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Message from the Incoming Environmental Law Section Chair, Michael J. Lesser


I have been afforded the honor and privilege of becoming the latest Chair of the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. I wish to begin by thanking the outgoing Chair, Terresa Bakner, for her patience and leadership in guiding our section. Specifically, Terresa has undertaken the less than glamorous tasks of restructuring our committee system, undertaking financial reform, improving diversity and reviving our membership efforts with great success. These goals will continue to be my objectives in the 2015-2016 term. In addition, improving section communications will be added to the list of imperitives.

In regards to these issues, I also wish to recognize and thank Carl Howard and Kevin Reilly, the past Chairs I have worked with in the section cabinet. All the recent section cabinets have recognized the need to aggressively address these important issues.

The incoming 2015-2016 officers also are committed to continue the pursuit of these goals. The new section officers will include: Larry Schnapf, Vice Chair; Kevin Bernstein, Treasurer; and, Marla Wieder, Secretary. Linda Shaw will be our delegate to the NYSBA House of Delegates. Past Chair Gail Port has also agreed to assist me as the Section Counsel. In addition, past section chair Phil Dixon will continue to be our liaison to our valued sponsors. Finally, our Diversity Committee co-chairs John Greenthal and Joan Leary Matthews will continue to assist the executive board with the improvement of our programs and membership efforts.

We are also fortunate to have hard working members who contribute to our various media outlets including: the Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Lawyer, Miriam Villani; Sam Capasso as the Editor of "Envirosphere" our section blog; and, Larry Schnapf in the new role of the section's LinkedIn and social media manager. I will also continue to act as the chief cook and bottle washer for the monthly "NY Environmental Enforcement Update" which is also edited by Sam Capasso and posted monthly on our blog.

Finally, I wish to warmly thank Lisa Bataille, Kathy Plog, Lori Nicoll, Vincent Titus and many others at NYSBA for past and future assistance with the operation of the section. Their participation and wisdom has been and continues to be simply indispensable.


Upcoming Section Events

To improve the quality of our services to section members, the cabinet and executive committee has determined that more frequent and varied programing is necessary. These themes will also enhance our membership and diversity efforts. In this regard, I have tasked incoming Vice Chair Larry Schnapf to improve our visibility in social media and other electronic and conference media such as webinars. This is not as easy as it sounds given the financial and administrative constraints of the bar association framework. But Larry remains resolute and he has already jump started our outreach and communication with members.

As an example, on April 1, 2015, more than seventy-five section members participated in a conference call arranged by the Brownfields Task Force regarding the new revised Brownfields Cleanup Program (BCP) statute. As of this writing (early April) the following statewide section events are or were scheduled for the remainder of 2015:

  • April 1 - BCP Update Webinar
  • April 14 - Annual Oil Spill Symposium
  • April 16 - Coastal Resiliency Summit at Tour Law School (Co-Sponsor)
  • May 6 - Legislative Forum: NY Water Legislation (Albany)
  • May 14 - NYSBA Section Leadership Conference (NYC)
  • May 20 - CLE, Survey, N.Y. Regulatory Enforcement Update (NYC)
  • June 24 - Section Executive Committee Planning Retreat (Poughkeepsie)
  • October 2 to 4 - CLE, Environmental Section Fall Meeting (Saratoga)
  • Buffalo Area Fall Law School Mixer (Date TBA)
  • January 25-30, 2016 - NYSBA Annual Meeting
  • January 29, 2016 - Environmental Law Section Annual Meeting

Please note that all future dates and locations are subject to change.


Section Resources (old and new)

As part of our section's themes of membership retention and new membership, this is a good place for members to inventory and take advantage of some of the tangible benefits of section membership. Let us start with the section's website function as a portal to further useful practice information. The Environmental Law Section homepage or website can be reached directly on the internet at: http://www.nysba.org/Environmental/ or indirectly via the NYSBA homepage at: http://www.nysba.org/. All of the following resources can be linked to via the section homepage.


The NY Environmental Lawyer (Online)

One of the section's underutilized secret treasures is the online availability of past issues of the section journal back to 2000. This resource can also be linked via the section's homepage. A word searchable index of the past issues is a key research feature of this resource. Note: direct access to the past issues is a member only benefit and requires a user ID and password (both available via prompts from NYSBA).


Legal Links

The section homepage can also be used to link and access a broad library of legal research and practice information (no password required).


Envirosphere - The ELS Blog

Blog Editor and fellow section member Sam Capasso has helmed our award winning blog since 2013. Among the innovations is the monthly NY Environmental Enforcement Update, a unique stand-alone multiple item blog post that is now in its third year. The blog can be accessed via the website or directly at: http://nysbar.com/blogs/environmental/. All blog items are key word searchable for research purposes. Please contact Sam Capasso if you have any questions or suggested posts at: samcapasso@gmail.com (no password required).


NY Environmental Enforcement Update 2013 Annual Report

The NY Environmental Enforcement 2013 Annual Report, is an outgrowth of the blog's Environmental Enforcement Update and is the first e-book approved and posted by the section. It is a free seventy-seven page download which can be reached from a link on the section homepage. It is also searchable via key word and by subject TAGS (no password required).


LinkedIn (Social Media)

Finally, we are proud to announce that in cooperation with NYSBA, the section has invaded social media via the internet based LinkedIn professional service. Despite the recent startup, over 100 section members have already availed themselves of this professional social media and communication service. A higher social media profile for the section will enhance our existing communications via section blast email and the old listserv technology. The section's LinkedIn site is open to section members only and can be accessed by contacting either Vice Chair Larry Schnapf at Larry@SchnapfLaw.com or NYSBA section liaison Lisa Bataille at Lbataille@NYSBA.org.com. It is also a good time to update or add your email address to the section's records by also contacting Lisa at NYSBA. Visit www.nysba.org/socialmedia for a full list of the New York State Bar Association's social media sites.


I hope this update gives you a glimpse into the dedication of your section officers and extended executive committee in bringing section members new and expanded services and programs. All of these activities will support our section goals of diversity, membership and financial reform. If you have any questions, suggestions or a notion to volunteer to help the section please do not hesitate to contact me at: mlesser@NYCAP.rr.com or (518) 452-5598. I look forward to meeting all of you at future section events.

- Michael Lesser, 2015-2016, Environmental Law Section Chair

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 19, 2015 9:35 AM.

The previous post in this blog was NY Environmental Enforcement Update, February 2015, # 2, Vol. II.

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