New York State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman has already provided an excellent statement about what goes on at our Annual Meeting. Rather than be repetitious, I want to share with you why I believe that attendance at the Annual Meeting and membership in NYSBA can be enriching, valuable and meaningful.
NYSBA’s Annual Meeting is a special week during which thousands of lawyers gather at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, sharing common interests. Lawyers of social, cultural and geographic diversity gather to attend CLE programs conducted by scholars, section and committee meetings, award ceremonies and other events honoring heroes and icons of our profession.
Attending NYSBA’s Annual Meeting provides a reminder that we lawyers are part of something special, with a rich tradition of scholarship, problem-solving and an abiding commitment to help the less fortunate. Sometimes in the daily pressures of life and the stresses of practice, it can be easy to forget that we lawyers play an important, indeed, a vital role in our society. We often help people and businesses resolve difficult problems in challenging situations. At the Annual Meeting there are numerous examples of selfless service and we are reminded that such service is so deeply engrained in our profession’s DNA that we have a special term for it that has come down through the ages: pro bono publico.
Attendance at NYSBA’s Annual Meeting helps remind us of the breadth, grandeur and importance of our profession. It also helps remind us of the importance and value of membership in this great Association. The camaraderie and the commitment to the profession’s core values on display at the Annual Meeting are truly unrivaled anywhere in our profession. It is deeply inspiring and a source of pride to attend events at which lawyers are recognized for noble work, for helping those who are less fortunate.
Personally, over the years, attending the Annual Meeting has afforded me the opportunity to develop friendships with lawyers from Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton, Staten Island, Rochester, Nassau, Suffolk, Ithaca, Syracuse and elsewhere whom it is unlikely I ever would have met—people who are examples of the best qualities in our profession—scholarship, humanity and a commitment to try to make the world a little bit better.
Additionally, I believe that membership in the New York State Bar Association is important to the future of our profession and our communities. Local bars and affinity bars are important and have a meaningful role to play, but when reform is needed, when unfair regulations or inappropriate laws are proposed, when there are violations of civil liberties or there are discriminatory practices, there is no stronger, more effective, more persuasive voice in New York than that of the New York State Bar Association.
I urge you to attend the Annual Meeting, and if you are not already a NYSBA member, please join us—we want and need your support!
Michael Miller is in private practice at the Law Office of Michael Miller.