Programs that assist hurricane victims, first-year law students of color and clergy leaders have been recognized for their community impact by the New York State Conference of Bar Leaders.

The Conference of Bar Leaders, sponsored by the State Bar Association, has honored five bar associations with its 2012 Bar Leaders Innovation Awards. The awards recognize exemplary and creative programs sponsored during the past year by local, ethnic, specialty, minority and women's bar associations.

"Bar associations are uniquely qualified to meet the needs of their communities. Their timely programs do make a difference and can help people," said Karla Wilsey of Rochester (Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara & Einiger), chair of the conference's Executive Council. "It is a privilege to honor their excellent programs."

The winners received their awards on January 25 during the Bar Association's Annual Meeting in New York City. They are:

Monroe County Bar Association (large bar category, more than 2,000 members): Co-sponsored by the Rochester Black Bar Association and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys, the Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program provides historically underrepresented students with internships as summer associates in law firms, law departments and legal services offices. 

Albany County Bar Association (medium bar category, 500 to 2,000 members): Its Hurricane Heroes program has assisted more than 100 victims of flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in Albany, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie and Ulster counties.

Metropolitan Black Bar Association (small bar category, fewer than 500 members): The bar association sponsored a four-panel seminar, "How to Protect Your House of Worship from Liability," on issues affecting the clergy and the attorneys who represent them.

The New York State Conference of Bar Leaders is a semi-independent organization sponsored by the State Bar Association. It provides leadership and management programs and guidance, and serves as an information conduit to unite the more than 150 bar associations statewide.

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

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Contact: Brandon J. Vogel
Media Writer
518/487-5535
bvogel@nysba.org