By Charles F. Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It’s hard to find a lawyer hereabouts who favors Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s “voluntary” pro bono reporting requirement regarding the biennial filing of pro bono work done for the needy as well to as disclose their financial contributions to groups that provide “legal services to the poor and underserved.”
Chief among those questioning the precedent-setting rules is Andrew Fallek, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, whose article on this subject in the Brooklyn Barrister received nothing but praise from lawyers we talked with.
“There are a number of areas of controversy surrounding this (Lippman proposal),” he noted, starting with
“1.The manner in which it was imposed (no consultation with the Bar at all).
“2. The limits on what is considered pro bono (work for the poor and underserved is covered but no other volunteer work for organizations like bar associations and interest groups).”
In addition, President Fallek noted in his third point, “The feeling that this is not exactly voluntary and despite statements to the contrary, will soon become mandatory if we fall short of aspirational goals (if OCA was pleased with what lawyers are already doing, why would they need specifics?)”
His fourth point is “that our financial contributions will be made available to the public.
Opposing this, he adds “is a strong argument (does the public really have an interest in knowing a lawyer’s pro bono history?)” In addition to any privacy issues, President Fallek believes that public disclosure “really sidesteps the whole pro bono issue.”
The foregoing is only part of what Fallek had to say in the Brooklyn Barrister. Next week, we’ll enjoy more of his line-by-line analysis of Judge Lippman’s remarkable initiative.
BBA’s ‘Cure’ for no-holds-barred “War of Roses”
Some matrimonial lawyers end up bearing scars, occasionally literal, of combat. Clients invade the opposing lawyer’s office, place mysterious phone calls at all hours of the night and even try to trick the court into believing that the other spouse is abusing one of the children.
Only too often we hear of a colleague who got punched by an angry client. Or, as most common these days, he received a catastrophic “review” online that resulted in an appearance before the Grievance Committee.
Then there is the dilemma inherent in representing a friend, also a matrimonial client, whom you see at social or professional events. They might feel free to question you about the case in the most awkward of circumstances, and they very often do.
Handling a matrimonial doesn’t have to descend into a “War Of The Roses” scenario – where Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner really “take the plunge” -- if counsel can only get their clients to agree to mediation. That classic “battle of the sexes” movie might have had a different climax if the parties had only gone through mediation.
In keeping with a theme of more polite divorce pacts, Brooklyn Bar Association CLE Director Meredith Symonds announces a timely program: “When It’s Not ‘War of the Roses’: Matrimonial Mediation.” It’s a luncheon presentation, set to take place Wednesday, March 19, 12:45-2 p.m. at BBA headquarters, 123 Remsen St. (Bring your own lunch.)
The BBA’s Family Law Committee, chaired by Rose Ann Branda, has arranged for a stellar panel including attorneys Catherine Canade and David Reilly.
They’ll go into meaningful detail, which Symonds’ literature indicates will be helpful, especially to new practitioner:
“The elements and steps in a mediated divorce; the mediator’s role; the types of clients who would be best suited for mediation; achieving success by addressing challenges that can arise, including the role of review and consulting attorneys, financial planners, therapists and other professionals; timing and costs.”
Sponsoring this session are the East Coast Appraisal Service and Investors Bank. For more information, contact Meredith Symonds, Esq. at (718) 624-0675, ext. 206.