Welcome From The Chair

Borger2I am honored and privileged to be the Chair of the Corporate Counsel Section for 2019. It has been my pleasure to serve on the Section’s Executive Committee since 1999 and I was first Chair fourteen years ago. Why have I volunteered my time to serve this Section for so many years? An easy answer, it’s all about the people - the members of the Executive Committee, the members of the “Big Bar” that we work with, the law students we mentor and find internships for and the members we meet at the CLE programs and other activities.

Who are we? We are 1,500+ members strong, made up of 55% in-house counsel, 33% in private practice, with the remainder law students hoping to end up with in an in-house position and others who have a general interest in the in-house corporate practice. Approximately 65% of us practice in New York, though many live or work in surrounding states, and there is a 14% international contingent. We have almost as many members who practice in large law departments or firms as those who practice as one of five or less attorneys and just as many who are solo practitioners. From an age breakdown, our members are equally spread among the different age bands. The majority of our members have been in practice for more than 20 years. By gender, men make up approximately 60% of our membership. If we are not you, we can be you.

What are the membership benefits? The quarterly subscription to INSIDE, interesting CLE programming for which you receive a discounted registration rate, free lunchtime webinar informational briefings and access to the Section’s Committees. 

The editor of INSIDE is the Section’s Immediate Past Chair, Elizabeth Shampnoi. Liz always compiles interesting articles. The Fall 2018 issue contained articles ranging from mediation, international arbitration and the power of inclusion. If you have an idea for submission, please contact Liz directly (elizabeth@shampnoiadr.com).

Let me provide you with a flavor of the programming we produce or co-produce. In November the Section put on its semi-annual CLE Ethics for Corporate Counsel, which was well attended and received. In December we conducted a free luncheon webinar entitled “Blockchain and Smart Contracts 101”. At the Annual Meeting, in January, the Section partnered with the Dispute Resolution Section to produce an afternoon of CLE under the title “ADR in the Boardroom and the Headlines: Not Fake News”. The following week, we partnered with the NY Women’s County Bar Association in presenting “Breaking Through Bias to Achieve Rainmaking and Leadership Success”. Looking ahead, our Eighth Corporate Counsel Institute will be held on October 17th, at the office of the International Center for Dispute Resolution, in midtown Manhattan, with a reception to follow at the offices of Kelley, Drye & Warren. Please look for the marketing collateral later this year. We are in process of scheduling six free lunchtime webinar informational briefings and a CLE entitled “Handling Law Enforcement Contact as In-house Counsel”.

The Section committees include INSIDE/Publications, CLE and Meetings, Diversity, Membership, Pro Bono, Technology and New Media, and the Diversity Internship Program. Our committees are always looking for new members. Please reach out to me or our Section’s Liaison, Sally Bratten, if you are interested in becoming involved.

I would be remiss if I didn't highlight one of our Section’s gemstones, the Kenneth G. Standard Diversity Internship Program. The program, in its 14th year, is named to honor the NYSBA Past President who has shown a lifetime commitment to initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in the legal profession. The Section works with various New York State laws schools to select diverse law students to apply for summer internships in corporate law departments with New York State companies or organizations. Last year, eleven interns, from eight law schools were placed in eight corporate organizations. For the first time the Section placed an intern through the New York State Bar Foundation, in memory of past Chair, Jana Springer Behe, following Jana’s untimely passing in 2017. A wonderful reception to honor the interns and Ken Standard was held in July at the offices of Pryor Cashman, LLP.

Thank you for perusing the Corporate Counsel Section’s webpage and learning more about us. If you are not a member, I hope you will consider joining us. The cost is a mere $35 per year, as part of your annual NYSBA membership.

If you have any questions/comments for me or want to volunteer to became active in a Committee or other activity, please contact me at mitchell.borger@macys.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mitchell F. Borger

Watch a Message from Mitchell Borger here.

Mitchell F. Borger is Vice President, Assistant General Counsel for Macy’s, Inc., the iconic department store chain. For more than 30 years, Mitch has practiced in-house, starting with the NY Power Authority, United Merchants & Manufacturers, Inc. and the last 24 years for Macy’s. He started his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the Bronx District Attorney. During his time at Macy’s, Mitch has counseled clients in the areas of litigation supervision, store-line operational, loss prevention and employment issues. The key employment issues include defense of discrimination claims, reductions in force, training and alternative dispute resolution - with an emphasis on Macy’s arbitration program. In addition, he spent six years managing Macy’s in-house litigation team and seven plus years as a manager of the Company’s employment legal practice. His proudest Macy’s work involves participating in 23 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, including the last 12 as its In-House Legal Clownsel helping to supervise 900+ clowns. In 2017, Mitch was awarded the Parade’s Distinguished Service Award. 

Mitch is the current Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Corporate Counsel Section, its 2005 Chair and a twenty-year member of its Executive Committee. In 2010-11, he served as a member of NYSBA’s Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct. The next year, Mitch chaired a Commercial & Federal Litigation Section Working Group which issued the “Report on Faster, Cheaper, Smarter Litigation Practices”. 

Mitch has been a past CLE speaker on topics such as emerging issues in employment law, employment arbitration, consumer racism, corporate public relations in the electronic age, litigation management and retail loss prevention training. 

Mitch is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta and Albany Law School of Union University.