About the Senior Lawyers Section

As people are living and working longer, the definition of what it means to be a senior continues to evolve. The demographics affect us all, including lawyers. Senior lawyers currently make up 25 percent of the Association’s membership, and include those who continue to work full time at law firms or in solo practices, as well as those who opt for part-time employment opportunities or donate pro bono services in their communities. In July of 2006, the New York State Bar Association formed a special committee to recognize such lawyers and the unique issues that they face. As the result of the work of this committee, in 2008, the House of Delegates approved creation of the first Senior Lawyers Section of the New York State Bar Association.

Meet the Chair
Carole A. Burns, Esq.

Executive Committee Roster

Senior Lawyers Section Profile

Lawyers who are age 55 or older have valuable experience, talents, and interests. Many such senior lawyers are considering or have already decided whether to continue to pursue their full-time legal careers or whether to transition to a new position, a reduced time commitment at their current position and/or retirement from a full-time legal career. Accordingly, the Senior Lawyers Section has been created and charged with the mission of:

  • Providing opportunities to senior lawyers to continue and maintain their legal careers as well as to utilize their expertise in such activities as delivering pro bono and civic service, mentoring younger lawyers, serving on boards of directors for business and charitable organizations, and lecturing and writing;
  • Providing programs and services in matters such as job opportunities; CLE programs; seminars and lectures; career transition counseling; pro bono training; networking and social activities; recreational, travel and other programs designed to improve the quality of life of senior lawyers; and professional, financial and retirement planning; and
  • Acting as a voice of senior lawyers within the Association and the community

Scope of Activities

The Senior Lawyers Section seeks to address such issues as:

  • Career continuity
  • Career changes
  • The desire and opportunity to:
    • Render pro bono service
    • Serve on boards
    • Mentor other attorneys
    • Take CLE courses relevant to seniors
  • Social activities for seniors

2013-2014 Annual Report to the Membership

The meaning of “senior” is not what it once was. As people are living and working longer, the traditionally “sunset years” are becoming less static and more active and individualized. The Senior Lawyers Section seeks to serve attorneys aged 55 and older in helping them plan for their future, whatever form that may take.

The Section’s full-day Fall program this year was titled, Living to 103 – Are You Prepared? Topics examined included aspects of finance, taxes, and long term care, the use of technology for finding new opportunities, and ethical issues incident to selling or closing a law practice. The program was co-sponsored by NYSBA’s Law Practice Management Committee, and a recorded copy of the program will be available at www.nysba.org/LPMCLE. Programs are tailored to assist attorneys both in their personal planning and with advising clients.

The SLS MCLE program at Annual Meeting, Strategies for Optimizing and Protecting Your and Your Clients’ Assets in Retirement, was well-received and fostered lively discussion. Presentations by respected panelists looked at varied aspects of planning, including types of house transfers, special needs trusts, the basics of wills and trusts, social security, and IRA minimum distributions and Roth conversions.

The Section’s Executive Committee was delighted to host guest speaker Hon. Judith S. Kaye at its September meeting, as she shared her own experience transitioning from her position as Chief Judge in New York’s Court of Appeals. Discussion ensued on how best the vast knowledge and experience of senior lawyers can be harnessed, be it in pro bono service or active practice, and how the Senior Lawyers Section can provide guidance and options to this growing population.

The Section remains committed to diversity in the profession, and to service to the community in pro bono activity. Periodic publication of The Senior Lawyer keeps members abreast of topics of interest to senior attorneys. 

2014 Section Officers

Chair: Carole A. Burns
Vice-Elect: Elizabeth J. McDonald
Vice-Chair: Rosemary C. Byrne
Treasurer: Charles E. Lapp, III
Secretary: Ellen G. Makofsky