Last week my life was devoted to the New York State Bar Association meetings in New York City. The sheer number of attendees was overwhelming, the hours spent in lectures can be grueling, and the time away from the office is a hardship. Was it worth it? Yes, a resounding YES!
Why? First and always, I count myself as a devotee of life-long learning, but more importantly, it is the clients that keep me attending. Particularly for my firm, we need to be aware of emerging best practices in elder law, special needs, trusts, estates, surrogates law and taxation. The meetings allow us to keep up with case law, statutory changes and regulatory developments. Attending the meetings in person promotes the exchange of ideas and offers time to challenge and debate finer points of law. And then, to bring these exchanges back to the office for continued debate.
But, as they say on TV: “there is more!” I tip my hat to the honorees of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section: Michael J. Amoruso, Esq. and Bernard A. Krooks, Esq. for their accomplishments in securing passage of federal law revisions, enabling the establishment of self-settled special needs trusts by disabled individuals, and to those of us who continue to push forward to reform Section 5 of the General Obligations Law regarding Powers of Attorney.
Also, as a recent appointee to the NYSBA House of Delegates (as a member of the New York City Bar Association delegation), this past week of meetings has given me insight into the excellent work of the NYSBA, the local bar associations, and affiliated associations in supporting reform in diversity and inclusion in the profession, advancement of women in the law and enhancement of judicial excellence. The Task Force on Women’s Initiatives prepared “If Not Now, When? Achieving Equality for Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in ADR”.
I was inspired by the remarks of the Honorable Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the State of New York, who will be delivering the annual “State of Our Judiciary” address in Albany’s Court of Appeals Hall on February 6, 2018. Watch live starting at 11:30 @ http://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/soj.htm.
I encourage every New York attorney to view the Presidential Summit: Race, Slavery and Mass Incarceration January 24, 2018, highlighting Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary “13th” which explores racial inequality and the 13th Amendment. (You may also want to look at the report of the New York City Bar Association’s Mass Incarceration Task Force, “Where Do We Go From Here”).
There is always more to learn. I am proud of our profession and my colleagues who take the time to participate in these efforts, in association meetings, and who (at some sacrifice – particularly for small practitioners of which I am one) make the effort to include membership fees in their annual firms’ budget.
Mira B. Weiss, Esq. is the founder and principal of Weiss Law Group, PLLC and “Of Counsel” to Abrams Garfinkel, Margolis, Bergson, LLP (AGMB) based in New York and California. With thirty years’ experience as an attorney and business professional she brings unique skills and a fresh, holistic, approach to the practice of elder law, special needs, and trusts and estates.