by Arent Fox on a pro bono basis. "The NYSBA's efforts motivated 54 state and local bar associations to endorse the brief," according to the ABA.
 
A federal judge ruled against the FTC. While the appeal was pending, the State Bar Association, joined by bar associations across the nation, successfully lobbied Congress to pass a law that exempted attorneys from the Red Flag rule.
 
"The New York State Bar's work on the Red Flags Rule is a great example of how the legal community works together and succeeds together when it comes to critical legal issues," said ABA President Stephen N. Zack.

The Association, which is the largest state voluntary state bar association in the nation, is to receive the Grassroots Advocacy Award this evening during a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court.