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.

March 31, 2014

Judges and Social Media

It's hardly "news" that the legal profession generally is struggling to find ways to use social media for enhancing legal practice. And there certainly has been lots of virtual ink spilled over the issue of judges using social media. What's new and interesting in this recent article posted on is the perspective about these issues from Ira Warshawsky, a well-respected and recently retired state court judge. So what's his judgment on judges using social media? He recommends that judges "play it safe" and stay away from it.

March 17, 2014

Public Service Law Pays in Happiness Dividends

It's probably no surprise to readers of this blog, but now it's confirmed. As reported in the ABA Journal Law News Now, a recent Florida State University University College of Law survey found that lawyers in "prestige" jobs, who had the highest grades and incomes, aren't as happy as lawyers working in public-service jobs for substantially lower pay. (By the way, the survey found that judges were happiest of all.) Who says public service doesn't pay?

January 29, 2014

Court of Appeals Judge Victoria Graffeo Receives State Bar's Excellence in Public Service Award

From the NYSBA press release:

ALBANY, NY (01/29/2014)(readMedia)-- Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo, senior associate judge of the Court of Appeals, is the 2014 recipient of the Excellence in Public Service Award, given by the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Attorneys in Public Service.

The award recognizes public sector attorneys who demonstrate a "higher calling" by an extraordinary commitment to service, honor and integrity. Graffeo received her award on January 28 at the State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Manhattan.

"Judge Graffeo's career has spanned all three branches of state government and exemplified excellence at every turn. She has improved the lives of New Yorkers through her work and decisions," said Catherine A. Christian of New York City (assistant district attorney, New York County), chair of the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service. "She is a model public servant and epitomizes the best values of the legal profession."

Graffeo, who has spent most of her career in public service, has served on the Court of Appeals since 2000. She previously was an associate justice of the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court, Third Department, and a justice of the state Supreme Court, Third Judicial District.

She began her career in private practice and later became assistant counsel to the New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. She later served as chief counsel to the Assembly Minority Leader. In 1995, she was appointed New York State Solicitor General.

Graffeo earned her undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Oneonta and her law degree from Albany Law School. She resides in Voorheesville.

The 75,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.