Law is a profession and the New York State Bar Association is an essential part of it. The law, like other professions, has standards for education and training, admissions and professional conduct. And like other professions, it relies on professional organizations to maintain and protect those standards, ensure the training of members, and advance the goals of the profession, including service to the public. Within the NYSBA, the Business Law Section performs those functions for business lawyers and the business community in New York state and beyond.
I joined the Section’s Securities Regulation Committee almost 30 years ago, because of an interest I had in New York’s securities law, the Martin Act. As a member of the Committee, including three years as Chair, I learned more about the far corners of state and federal securities law than I ever knew existed and met lawyers who became mentors, colleagues and friends.
There are 11 subject matter committees in the Section, and one subcommittee (which may in time become a committee), covering such disparate topics as banking, bankruptcy, business organizations, derivatives, franchises, insurance, not-for-profit corporations, mergers and acquisitions, public utilities, and technology and venture law. Committees meet during the Spring, Fall and Annual meetings, and some meet more often. The Securities Regulation Committee meets for dinner, discussion and CLE every month except August. Section members include lawyers from large and small firms, in-house counsel, and government lawyers. We have experienced lawyers, lawyers just starting out or looking to change or expand their practice areas, and law students. Committee meetings provide an opportunity for lawyers from all levels of experience to meet as equals and to discuss new developments and established principles in a setting where discussions are driven not by specific client needs but by a broader interest in the law and policy.
As members of the Section and committees we have the opportunity to comment on regulatory and legislative proposals not primarily as client advocates but as experts interested in shaping good rulemaking and legislation. The Legislative Affairs Committee follows developments in the the New York legislature for bills affecting the New York business community. We have submitted memos for and against legislation. We have also proposed legislative changes, and will have a presentation at this year’s annual meeting on draft proposals to amend the Limited Liability Company Law.
We are committed to fostering greater diversity in our membership, and will be expanding our program to mentor minority lawyers and law students in the coming year.
The Bar Association often tells prospective members what membership can offer, and there is a lot, but I have a different pitch. In order for the Bar Association, and the Section, to continue to maintain the goals and standards of the profession, we need what you offer: your time, your talents, your dedication to the profession. I hope to see you soon.
Peter W. LaVigne is a partner in the New York office of Goodwin Procter.