March 11, 2015

JCOPE Gift Guidance

For a quick summary of the state ethics code gift restrictions, JCOPE has published this handy-dandy guide-at-a-glance on the restrictions.

January 29, 2015

Why the Gender Difference in Local Government Leaders?

The International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. recently published this interesting analysis entitled, "Women Leading Government - Why So Little Progress in 30 Years?" The article looks at the numbers and discusses various theories of why women are under-represented (at least statistically) in leading local governments. This article is of course pertinent to entities well beyond municipalities, but its especially remarkable in the "public service" context where, at least according to conventional wisdom, workforces are generally more diverse.

January 16, 2015

Law "In the Spirit of Public Service"

Who practices law "in the public service?" According to this inspiring speech given by SEC Chair Mary Jo White at the Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting earlier this month, all lawyers have an ethical responsibility to provide client services 'in the public interest' in furtherance of a "safe, fair and just society." Commissioner White explained that when rendering advice, all lawyers should consider the public's welfare in addition to the interests of their private clients. Although the speech was geared to legal educators, it's a good reminder that practicing law in the service of the public is a duty every lawyer has, not just those practicing in a government or non-profit context.

December 30, 2014

Are These Really the "Worst Policy Ideas of 2014?"

If you believe that the best way to move forward is to learn from history, make sure you take a look at the Washington Post's blog post called, 11 of the Worst Policy Ideas of 2014. You may not agree that they were all bad ideas, but you should know that someone else thinks they were, just in case you know of some policy-makers who are thinking about moving forward with the same ideas. Happy New Year to all of our CAPS readers!

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!


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