May 1, 2020
Dear NCBA Members:
I would like to wish everyone a Happy Law Day. Please see below in this email for a special message from Hon. Ira B. Warshawsky, Chair of the NCBA Law Day Committee, and a link to the NYSBA Virtual Law Day.
As another shelter-in-place week draws to a close, I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge all those who’ve sent kind words to me in emails and messages. Serving as your Bar President has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I will keep all your words forever in my heart.
This week, I participated in a large group telephone call with former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President Hank Greenberg, and numerous judicial administrators and bar leaders comprising the NYSBA COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, a project in partnership with the state court system. The goal of this task force is to create statewide oversight of the various networks of pro bono lawyers who will be assisting New Yorkers suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
NYSBA’s website presents this explanation: “At Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s urging, the network’s first task is dispatching lawyers to help jobless workers—whose ranks have swelled under the state’s economic slowdown—apply for unemployment benefits. But the network is quickly gearing up to handle a range of other issues, from evictions to domestic violence to job and housing discrimination. ‘The blue-ribbon panel we have assembled includes some of the best minds the New York legal community has to offer,’ said Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. ‘I have the utmost confidence that this panel will ensure that those who are in desperate need of legal help will get the assistance they need.’”
I was very proud that under the supervision of our COVID-19 Community Task Force Chair Martha Krisel, the NCBA is far ahead of the statewide curve. We have already set up the infrastructure to help residents and small businesses in the county with their pandemic-related legal questions, and I have already been publicizing our efforts in the media with appearances on
We moved with tremendous speed in getting our program up and running and we are doing great work to help the community. My thanks go to Martha, Gale Berg, Ann Burkowsky and all the volunteer lawyers participating in the program.
During the group call, another bar leader raised the issue of the imminent need to re-open the courts for
e-filing in non-essential matters, and I seized the opportunity to emphasize and expand on her comments. I feel it is crucial to reiterate, as often as possible, to all judicial administrators that delays in the implementation of e-filing to start new matters is causing harm to lawyers, their staff members, and their clients.
Obviously, safety is always the primary concern. But I very directly made the point that finding safe procedures with which to open up e-filing to start new civil matters should be a top priority of the NYSBA and the state court system.
For existing matters, see the important update below.