Want to Meet and Mingle with the Professionals? Attend NYSBA's Annual Meeting

By:  Eugene Frenkel

Attending the 2016 New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Annual Meeting was an interesting and informative experience. It exposed me to areas of the law that I was not aware of, allowed me to network with NYSBA leaders and help honor hard-working attorneys trying to improve their communities.

I attended the Criminal Justice Section's panel on Human Trafficking as it was a topic I thought was no longer an issue in modern times.  However, through the discussion I learned that human trafficking affects thousands of people per year. The opportunity to listen in on leading attorneys discussing this serious topic made me appreciate toll human trafficking has on its victims.  There was also hope in discussing ways which the various organizations, including the New York State Bar Association are working on putting an end to this epidemic. Two of the panelists were a defense attorney and a prosecutor it was interesting to see them agreeing with one another more than not.   A Deputy Police Commissioner from a foreign country was in attendance as well, discussing how human trafficking affects his country’s people and what they are doing to protect their citizens.  

After the panel, I attended the Criminal Justice Section's luncheon. New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton delivered a very eloquent speech, which was followed by an award ceremony. In addition to Commissioner Bratton, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island District Attorneys’ were in attendance as well as the Executive Directors of public defender officers throughout the state.  Having all of those people in attendance made this a great opportunity to meet some very great people and expand my professional network.

Following the luncheon the Criminal Justice Section held their executive meeting. This was the first time I had been to an Executive Committee meeting. It was really interesting to observe leading Criminal Justice practitioners debate important and contentious topics. They discussed new initiatives to improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers and potential responses to proposed legislation. Finally, I found out about many of the excellent opportunities to become involved, not just in the Criminal Justice Section, but with NYSBA as well.  Some of their ideas centered on the following: Volunteering for committees, writing articles, and planning events. This is a short list of the many opportunities available.

On Friday, the last day of the Annual Meeting, I attended the New York State Bar Leader’s Breakfast, where bar associations from around the state were honored for their work in helping attorneys and clients. In addition, NYSBA presented the Pathway to the Profession Award for Student Involvement.  As a recipient, it was a very humbling to be honored among the many people in attendance. It also showed that hard work and being part of an organization can have its rewards.  Attending the Bar Leader’s Breakfast was an amazing opportunity to network with award attorneys from all over the state from various practice areas.  As much as I enjoyed attending the Criminal Justice Section program, it was nice to speak with practitioners from the various local and specialty bars.   

-Eugene Frenkel is a 2L at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law