Main

Municipal Law Archives

February 11, 2011

Blogging About Muni's

For viewpoints and news of interest to those practicing in the NYS government context, check out the new blog called, NYMUNIBLOG, billed as a resource for "insights on issues facing New York State municipalities and agencies."   

February 24, 2011

Facebook Modifications for Munis

From the "if you can't beat them, join them" file, for those municipalities previously hesitant to use Facebook, there is one less hurdle in your way now.  Last month, Facebook entered into an agreement with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Social Media Legal Workgroup and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), revising its standard terms and conditions for state and local governments.  For a summary of the changes, check out this press release on NASCIO's website; and this link for the actual amended Facebook terms
[Thanks to the Local Open Government Blog - for Washington State practitioners - for the tip.  And if you find yourself visiting over on that blog, check out its summary of a fascinating NY Times story on how Sunshine laws are being used to fight corruption in India.]

March 2, 2011

Public Health Manual

For public health officials, it looks like the resource of the year was recently published by the NYSBA, along with the NY Unified Court System, and in collaboration with the NY State Department of Health and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  It's the New York State Public Health Legal Manual, (Michael Colodner, Editor-In-Chief), and it's available online right now.  According to NYSBA President Stephen P. Younger:

[I]t has become increasingly essential that public health officials,
judges and lawyers be prepared to deftly navigate the myriad statutes
and rules that govern public health disasters. This Manual, which is
the product of a collaborative effort, captures information gleaned from past disasters and will serve as a tremendous resource for future needs.

Even the New York Times commends the manual, calling it, "intensely practical, giving lawyers and judges a way to get through what would quite likely be chaotic days."

 

May 5, 2011

Plain Writing = Open Government


Can you imagine a world where every official document was written so that everyone could understand it? Imagine how nice it would be to never again come across a law -- or even a legal opinion -- that seemed to be written intentionally with the goal to obfuscate, rather than elucidate readers. (And yes, as you can see from that last sentence, big words don't necessarily frustrate readers - it's the bulky phrasing and endless sentences that produce the most confusion.) Well worry no more - the federal government has now promulgated The Plain Writing Act of 2010. While at first glance this could appear to be a joke, it actually at least tries to recognize the problem - even if it won't ever really fix it. Here's a link to the Federal Plain Writing Guidelines promulgated to aid government writers: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/bigdoc/TOC.cfm. So the next time you set yourself down to write a new law or regulation, or a legal brief, or even just a letter or email (notice no mention of texting), consider the reader's perspective and try to say it simply, say it plainly, and okay, we'll go there - just KISS it!* (And yes, extra credit to the reader who identifies the most violations of the guidelines in this entry. Just email: caps@nysba.org with your critiques.)


_____________________
*KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid ;-)

May 10, 2011

Oregon's Open - Especially on the Web


The State of Oregon has created a website for the public to access a variety of datasets and other information. Click here for a link to a news article about the website. It's fascinating just to glance at the different types of information available. But in addition to letting people view the available information, the website invites people to actually sort and create sets of information on their own. In fact, there's even a button to "suggest" new datasets. Although this is hardly a new idea (the White House has something similar, for example), it's nice to see this concept roll out to broader audiences.

Kudos to Half Hollow Hills East HS


We must give a special shout-out to Long Island's Half Hollow Hills East High School students for being recognized at the National "We the People" competition funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The students were honored recently for their excellence in the unit on "How the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices." Here's a link to the NYSBA's press release announcing the honor. If you've ever wanted a really rewarding volunteer/mentoring experience, contact your local high school and see if they're interested in getting involved with this competition. It will take but a little of your time, and you get back a ton of good feelings watching the students thrive while they learn about the basics of our government principals.

May 24, 2011

International Municipal Law Assignment


It's not quite the everyday assignment for a typical municipal lawyer, but it's probably something a good municipal lawyer can handle nevertheless. As the ABA Journal Online reports, Carl McGuire, counsel to various municipalities on behalf of a Colorado law firm, is shipping out to Afghanistan to counsel the Navy on various legal issues. Issues such as "contracts, employment issues, military discipline, ethics and the rules under which we will be able to defend ourselves. . . In large part," he reportedly told a local newspaper, "I will be responsible for telling the Seabees how we can defend ourselves, what weapons we can use to defend ourselves, and how we should interact with the Afghanis."

Just another day for a municipal lawyer?

June 14, 2011

NYCLA's New Leader with Old and New Priorities


It's that time of year, when local bar associations welcome new leaders and embark on new priorities. The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel online edition has a wide-ranging interview with Stewart D. Aaron, the new president of the New York County Lawyers' Association. It's refreshing to see one of the new initiatives includes a "Rapid Response Committee", which is tasked with protecting the independence of the judiciary. Click here for the full interview.

June 21, 2011

State Greases the Revolving Door


A big tip of our "CAPS" to one of the newest NYSBA CAPS members, Michael C. Fallon. Michael is a blogger in his own right, and he's just posted this very timely piece on his blog, N.Y. Lobbying, Ethics and Election Law Compliance. The entry relates to the State Legislature's recent approval of a bill which slightly relaxes the revolving door prohibition for state employees who were (or will be) laid off by the State between April 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012 from the "revolving door" prohibition. So check out the item, hot off the presses (as they used to say), and check out the rest of the blog while you're there.

July 18, 2011

Public Interest Jobs Bumped Up in Prestige Column


From the "silver lining" files, here's a story from the National Law Journal which reports that top law school students are clamoring to get into Public Interest law careers upon graduation. While that was always the case for a handful of prestigious government offices (Department of Justice, to name one), the prestige of a public interest career track is now apparently spreading farther and wider. Click here for the story.

July 29, 2011

Inherently Governmental Functions


Here's an interesting proposed policy reflecting the federal view of work that should be done by federal government employees, versus work that is more amenable to contracting-out. The paper is called, "Inherently Governmental Functions and Other Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees: The Obama Administration's Proposed Policy Letter." While this proposed policy interprets federal law specific on this subject, it's nevertheless helpful for those discussions undoubtedly engaging municipal administrators everywhere as the search for fiscal savings become more urgent.

August 15, 2011

Lifetime Bar Guidance - as of Today


If there's one topic of interest to just about every lawyer working in government, it must be the do's and don'ts of post-employment restrictions. Even lifetime government lawyers need to know what the restrictions are because they are often confronted with former government lawyers practicing before them as private sector representatives. For a heads-up on the latest pendulum swing, be sure to check out a recent entry on the New York Lobbying, Ethics and Election Law Compliance Blog, entitled, "CPI Changes Position on Lifetime Bar". As if the current political pendulum swings weren't enough, seems like the guidance on ethics compliance is undergoing similar uncertainty.

Thanks to CAPS committee member Michael Fallon for this news item.

October 19, 2011

NYPD Pensioners' Names Exempt from FOIL


The New York Law Journal noted in today's online edition a First Department decision which held that the names of all retired members of the New York City Police Pension Fund were exempt under FOIL. Because we can't link to the NYLJ story online (because subscriptions are required to read most of its articles),* below is the relevant part of the decision. Luckily, it's short:

The petition was properly denied. In Matter of New York Veteran Police Assn. v New York City Police Dept. Art. I Pension Fund (61 NY2d 659 [1983]), the Court of Appeals held that Public Officers Law ยง 89(7) exempts from disclosure both the names and addresses of retirees of the New York City Police Department receiving pensions and annuities. Thus, respondent correctly denied petitioner's FOIL request seeking the names of its retired members. Petitioner offers no persuasive argument distinguishing its FOIL request from that in Matter of New York Veteran Police Assn.

For the full opinion, here's a link to it on the First Department's website: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_07259.htm

*Note to NYLJ: Why not set your website up so blogs can link to stories without the subscription wall?

October 28, 2011

CAPS Award Honorees - Just Announced


The 2012 selections for the NYSBA Award for Excellence in Public Service have just been announced. And the honorees are:

Stephen G. Brooks, General Counsel to the New York State Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA) Fund of the State of New York (retired);
Bennett Liebman, Deputy Secretary to Governor Cuomo for Gaming and Racing;
Hon. Marian W. Payson
, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of New York; and
Carol Van Scoyoc, Chief Deputy Corporation Counsel, City of White Plains.

This NYSBA Award recognizes members of the legal profession for their commitment to, and performance of, public service. The Award is presented annually to individuals epitomizing that commitment to the highest and noblest calling afforded by the legal profession: to preserve and protect the public. The selected individuals' efforts demonstrate a commitment to service, honor and integrity. For the complete list of past recipients, click here.


This year's honorees will be presented with plaques at a reception during the 2012 NYSBA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, January 24, to be held from 5:30 to 7, in Sutton Parlor South, at the New York Hilton on Avenue of the Americas in New York City. More details will be forthcoming on the NYSBA website.

Hats off (or should we say "CAPS off") to this year's honorees!

(And a big thanks to CAPS member Donna M. Giliberto for providing the information to our blog readers so quickly!)

November 21, 2011

Opening Federal Government a Little Wider


We may be a little late to this party, but the federal government has been providing what appears to be wider and wider access to information in its possession. Click here to see all of the different types of information available from the main "Good Government" website. You can find a listing of excess federal properties, community health information, and information about the federal government's "revolving door" policies for federal employees - all from the home page. There's even a link to a press release about an upcoming initiative called "We the People" which will permit anyone to petition the federal government directly from the internet. All good ideas which seem at first blush anyway to be do-able even at the state and local levels.

January 2, 2012

CAPS (& NYSBA) Annual Meeting


If you're an attorney in public service, you don't want to miss this year's NYSBA Annual Meeting program for the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service. Educational programs are planned for the day on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, and the day is then "capped off" (pun intended) with the 2012 Awards for Excellence in Public Service, followed by a free award reception. The online brochure has all the details.

January 17, 2012

Providing Records for Open Meetings


Effective February 2, 2012, the public will have greater access to records discussed during open meetings. According to the COOG* website:

The purpose of the legislation is simple: those interested in the work of public bodies should have the ability, within reasonable limitations, to see the records scheduled to be discussed during open meetings prior to the meetings.

For the amendment to the statute, click here to see NY Public Officers Law Section 103(e).
For the long-form summary of the changes, click here.

*For those following this blog from its inception, you may remember the tip for finding the NY State Committee On Open Government's ("COOG") website just by typing into Google: COOG

January 23, 2012

Governmental Immunity for a Private Lawyer? [Update]


If you were interested in a story we published last fall about Filarsky v. Delia, which raises the question of whether a private attorney working for a municipality is entitled to governmental immunity, then you'll probably also be interested to know that the Supreme Court heard argument on this last week (January 18, 2012). The SCOTUS blog, (which incidentally - IMHO - is one of the best blogs out there!), has full coverage of this case, including a "plain English" summary of the issue, a link to the transcript of the oral argument and all of the briefs filed (including an amicus brief filed by the American Bar Association in support of immunity).

Certainly a decision for The CAPS Blog to watch!

February 22, 2012

2012 State of the State Judiciary


Through the magic of the Internet, you can watch (with multiple camera angles) Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivering his annual report on the State of the Judiciary, and explaining his primary legislative and administrative initiatives for the year. You can also avail yourself of a written version of the report, to read at your leisure.

Just to give you a preview of the relevance of this report to our CAPS committee members, take a look at the title of the topics noted in the table of contents:

I. RETHINKING JUVENILE JUSTICE
II. PREVENTING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS
III. ENHANCING INDIGENT LEGAL DEFENSE
IV. GUARANTEEING CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES
V. RESPONDING TO THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS
VI. REINVIGORATING THE COMMERCIAL DIVISION
VII. EXPANDING E-FILING

A worthwhile diversion in your busy day, at the very least.

April 18, 2012

Immunity for Private Lawyers Working for Municipalities [Update]


The Supreme Court has unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Filarsky v. Delia, a case involving the immunity status of private attorneys working for municipalities. As you may recall, we previously noted here on our CAPS Blog the Ninth Circuit's determination that that private attorneys were not entitled to the same qualified immunity privileges as government attorneys. The Supreme Court has now ruled that private counsel hired by municipalities are entitled to the same protections against lawsuits generally available to government lawyers. Here's a good recap of the underlying facts and the Supreme Court's decision from the New York Times.

April 25, 2012

Pathologically Committed


The Legal Skills Prof Blog has a thought-provoking entry on the types of people that are committed to nonprofit careers. Pointing to an article in the Harvard Business Review, Professor Louis J. Sirico ponders "why we do what we do, why we have made the financial choices we have." Although the entry is about nonprofit careers, it's potentially applicable in the legal public service career sector too.
For example, the Harvard Business article asks:

[W]hy would we choose to go into an industry where our compensation is not tied to our value? Where we are constantly told that there are not enough resources with which to fulfill our potential to make a difference? Why would we do that if I really do want to change things? And why would we choose to work on problems that are so intractable? What in our personalities draws us to frustratingly difficult -- perhaps unsolvable -- problems?
Aptly titled, "Nonprofit Pathology", its definitely worth a click to read more about the topic.

May 24, 2012

NOTE: June 14th Event To Be Rescheduled


Due to spring fever, or other excusable reasons, the June 14th ceremony honoring our 2012 Citation Winners is now postponed sine die. Stay tuned for information about re-scheduling.

If this is the first you're hearing about the event, here's what the announcement about the event said:

You Are Cordially Invited to Attend! Come celebrate the achievements of our 2012 Citation winners, Jonathan A. Darche, Esq. and Karen J. Freedman, Esq. Meet members of NYSBA's Committee on Attorneys in Public Service and colleagues. NYSBA members and non-members are welcome to attend. Here are the details:

Thursday, June 14, 2012 | 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
New York State Bar Association, Great Hall
One Elk Street, Albany, New York

RSVP by June 10th to: caps@nysba.org or 518.487.5571

2012 Citation Winners

Jonathan A. Darche, Esq.
Assistant District Attorney, Queens County District Attorney's Office
In addition to his duties as an assistant district attorney in the Narcotics Investigations Bureau of the Queens County District Attorney's office, for the past five years, Jonathan has volunteered his time to the Youth Court of Queens County. The Youth Court is an innovative program that helps two different sets of young people in Queens County. The program takes gifted and motivated high school students and gives them comprehensive instruction in legal theory and practical courtroom skills by working with legal practitioners. Once they have "graduated," the student-lawyers are assigned cases involving children diverted from family court. These "defendants" are represented by student lawyers who are advised by attorneys donating their time, but when the trial occurs, the student-lawyers are on their own. From case to case, the student-lawyers switch roles from prosecutor, to defense attorney, to judge. Most importantly, the student-lawyers often serve as role models for the "defendants." It is always a proud moment when a former defendant enrolls in the program to become a "student-lawyer." Jonathan serves as instructor to the students when they are getting their initial training and advises student lawyers during their cases. In addition to his work with the Youth Court, Jonathan also participates in STARTrack, an outreach program dedicated to educating at risk youths about the risks of gun violence.

Karen J. Freedman, Esq.

Executive Director, Lawyers For Children
Karen J. Freedman is the founder and Executive Director of Lawyers For Children Inc. Since founding LFC 28 years ago, Ms. Freedman has created several projects at LFC to serve particularly vulnerable young people in the foster care system. These include initiatives on behalf of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning youth, young people who have been sexually abused, children living in homes where domestic violence is present, youth aging out of foster care, youth in care who suffer from mental illnesses, young people in foster care who require specialized educational advocacy, and immigrant youth in foster care. In addition, LFC has participated in several important class action cases on behalf of youth in foster care and maintains a division of LFC devoted exclusively to impact litigation and child welfare policy. Before establishing LFC, Ms. Freedman was a staff attorney with the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society and a Law Clerk in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Freedman received her BA from Wesleyan University and her JD from New York University School of Law where she was a Root Tilden Scholar and a Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.

Covering Marriage Equality: A Look Back
Presented by Casey Seiler and Jimmy Vielkind, Times Union

Casey and Jimmy will bring us front and center during the hectic final weeks of the 2011 session -- specifically the battle over marriage equality -- to explain how they and their Capitol colleagues responded to this rapidly changing national story, and how it felt to be in the Capitol as individuals with widely divergent viewpoints kept vigil -- with chants and songs -- during the historic debate.
Presenters

Casey Seiler
Times Union state editor and columnist Casey Seiler joined the 'New York NOW' team in 2009. Casey previously served as the paper's entertainment editor. In 2011 he was awarded the Hearst Eagle Award, the highest recognition for an employee in the Hearst Corporation.

Before arriving in Albany in 2000, Seiler worked at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont and the Jackson Hole Guide in Wyoming.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Seiler is a Buffalo native who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Albany's Pine Hills.

Jimmy Vielkind
Jimmy Vielkind covers politics from the Capitol, finding the fun in dysfunction in print and at the Capitol Confidential blog. He is also a contributor to WMHT's New York NOW and CapitalNewYork.com.

Vielkind has been watching state government since 2008, first for the New York Observer and then for the Times Union. He previously covered breaking news and police as the Times Union's night-time reporter.

Vielkind has a degree in urban planning from Columbia University and, as a Clifton Park native, loves working for the paper he grew up reading. He now lives in Albany.

NYSBA Committee on Attorneys in Public Service
Catherine Christian, chair
Terri Egan and Donna Giliberto, Award co-chairs
Donna Giliberto, Event chair

June 19, 2012

Government as Enabler (in a good way!)


Here's a link to a post, "A Government Program That Could Improve the Economy," from David Pogue (the tech savant/writer extraordinaire for the New York Times), about how the federal government is nudging its agencies to help app developers get more information out to the masses. According to the post, "[t]he ultimate idea behind all of this, says the Obama administration, is to inspire a burst of innovation, apps, development, small businesses and jobs."

Sounds like something that should trickle down to local governments too. Any of our readers have similar efforts in the pipeline?

July 12, 2012

A Blog Entry About New York Blogs


If you're looking for some "under the radar" legal research, sometimes blogs may be helpful. Here's a link to the New York Public Personnel Law's blog entry listing 274 blogs that are out there dealing in some way or another with New York law. I'm not sure why this CAPS blog didn't make the list, but we'll keep trying!

September 5, 2012

Don't Forget to RSVP to the 9-19-2012 Event in NYC


Come celebrate the achievements of our 2012 Citation winners, Jonathan A. Darche, Esq. and Karen J. Freedman, Esq. Meet members of NYSBA's Committee on Attorneys in Public Service and colleagues. NYSBA members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. New York County Lawyers' Association 14 Vesey Street New York, NY 10007

RSVP by September 12, 2012 to: caps@nysba.org or 518.487.5571

Jonathan A. Darche, Esq.
Assistant District Attorney, Queens County District Attorney's Office
In addition to his duties as an assistant district attorney in the Narcotics Investigations Bureau of the Queens County District Attorney's office, for the past five years, Jonathan has volunteered his time to the Youth Court of Queens County. The Youth Court is an innovative program that helps two different sets of young people in Queens County. The program takes gifted and motivated high school students and gives them comprehensive instruction in legal theory and practical courtroom skills by working with legal practitioners. Once they have "graduated," the student-lawyers are assigned cases involving children diverted from family court. These "defendants" are represented by student lawyers who are advised by attorneys donating their time, but when the trial occurs, the student-lawyers are on their own. From case to case, the student-lawyers switch roles from prosecutor, to defense attorney, to judge. Most importantly, the student-lawyers often serve as role models for the "defendants." It is always a proud moment when a former defendant enrolls in the program to become a "student-lawyer." Jonathan serves as instructor to the students when they are getting their initial training and advises student lawyers during their cases. In addition to his work with the Youth Court, Jonathan also participates in STARTrack, an outreach program dedicated to educating at risk youths about the risks of gun violence.

Karen J. Freedman, Esq.
Executive Director, Lawyers For Children
Karen J. Freedman is the founder and Executive Director of Lawyers For Children Inc. Since founding LFC 28 years ago, Ms. Freedman has created several projects at LFC to serve particularly vulnerable young people in the foster care system. These include initiatives on behalf of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning youth, young people who have been sexually abused, children living in homes where domestic violence is present, youth aging out of foster care, youth in care who suffer from mental illnesses, young people in foster care who require specialized educational advocacy, and immigrant youth in foster care. In addition, LFC has participated in several important class action cases on behalf of youth in foster care and maintains a division of LFC devoted exclusively to impact litigation and child welfare policy. Before establishing LFC, Ms. Freedman was a staff attorney with the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society and a Law Clerk in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Freedman received her BA from Wesleyan University and her JD from New York University School of Law where she was a Root Tilden Scholar and a Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.

Covering Marriage Equality: A Look Back
Presented by Casey Seiler and Jimmy Vielkind, Times Union

Casey and Jimmy will bring us front and center during the hectic final weeks of the 2011 session -- specifically the battle over marriage equality -- to explain how they and their Capitol colleagues responded to this rapidly changing national story, and how it felt to be in the Capitol as individuals with widely divergent viewpoints kept vigil -- with chants and songs -- during the historic debate.
Presenters

Casey Seiler
Times Union state editor and columnist Casey Seiler joined the 'New York NOW' team in 2009. Casey previously served as the paper's entertainment editor. In 2011 he was awarded the Hearst Eagle Award, the highest recognition for an employee in the Hearst Corporation.

Before arriving in Albany in 2000, Seiler worked at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont and the Jackson Hole Guide in Wyoming.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Seiler is a Buffalo native who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Albany's Pine Hills.

Jimmy Vielkind
Jimmy Vielkind covers politics from the Capitol, finding the fun in dysfunction in print and at the Capitol Confidential blog. He is also a contributor to WMHT's New York NOW and CapitalNewYork.com.

Vielkind has been watching state government since 2008, first for the New York Observer and then for the Times Union. He previously covered breaking news and police as the Times Union's night-time reporter.

Vielkind has a degree in urban planning from Columbia University and, as a Clifton Park native, loves working for the paper he grew up reading. He now lives in Albany.

NYSBA Committee on Attorneys in Public Service
Catherine Christian, chair
Terri Egan and Donna Giliberto, Award co-chairs
Donna Giliberto, Event chair

September 27, 2012

Friending Judges


The Adjunct Law Prof blog has an interesting summary of a recent appellate court opinion in Florida which held that a defendant's motion to disqualify a trial judge was legally sufficient to require disqualification where the trial judge was a Facebook friend with the prosecutor assigned to the case. What other consequences arise from the use of social media by public service attorneys and judges? Seems like a new set of landmines just waiting to be discovered by the unwary. Starting now,* we'll try to keep a lookout for some of the more provocative developments for our loyal readers of this CAPS blog. In the meantime, tread carefully before leaping into the quagmire!

*As you can see on the lower right of your screen, we've added a new category called "Social Media" to try and group these stories into one convenient click.

October 11, 2012

Looking for Award-Worthy People


CAPS is seeking nominees for its 2013 Award for Excellence in Public Service, which is presented annually to members of the legal profession who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to serving the public.

All lawyers active in government service or related public service are eligible for nomination. Recommendations should be based on the nominee's outstanding commitment to and performance of public service and may recognize individual attorneys or the collective work of attorneys in an office during the past year or over the course of a career. The award will be presented on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at the New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in New York City.

Nominations must be submitted by using the nomination form located at www.nysba.org/capsaward

Nomination forms and any supporting documentation must be sent no later than Friday, October 19, 2012, to:

Megan O'Toole
Membership Services
One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207
caps@nysba.org
Phone: 518-487-5743
Fax: 518-487-5579

More information on the Excellence in Public Service Award and a listing of past recipients may be found at www.nysba.org/capsaward.

October 19, 2012

Is a Public Service Career Worth It?


The ABA Journal poses the question, "Are Public Interest, Public Sector Careers Worth Law School Cost?"

The article references a National Association for Law Placement ("NALP") salary study finding that public interest and public sector salaries have shown little growth since 2004. NALP calls the study's findings evidence of a "significant economic disincentive" for law students to pursue careers in the public sector. With such slow growth on the salary side weighing against the continuing escalation of law school tuition and resulting long term loan debt, students interested in public interest careers may be thinking a bit more carefully about going to law school.

What do you think about the cost/balance of law school - was it worth it for you? Whether you are a recent graduate or a long time public servant, all perspectives would be interesting. Email your opinion to us at caps@nysba.org and we may update this blog with some of the comments received at a later date. In the meantime, take a look at the comments being posted on the ABA Journal's blog for some very good food for thought.

UPDATE: The NYSBA isn't sitting on the sidelines here - it is taking steps to alleviate some of the burdens. It has just announced grants to help people who are working in public interest or government law for at least five years. For the details of this program, click here for the press release and more information.

March 28, 2013

Jump Starting a Public Service Career


A recent entry on the always informative New York Public Personnel Law Blog highlights New York's Empire State Fellows Program. According to the website about this program, it's "designed to attract talented professionals with demonstrated leadership potential who want to refocus their careers on public service." There's a full FAQ on the state website, which explains that the fellowship is intended to "jump-start the policy-making careers of individuals who have demonstrated substantial accomplishments early in their professional careers." The deadline to apply for this year is 11:59 p.m. on April 12, 2013 so if you're interested -- or know someone who is -- check this out quickly!

April 11, 2013

Gaining Wisdom From the Past

"Some of the best lessons we ever learn, we learn from our mistakes and failures. The error of the past is the success and wisdom of the future." (Tyron Edwards 1809)

The NYMUNIBLOG has a nice summary of a recent conference held about lessons learned after Superstorm Sandy. There's an interesting cautionary conclusion about not "fighting the last war," and not just preparing for risks previously experienced, because future storms may not look anything like Sandy. Perhaps not so coincidentally, there's a recent prediction for an above-average hurricane season on the Atlantic coast.

April 30, 2013

Treating Out-of-State FOIA Requesters Differently


The ABA Journal Online has an interesting summary of the recent Supreme Court decision, McBurney v. Young, which permits Virginia to treat out-of-state residents seeking records via its Freedom of Information law differently than in-staters. The Supreme Court's decision concludes with this holding: "Because Virginia's citizens-only FOIA provision neither abridges any of petitioners' fundamental privileges and immunities nor impermissibly regulates commerce, petitioners' constitutional claims fail."
For the article, click here. For the full decision, click here.

May 2, 2013

Mandatory Pro Bono Disclosure - Will Your Public Service Count?


The New York Law Journal has reported that Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that as of May 1, 2013 - this year's Law Day - all attorneys registering in New York State are now required to disclose how many pro bono hours they worked during the prior reporting year, or how much money they donated to pro bono programs. There's a detailed FAQ on the court system's website with additional information and various links concerning the requirement. As for the type of work encompassed by the term "pro bono" the official announcement stated:

Pro bono services covered by section 118.1(e)(14) are those personally provided without expectation of receiving a fee; services billed to a client but left unpaid are not included and should not be reported. Attorneys "retired" from the practice of law as defined in section 118.1(g), or employed by an organization primarily or substantially engaged in the provision of pro bono legal services, may choose not to report pro bono service or financial contributions.
Email us at caps@nysba.org and let us know what you think about this new requirement, and whether you think it is, or should be, separate and apart from public service lawyers' daily work. We will only publish responses that give us permission to do so.

May 13, 2013

CAPS is Seeking Nominations for Public Service Citation


The CAPS Committee is seeking nominations for its annual Citation for Special Achievement in Public Service. This citation is presented to public service attorneys or a public service law office in recognition of a unique or special achievement, which may include leadership of a particular project or initiative, or making a key contribution in connection with a project or initiative. The 2013 Citation will be presented in September. Presentation of the citation will also be announced in the New York State Bar News, on the CAPS website, and in the NYSBA's Government, Law & Policy Journal.

Nominations for the 2013 Citation for Special Achievement in Public Service must be submitted by Friday, June 21, 2013. To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination form and email or mail it to:

Megan O'Toole
Manager, Membership Services
New York State Bar Association
One Elk Street
Albany, NY 12207
e-mail: caps@nysba.org
For more information: 518-487-5743

June 27, 2013

New State Open Government Guidelines

The always informative New York Personnel Law blog has a recent entry summarizing Governor Andrew Cuomo's provisional open data guidelines intended to increase transparency among state agencies. You can access the "provisional handbook" by clicking here.

October 1, 2013

Recent Environmental Reports Available Online


The Pace Law School Library Blog has an extensive roundup of recent environmental-related research reports published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a public policy research arm of Congress.

NB: Hopefully this note will be outdated quickly, but so long as the federal government is (temporarily) shut down, some of the links and materials may not be accessible.

About Municipal Law

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to CAPS in the Municipal Law category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Legal Practice is the previous category.

Open Government is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.