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With an unprecedented influx of foreign lawyers, Albany, N.Y., has become something of the Ellis Island of attorney admissions. Dozens upon dozens of attorneys from other states and far-flung continents are enrolling in the New York bar, and virtually all of them pass through the New York Capitol since the Appellate Division, Third Department, is responsible for the admission of out-of-state and foreign attorneys. On Tuesday, the Third Department admitted attorneys from 25 different states, plus Austria, Bahamas, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and the West Indies. “I look out in front of me and it looks like the United Nations,” said Michael J. Novack, clerk of the court. He said the sea of foreign faces is now routine at the two annual admission events conducted by the Third Department, as well as the single swearings-in held every month. Novack, the court’s clerk since 1983, said many young attorneys who plan to live and work out-of-state are now taking the New York Bar Examination so they at least have license to practice in New York should they want or need to. He said that with the “global economy” and New York City’s stature as the center of international commerce, it is often a matter of professional necessity for a foreign-based lawyer to be admitted in New York. “Many of them simply go back to their home state or country and never appear in a New York court,” Novack said. “But they feel it is a valuable credential for them to have.” VERBAL CHALLENGE Meanwhile, the wave of foreign applicants has added considerably to Novack’s chore of reading the name of each and every candidate for admission. On Tuesday, his list included some 630 names on 21 pages, and there were more “Chungs” on the list than either “Smiths” or “Joneses.” “There are a lot of tongue twisters in there, and it can be very challenging,” Novack sighed, although he did not miss a beat while enunciating “Stanislav Zakharenko” or “Vaijayanthi Raghunathan.” Novack is renowned for taking extraordinary care to get the names right, and his efforts yesterday earned a spirited applause from the newly admitted lawyers. Presiding Justice Anthony V. Cardona brought his entire court, not just the five justices who usually attend, to witness the largest admission ceremony in the history of the department. He presided over a packed convention center of fledgling lawyers. “I gotta tell ya,” the presiding justice said to the about-to-be-sworn-in attorneys, departing from his prepared remarks. “It’s a little tense in this room. I don’t know what’s going on. Relax. This is it, I promise you. Everything good is going to happen during the next hour. No more exams, I promise.” FINAL LECTURE There was, however, one last lecture. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer presented the keynote address to “this impressive and wonderfully diverse group of lawyers,” and used the occasion to recall the rule of law, its pragmatic and philosophic underpinnings, and the privileges and responsibilities it bestows on the legal profession. “Allow me to share some thoughts on the law that are applicable whether you will be practicing in Albany, across the country or anywhere else in the world,” Spitzer said. “When contentious issues are resolved in court, there are bound to be times when court action sparks controversy, protest and dissent. That’s the American way. It is my firm belief, however, that when courts display their ability to adjudicate in a decisive, fair and thoughtful manner, public confidence in the judiciary will only grow.” Spitzer spoke of the dynamic quality of American jurisprudence as a fluid and evolving presence and process. “Is there any point in time,” he asked, “when we would have wanted the law to suddenly become static? Is there any point in time when we would have been comfortable with maintaining the status quo? At one point in our history, the law recognized slavery, segregation, the inequality of genders, but the law has evolved to reflect changing values, morals and social dynamics. … I think it is fair to say that none of us would be comfortable with the state of the law as it existed in preceding eras. And no doubt 200 years hence, perhaps much sooner, the failures of the current legal structure will be as apparent to future generations as those of the past are to us.” PUBLIC SERVICE Spitzer also made a pitch for public service law, observing that the most satisfying aspect of his job is the capability to use litigation to shape the law for the public good, a paradigm for attorneys general perhaps established by Robert F. Kennedy when he ran the Department of Justice in the early 1960s. The Attorney General told the new lawyers they can fulfill their professional obligations, and find personal fulfillment, by pursuing public interest lawyering as either a public servant or a through pro bono efforts. “I strongly encourage those of you who will be in private practice to do pro bono work,” Spitzer urged. “Not only does it allow you to use your education and skills to help others, these cases will also provide you with valuable practical experience and reward you with the good feeling that comes from helping others.” Justice Cardona invoked his authority, dubious as he admits it is, to give the candidates the rest of the day off, no matter what their bosses say. “Sometimes there are questions about this,” Justice Cardona said, “and I’m not available this afternoon. But if your employer has any questions please have them call the Attorney General or some other member of the court.”

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