Pro Bono Barrister: Bar Association bankruptcy panel, Thomas Jefferson, Facebook flop

September 4, 2012 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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BBA panel to explore current bankruptcy law

Given the challenging economic tenor of the times, it follows that with its next accredited session, the Brooklyn Bar Association will launch its three-part 2012 Bankruptcy CLE Series starting at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at BBA headquarters, 123 Remsen St.

Leading the panel are past BBA President Dave Doyaga, Brooklyn Volunteers Project Director Jeannie Costello and a representative from East Coast Appraisals.

Since just about every attorney is asked bankruptcy law questions – by clients, friends and relatives – these days, the initial program is designed for “the beginning attorney who has done five or fewer bankruptcies,” and will focus on the basics of bankruptcy and Chapter 7 filings.

Part 2, on Sept. 20 (same time and place) will go deeper into more complex topics such as “How to get the difficult or high-earning debtor under the means test cap for Chapter 7; Discharge and dischargeability actions” and more.

Part 3 will delve directly into thorny and technical topics such as “Effective loss mitigation and mortgage loan modification techniques”

Experts will also offer “Exemptions–advanced analysis; Exemption Planning” and explore the labyrinth of procedures surrounding the “Trustee’s sale of rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments.”

The BBA is led this year by Pres. Domenick Napoletano, ably assisted by President-elect Andrew Fallek, First Vice President Rebecca Woodland, Second Vice-President Arthur Aidala, Secretary Hon. Frank Seddio and Treasurer Aimee Richter. Lending his very capable assistance each year is Executive Director Avery Eli Okin.

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Thomas Jefferson preferred press over government

Thomas Jefferson, a founder of these United States — neither a Democrat nor a Republican — said that if given a choice between newspapers or a government, he would choose newspapers over a federal bureaucracy.

More true to the quote: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Jefferson was driven by a deep faith that the only way for a democracy to prosper was for the people to have open and full access to the happenings of their day especially the behavior of elected officials.

Newspapers, like law schools, are under great challenges these days, and much of the trouble is a symptom of the aforementioned digital age.

This newspaper, even with its still-evolving web operation, is a publication so far removed technically from Revolutionary War times, that even the inventive genius of Jefferson could not have conceived or imagined its existence.

It’s now axiomatic within the Fourth Estate that no newspaper can survive or prosper without a combination print on paper-internet publication. The over-heated Facebook Initial Public Offering (IPO) mishap showed, among other things, that the internet alone won’t bring in enough money to provide profit for all

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Facebook flop shows vitality of print papers

The clear implication of the Facebook fizzle was that the market for print-web papers remains strong. (As a 30-something lawyer admitted to me recently holding up her hands, “I just like to hold something to read, with pages to turn and different things to see. I don’t get that same feeling on line.” We’ll keep her anonymous to protect her from ridicule on the relentless anonymous sniping on the social media.)

The enduring strength of printed newspapers is particularly evident in communities like Bay Ridge. Down there in Southwest Brooklyn, there no fewer than three paid weekly newspapers – including our Bay Ridge Eagle –and two regular “controlled” (free-circulation) papers competing for the public’s favor. (Brooklyn Heights and the Court Street area are served notably by print-digital papers like this one and some “controlled distribution” offerings.

We’re watching an ongoing experiment reported some months back in the (still Internet-challenged) New York Times. The Times’ article, about the local Rockaway Wave newspaper, was titled, “At Weekly, Online News Has Long Come at a Price”

According to the Times story, while other major newspapers “are looking for ways to charge their online readers” the Rockaway Wave “has had a functional pay wall since 2003.”

“The Wave, one of the city’s oldest newspapers, has been serving the Rockaway peninsula in Queens since 1893,” said the Times piece. Its pay wall is only $20 a year, “a price that includes the print paper for Rockaway residents”. It has some 600 subscribers with a print run of 11,500, according to publisher Sanford Bernstein.

Bernstein admitted that his low online price has him at odds with Our Hometown Inc., a wide-ranging corporation that distributes The Wave and nearly 150 other weeklies nationwide online.

Meanwhile, The Wave’s impressive online edition is attractive and accessible demonstrating that there is a need and a market for paper-print media. Anyone who doubts this should talk to the ad agency, which pulled the $10,000,000 annual budget with Facebook before its IPO and dramatic decline in value.

Or just ask Mark Zuckerberg.

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PRO BONO BARRISTER is a weekly column dedicated to telling about the good that lawyers do. Send your comments or suggestions to this writer care of this newspaper or to [email protected].
Notice: Readers seeking legal representation on a Pro Bono Publico basis should not contact this columnist. Rather, they should seek out the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project at 718 -624-3894.


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