November 13, 2014

Happy Birthday FOIL!

Unlike some of us, FOIL continues to thrive and grow as it ages. Remarkably, 40 years has passed and the "Open Records Law" continues to benefit many, not to mention its impressive ability to adapt and continue to work with all of the technological changes over the years. True it might be a "thorn in the side" to many governmental entities, but few can deny that sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant. Here's a link to a timeline prepared by the Committee on Open Government, noting what's been happening, FOIL-wise, over the past two-score years.

October 23, 2014

Notice of JCOPE Open Forum

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics ("JCOPE") will be hosting an informal Open Forum with Agency Ethics Officers on potential modifications to the existing regulations governing Outside Activities. The forum will be on Thursday, October 30, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m at JCOPE's Albany office at 540 Broadway. If you cannot attend, there will be an online link for the forum. For more information, click here for the "eblast".

(Thanks to CAPS Member Mike Fallon for the heads up.)

September 16, 2014

Inspiration for the Public Service Lawyer

It's probably axiomatic that public service lawyers are by and large self-motivated. But even the most self-starting people sometimes need a little nudge to get them going past a particularly tough day. So for those dark and dreary days, here's a link to a TED talk that just may remind you why you're doing what you're doing - and be very glad for it. It's a presentation by Haben Girma. Ms. Girma was the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School. In this video, she applies her unique perspective as a Skadden Fellowship Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates to help remove access barriers for students with disabilities:


August 4, 2014

This Award Could Be for You!

If ever there was an award for readers of this blog, this must be it! The New York Law Journal is seeking "to recognize Lawyers Who Lead by Example, attorneys in our community who have made an outstanding contribution by providing free legal services to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers and/or who have devoted their time to public service in the form of improvement to the courts, the laws or the profession."

The announcement says that "candidates should have devoted a significant portion of their time to activities that benefit the public such as improvements in the administration of the courts, the law and the bar, legal and government institutions, and legal education. Examples include frequent bar leadership positions, long-time work on a task force or on a committee that recommended and implemented change; etc. The nominations for Lawyers Who Lead by Example are open to ALL members of the profession in New York, including solo practitioners, attorneys in firms large and small, in-house legal departments, academia, government and nonprofit agencies"

To find out more, go to: or click here.

The deadline for entries is August 7th. Good luck!

June 25, 2014

JCOPE Opens an Online Ethics Hotline

CAPS member Michael Fallon alerted us to a new online website for reporting government misconduct. It's an easy-to-use resource (literally "point and click") for alerting the State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) of "misconduct by State officials and employees, lobbyists and their clients, and others who fall under the jurisdiction of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics." Here's a link to a summary of this new reporting tool via the New York Lobbying, Ethics, and Compliance Law Compliance Blog by Hinman Straub P.C.

June 4, 2014

There Will Be No Government Takeover of "House of Cards"

Some would say it's a disappointing season finale. Maryland did not seize the property of the company producing the Netflix series, "House of Cards," which had been reported on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog as being considered a couple of months ago. There had been a state bill proposing to use the power of eminent domain to seize the production company's property unless the show continued to keep filming in the state. The CATO Institute reported on its blog that Maryland legislators killed the proposal in committee, however, but they also failed to extend tax subsidies to the show. So in some ways it's still a cliffhanger - will the show stay in Maryland, or is Frank Underwood conducting secret negotiations to move to another state? Stay tuned!

May 30, 2014

Going "Beyond the Billable Hour"

The Boston Bar Association has a great website for lawyers looking to do more than just bill hours. The title alone, "Beyond the Billable Hour," is a great invitation to lawyers seeking meaningful work. The website is labeled as a "one stop shop for everything public service." Check it out - it may inspire you to create a similar resource for your region.

May 27, 2014

Should Memorial Day be Moved?

What does Memorial Day mean to you? Here's a link to an interesting blog post from the National Constitution Center about the commemoration date's origin, and asking whether the day itself should change every year or be the same day every year in order to emphasize the original meaning of the day.

April 30, 2014

One Stop Shopping for Internships in NYC

For students seeking summer internships, take a look at this website, New York City's one-stop shopping place for finding great opportunities in the New York City vicinity. From the website:

The New York City Public Service Corps is the nation's first and largest off-campus internship program for college students. The Public Service Corps is dedicated to providing undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to serve their communities, build professional skills and learn about careers in the public sector. A Public Service Corps internship links meaningful community service experience with academic learning, personal growth, and civic responsibility. While students apply their classroom studies to the real world, community needs are met.

What a great idea for any municipality or other similar organization seeking to organize and attract the best talent pool during tough economic times, or anytime!

April 23, 2014

Seeking Outside the Box-ers

Are you one of those people that's embracing technology and using it in new and creative ways for your legal work? The ABA Journal has an interesting project underway, and it's seeking "legal rebels" who are "leveraging technology to create new tools for lawyers, broaden access to justice and legal services, and in some cases remake how law is practiced." Click here to find out more about the ABA Journal's 2014 Legal Rebels project.


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