PRO BONO BARRISTER: Lawyers prefer 3 years of law school

March 4, 2013 By Charles F. Otey, Esq Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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When a select American Bar Association panel recently came up with a number of ideas for dealing with the current enrollment and employment crises within the profession they made a number of suggestions.

Stirring the most discussion – controversy, actually — was the proposal to cut law school time from three to two years.

It didn’t take long for lawyers skilled in Facebook to come up with responses from colleagues. Among them was past BBA President Andrea Bonina, who asked her “friends” this question:

What do you think about reducing law school to two years? What changes in lawyer education do you think are needed?

Barrister Bonina was flooded with replies, some of which we present here:
* Delcresa Gayle :”I’m not sure that reducing law school to 2 years is the answer. As with any trend ,there are peaks and valleys. Going to law school was trendy 15 to 20 years ago; it is no longer much like the IT boom of the 1990s in comparison to now.
“It is important to keep the tradition of legal education intact After all, it is legal education not vocational school.
“The crux of legal education should be centrally focused on the development of one’s intellect and thought.
“As far as I’m concerned, going to law school to get a job only cheapens the educational experience that law school should offer”.
* Steve Harkavy: I do agree with your (Andrea’s) comments. I know the (requirements) for law school will not be lowered..
* Alice Fisher Rubin: “There should be emphasis on courtroom manners. Also practical experience (is needed).”
Everyone we talked with had an opinion, and it was hard to find any practicing lawyer who wanted to reduce this valued tradition by one-third. “It would be the beginning of the end of law as a profession,” said one veteran attorney.

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In Stressed Times, Brooklyn Bar Offers CLE ‘Nuts & Bolts’ For Recovery

Given the tough economy of the times, where even experienced barristers are seeking new areas of practice, it’s good to learn that the Brooklyn Bar Association, headed by President Domenick Napoletano, has prepared a very practical and timely series dealing with the nuts and bolts of basic law practice.

CLE Chair Meredith Symonds, working with BBA Executive Director Avery Okin, has assembled an elite panel which will kick off the series on March 6 at BBA Headquarters, 123 Remsen St.

The initial presentation, moderated by Real Property Law Committee Chair Marc Caruso, will delve into the essentials of landlord and tenant law.

They’ve arranged for an informative talk by Paul Bierman, court attorney for Hon. Brenda Spears, who presides over the New York County Landlord and Tenant Court.
Chair Caruso will also share his L & T expertise in this offering which promises that those taking part will be able to “acquire the tools you will need to handle everything in landlord and tenant law cases.” This event is also sponsored by the Investors Bank.

The BBA CLE, according to Ms. Symonds, will follow up the next day, March 7, with a panel that will endeavor to inform other lawyers about the basics of “Asset Protection Planning.”

Highly regarded experts in this critical area on the panel include CPA Eugene Stoler Esq., and Barry Engel, who is coming in from Denver, Col. to participate.

Barrister Stoler heads the BBA Taxation Law Committee, which is sponsoring this event along with Raich Ende Malter & Co. CPAs and Advisors and the East Coast Appraisal firm.

They will discuss “practical application of asset protection for business people, professionals and investors, tax compliance as well as “civil, criminal and ethical traps for the unwary planner.”

Serving as BBA president-elect this year is Andrew Fallek, with a slate consisting of First Vice President Rebecca Rose Woodland (the TV legal commentator), Second Vice President Arthur Aidala, Secretary Hon. Frank Seddio and Treasurer Amiee Lee Richter all assisted by the steady hand of Executive Director Okin.

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Appellate Justice Miller Reviews Appeals Process For Bay Ridge Lawyers

The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association last Wednesday had the good fortune to hear from one of the state’s top jurists – the Hon. Robert Miller, associate justice of the 2nd Department Appellate Division.

While every appellate court applies New York law, each one differs from the other and these slight differences count when taking an appeal. When the Bay Ridge Lawyers gathered Wednesday at Hunter’s Steak and Ale House, Justice Miller was able to give his learned observations focusing in on how the Second Department deals with these distinctive elements.

Expressing appreciation on behalf of the BRLA, President Pasqualino (Pat) Russo said his group “was honored to have Judge Robert Miller present his insight and depth of knowledge of appellate practice in the Second Department, a court that has jurisdiction over nearly one-half of the state’s population. Judge Miller shared his thoughts on the best practices for appellate attorneys, as well as those who prepare an appeal on rare occasions.”
“We were all privileged” added President Pasqualino, “to learn more of the process by which appellate judges review cases and prepare opinions, and the critical importance of well-prepared oral arguments. What a treat for all of us!”

President Russo works with a stellar slate that includes Vice President Joann Monaco, Secretary Lisa Becker, and Treasurer Grace Borrino, and Corresponding Secretary Steve Spinelli (whose office will be supplying PBB with images of the event). Immediate past president is Helen Z. Galette.

Starting last year, President Russo became special counsel to the prominent Windels Marx firm where his focus is on transportation law, including matters involving regulatory compliance and other complex issues.

He’d earlier spent 15 years representing New York state, ending up as executive deputy nspector General of State Welfare.

In the interests of full disclosure, I had the pleasure of serving with him later as an administrative judge at the New York Taxi Commission where he very graciously explained the challenging web system when the TLC switched from hand-written decisions to a totally computerized program.

Also at Windels Marx, by the way, is former Taxi Commissioner Matt Daus, who brought the TLC out of the dark ages during his extended tenure there. Coincidentally, Hon. Beth Bonina, who served as chief administrative judge when we were at the TLC–and is now a highly respected mediator with NAM, serves on the BRLA board of directors.

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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]. 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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