GENDER DISPARITY IN THE COURTROOM HIGHLIGHTED IN REPORT BY COMMERCIAL AND FEDERAL LITIGATION SECTION OF NYS BAR ASSOCIATION
Women attorneys remain considerably underrepresented in courtrooms across the state as well as in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), according to a report issued by the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association.
The report entitled “If Not Now, When? Achieving Equality for Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in ADR,” was compiled by the section’s Task Force on Women’s Initiatives.
It reveals that female attorneys comprise about 25 percent of attorneys in lead counsel roles in courtrooms statewide. The results were strikingly similar in commercial and criminal cases within the private sector. Overall, women attorneys in the public sector, however, fared far better than their counterparts in the private sector.
“In sum, the low percentage of women attorneys appearing in a speaking role in courts was found at every level and in every type of court: upstate and downstate, federal and state, trial and appellate, criminal and civil, ex parte applications and multi-party matters,” according to the report.
The report is based on the first-ever observational study of women attorneys in the courtroom. The first portion of the study tracked the participation of women as lead counsel and trial attorneys in civil and criminal litigation. Judges were asked to log the gender of all speaking counsel in their courtroom. The other portion of the study asked several ADR providers to provide data regarding the gender of neutrals selected for mediations and arbitrations.
The study took place from Sept. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. The New York Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, two of the four federal district courts, all four appellate divisions as well as commercial divisions in supreme courts in counties from Suffolk to Onondaga and Erie participated. Approximately 2,800 questionnaires were completed and returned by judges in participating courts.
“The results reveal that women remain woefully underrepresented in the courtroom – particularly in the private sector,” said retired U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin of New York City (Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and JAMS). “We hope the report is widely disseminated and studied by lawyers in the public and private sectors, in-house counsel, and members of the judiciary. As our title suggests, the time has come to turn things around. We look forward to seeing a real improvement when we repeat the study in two years.”
In addition to Scheindlin, other task force members are: former Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie H. Cohen of New York City (Morrison & Foerster); Tracee E. Davis of New York City (Zeichner, Ellman & Krause); former State Bar Association President Bernice K. Leber of New York City (Arent Fox); Sharon M. Porcellio of Buffalo (Bond, Schoeneck & King); Lesley F. Rosenthal of New York City (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts); and Lauren J. Wachtler of New York City (Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp). All are former chairs of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section.
“The section's report is truly a significant step in advancing the discussion about the gender of attorneys appearing in New York courtrooms, the gender of neutrals appointed in ADR matters and toward identifying actionable items to reduce the obstacles confronting women trial lawyers,” said Section Chair Mitchell J. Katz of Syracuse (Menter, Rudin & Trivelpiece).
Mark A. Berman of New York City (Ganfer & Shore) was chair of the section when the study took place and is credited in the report for his leadership and support of the initiative.
The report is available at http://www.nysba.org/WomensTaskForceReport/.
LEGAL AID SOCIETY CHIEF SEYMOUR W. JAMES, JR. HONORED BY NYS BAR ASSOCIATION FOR DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SERVICE
Seymour W. James, Jr., attorney-in-chief of The Legal Aid Society in New York City, has been recognized with the 2017 Robert L. Haig Award, given by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association.
James heads the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit legal services organization, which annually handles 300,000 individual cases and matters. James was first hired by the Legal Aid Society in 1974 and has held various supervisory positions within the organization. He was the first attorney of color appointed as the attorney-in-charge of its criminal practice, the largest public defender group in the country and the main provider of indigent defense in New York City.
“Mr. James has devoted his life to equal justice and his entire legal career of more than 40 years to ensuring that underserved New Yorkers receive high quality representation,” said Mark Berman of New York City (Ganfer & Shore), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. “He is a model for our younger generation of attorneys.”
James served as president of the New York State Bar Association in 2012-13 and has been active in the State Bar since 1978, including three terms as treasurer and as the vice president for the 11th district. His other activities have included serving on the state Permanent Sentencing Commission, the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, and the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department.
The Robert L. Haig Award is given each year to a long-standing member of the legal profession who has rendered distinguished public service. Haig, a litigator at Kelley Drye in New York City, was the founder and first chair of the Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section.
Tracee E. Davis of New York City (Zeichner, Ellman & Krause), a past section chair, presented the award to James during the section’s Spring meeting in Saratoga Springs May 20.
NYS BAR'S COMMERCIAL AND FEDERAL LITIGATION SECTION RELEASES UPDATED SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES FOR ATTORNEYS
As the use of social media by attorneys and clients continues to grow, so do the ethics issues facing lawyers. In response, the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association has updated its Social Media Ethics Guidelines to assist lawyers in understanding these social media challenges.
“Whether you are a litigator, transactional attorney, in-house counsel or attorney who uses social media to communicate, blog, or solicit business, you should know the risks and benefits of social media use,” said Mark Berman (Ganfer & Shore), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. “The latest edition of the Guidelines continues to lead the New York State Bar Association efforts in this regard.”
First issued in 2014, the third edition of the Guidelines follows the structure of its predecessors, and contains new guidance on attorney advertising, responding to online reviews, and potential conflicts regarding an attorney’s social media posts.
The new edition reflects and references, both in revised text and footnotes, developments in case law and ethics opinions from around the country. The latest version also aims to help lawyers by providing a new appendix of key social media terms and descriptions of popular social media platforms.
This updated version of the Guidelines is the first since 2015. The section’s original 2014 version received national recognition and has been cited in ethics opinions of other bar associations. The section’s Social Media Committee is co-chaired by Ronald J. Hedges (Dentons) and Ignatius Grande (Hughes Hubbard & Reed).
“The original intent of our committee in issuing these Guidelines was to make it easier for attorneys to comply with the various ethics opinions, which have been issued over the past 10
years addressing social media,” said Grande. “We are proud of the impact that the Guidelines have had not just in New York, but throughout the country.”
The Guidelines, which are advisory, are available at www.nysba.org/SocialMediaGuidelines17.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING Minutes
December 6, 2016 (special meeting of the EC)
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