Brooklyn Boro

Washington listens when Brooklyn Law dean speaks about 2016 Democratic Convention

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister

September 8, 2014 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Law School Dean Nick Allard. File photo courtesy of Brooklyn Law School
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Most members of the city legal community know that Brooklyn Law School (BLS) Dean Nick Allard came onto the scene a few years ago to help BLS deal with the myriad problems that have dogged the legal profession for the past several years.

When he took over, back in 2012, Dean Allard came up with a number of bold ideas. Truth be told, a few of his proposals didn’t sit well with some BLS alums. Some of us were, in fact, shocked when he suggested a shorter (time-wise) two-year law school program, instead of the traditional three or four, for those of us who attended nights.

Yet, before long, it was clear that Dean Allard was thinking about a lot more than the school’s income. It seems he had an uncanny ability look ahead, which was why he was among the first to embrace a revolutionary concept that even President Barack Obama believed to be necessary if the law profession as we know it were to survive.

Like no BLS dean before him — even the revered Jerome Prince, who pounded the rules of evidence into our heads in the old building off Willoughby Street — the former Patton Boggs (yes, that Patton Boggs) partner knows how to make his case before a skeptical public. When Dean Allard stepped out in front of the controversial reduced law school term and other innovations, he won the attention of many lawyers and, ultimately, their support.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond


How Did (And Does) He Do It?

Clearly this guy is some kind of communicator, we thought, not just another academic dreamer tilting at windmills. Some of us were a bit surprised to learn that his plea to hold the 2016 Democratic National Convention right here in Brooklyn carried quite a bit of weight with party powers, who will make the site selection later this year.

Why? A look at his resume reveals that he has a serious political background, having worked for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Abraham Ribicoff.

Academically, Dean Allard may not be a BLS grad, but he is a Rhodes Scholar, did his undergraduate work at Princeton and earned his law degree from Yale. He’s been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Mason University School of Law.

Most importantly, he has been a lobbyist, serving most recently as a partner in the Washington firm of Patton Boggs, one of the nation’s most influential firms. He co-chaired the firm’s Democratic Party division, working full time in the 2000 presidential election for the true winner, Vice President Al Gore.

While it can’t be said that he has a mission — outside of preserving and improving the quality of Brooklyn Law — he does have the chutzpah to speak out on a pet theme: lobbying is an honorable profession! (Exclamation is ours.)

Given his legendary persuasive powers, it’s certainly better to have him on our side at this time because it’s clear the profession — and the cause of bringing the Democratic Convention to Brooklyn — both need someone to tell it the way we would like it to be.

It’s an accepted axiom in our capitol that when Patton Boggs speaks, legislators listen. It’s hard — maybe impossible — to separate his concerns from those of this firm where the Democratic Party and the 2016 convention are concerned. It’s clear that barrister Dean Allard was regarded as a very meaningful link to the Democratic Party and is highly respected by those leaders who will decide whether to hold the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn.

Are we talking “connections” here? That’s for readers and Democratic convention brass to conclude. He is refreshingly candid about lobbying and is quoted by one source, saying, “I think what we’re doing down here — Washington lawyers, Washington lobbyists — you’re problem-solving. That’s what’s needed in a very challenging time in the legal profession.”

So, it should come as no surprise that this very rational and down-to-earth argument for siting this historic conclave in our own Barclays Center was featured in a recent edition of the influential Capitol Hill Roll Call, where it would be read and heeded by just about all of the Democratic power brokers who will decide on the Brooklyn option within the next several months.

In truth, it’s safe to say that he had — and probably retains — more real clout in that beleaguered city than most serving members of Congress.

Without further ado, here is what Dean Nick Allard told Washington in an article titled “Conventional Wisdom: Choose Brooklyn” that appeared in the July 7, 2014 edition of Roll Call:

“The Democratic Party is pondering locations for the 2016 Convention, including Brooklyn, New York. Why would any political party want to hold a convention in Brooklyn?” Allard wrote. “I can give you millions of reasons, starting with its famous sons and daughters, from Jimmy Durante to Mel Brooks to Jackie Gleason, from W.H. Auden to Norman Mailer to Arthur Miller, from George Gershwin to Lena Horne to Barbra Streisand, from Winston Churchill’s mother to Shirley Chisholm to Elizabeth Holtzman to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, from Sandy Koufax to Vince Lombardi to Michael Jordan, from Isaac Asimov to Carl Sagan.”

The article in Roll Call continued, “It’s a constellation of luminaries, a who’s who of America’s history and heritage, not to mention so many of your relations and friends that it often seems as if everyone is from Brooklyn. But the real focus is on tomorrow, be-cause Brooklyn is tomorrow: The world’s best and brightest are flocking to the Promised Land of Brooklyn. Better yet, they’re at the forefront of this borough’s renaissance in education, business, architecture, technology, entrepreneurship, creative and performing arts, culture and my personal favorite, food.”

Allard continued, “Put aside Brooklyn’s stature as the capital of strength, swagger and cool for a moment. If you want to know why people are pouring in to neighborhoods such as Red Hook, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights and Brooklyn Heights, just ask our student graduation speaker, who called her alma mater the best (and only) law school ‘in the biggest and most vibrant borough, in the greatest city, in the leading state of the most wonderful country on the planet.’”

“To be sure,” Allard wrote, “There’s weight behind the hyperbole. Within eyeshot of Lady Liberty, Brooklyn is known justifiably as the borough of immigrants, the borough of churches, meaning the home of religious freedom and expression of all denominations and faiths. It’s the site of the first great battle of the American Revolution, where the 1st Maryland Regiment sacrificed itself so that Washington’s Army could fight another day. It’s where Walt Whitman, Booker T. Washington, and Henry Ward Beecher campaigned for abolition of slavery and full emancipation. It’s where America made everything from the ships that brought victory in the world wars to the watches and clocks that keep track of modern times. Today it’s a groundswell of palpable, buzzing energy, a marketplace of ideas and a hub for innovation, the very picture of American determination and grit.”

Allard went on to write, “By all practical measures, top marks should be given to Brooklyn as the convention venue for 2016. Beyond its infrastructural riches — major airports and railways, 24 subway lines, easy-to-navigate streets, an endless supply of taxis — the borough boasts the gleaming new Barclays Center, which is already ranked the nation’s No. 1 revenue-generating arena. In fact, only the Q2 and Manchester arenas in England stand in its way from becoming the world’s top venue. As for the other world-class attractions, entertainment, dining, and accommodations, Brooklyn offers an unrivaled cornucopia. (That nearby island across the river, which has hosted successful conventions of both parties, is no slough either.)”

In conclusion, Allard asks Roll Call readers, “Could any other location be better for a political convention than Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboutit!”


Kings County Inn of Court Sets Sept. 30 CLE Session

The Kings County Nathan R. Sobel Inn of Court will hold its first meeting on Sept. 30, starting at 6 p.m., at Brooklyn Bar Headquarters, 123 Remsen St., we’ve been advised by Inn Administrator Lucy DiSalvo.

President Dave Chidekel leads the highly regarded legal organization, which is fashioned in the style of the ancient Inns of Court in London.

President Chidekel has gained a reputation as one of most creative actors in the Inn’s courtroom reenactment dramas, illustrating various points of law and advice on how to avoid the perils of everyday practice.

Other Inn officers include President-Elect Justice Arthur Schack, Counselor Justice Miriam Cyrulnik and Treasurer Jon Besunder.

The Inn was founded almost 15 years ago by Justice Marsha Steinhardt, retired Justices Gerard Rosenberg and Abraham Gerges and former Justice Edward Rappaport, who now serves as the president emeritus. Among those serving as inn masters are Justice Carl Landicino, Judge Joanne Quinones, Hon. Barry Kamins, Appellate Division Justices Cheryl Chambers and Sylvia Hinds Radix, Hon. Gloria Cohen Aronin, Steve Harkavy and Steve Goolnick.

Inn executive director is Jeffrey Feldman.


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