New York Women's Bar Association, 132 East 43rd Street, #716, The Chrysler Building, New York, NY, 10017-4019
Message from the President
Your Membership Matters

This is the time of year when we start counting our members. Most of our members renew in the late Summer and early Fall, and while at this point we are ahead of where we have been for the past few years, we are nowhere near having the number of members we had in the late 1990’s. Membership in the Association is how we are able to accomplish so much, and you may not realize that the number of delegates (i.e., votes) we have at our statewide sister organization, WBASNY, is determined by the number of members we have as of January 2004. If you have renewed, you are making a wonderful statement on behalf of women’s rights, and we thank you. If you have not yet renewed, we need you now!

One of the benefits of members is our wonderful programs and events. We are in the final stages of planning for three major events in November – our annual Membership Reception; the CLE-accredited Law Guardian Training Program that we are presenting on behalf of the Appellate Division, First Department; and the second in our Foundation’s special Breakfast Series Speakers Events.

The Membership Reception will be at on November 6, 2003, and we expect over 100 current, new and prospective members to attend. This was a terrific event last year, and it will be a great opportunity for networking. We will also honor our Foundation Fellows, who have made such a difference in the lives of so many women. Many thanks to Sheila Birnbaum and Skadden for hosting this event!

The Law Guardian Training Program scheduled for November 14, 2003 is also a real feather in the Association’s cap. Distinguished members of the bench and bar will present this all day CLE-accredited program on the challenges and responsibilities of serving as a law guardian for children in custody proceedings. The training has been specifically designed to meet not only the existing Standards for certification as a law guardian, but also the new Part 36 certification and re-certification requirements. We congratulate the Matrimonial Committee, and particularly Jo Ann Douglas, for their hard work, and to the Association for being selected by the First Department and OCA to present this important program.

The third major program scheduled in November is the NYWBA Foundation’s second “Breakfast Series” speaker’s event, which will feature renowned human rights advocate and author Kati Marton. This event is a wonderful way to hear amazing speakers in a more intimate venue, which promotes a meaningful exchange of ideas. Held at the Harvard Club in midtown, this event helps fund the Fellowship programs, which places students from area law schools with women’s support organizations such as InMotion (formerly Network for Women’s Services), Sanctuary for Families and the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights. This year, we are providing the additional opportunity for members to sponsor a deserving high school student to attend the event. I hope you will support the Foundation by joining us on November 19, 2003.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are proud to support the Judges and Lawyer’s Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA), which works so tirelessly on cutting edge issues in breast cancer detection, treatment and care. This year’s Ellen P. Hermanson Memorial Symposium, on October 2, 2003, was a tremendous success. The Honorable Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York, served as moderator, and medical experts, judges and attorneys discussed “Scientific Evidence in the Courthouse” and “The Patient’s Roadmap to Medical Privacy Under New York and Federal Law.”

JALBCA has also arranged for a mammography van to be available all day on November 18, 2003 at the Civil Courthouse, 111 Centre Street. Mammography is the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable, and there is no cost to women over 40 who have not had a mammography in the past year. Many NYWBA members have served on the JALBCA Board and as Presidents of JALBCA, and we are proud to support and co-sponsor their efforts.

We also had some wonderful news on the international front. First, the Association was asked by the U.S. Department of State to host a meeting with two very prominent attorneys from Malaysia. I can attest that it was a very exciting and enriching experience to meet with Petra Oon and Maureen Lind, two of the most important attorneys in their country and certain two of the most distinguished women in Malaysia. That Chief Judge Judith Kaye and WBASNY representatives were able to participate in the meeting made it all the more special.

We are also thrilled to report that on September 25, 2003, a Nigerian appeals court reversed the lower court rulings that had ordered that Amina Lawal be stoned to death simply because she bore a child more than 9 months after she and her husband divorced. NYWBA and WBASNY had passed resolutions condemning the stoning order, and we supported the efforts of the international community to persuade the Nigerian courts to overturn the ruling. The appellate court found that the original verdict did not meet many of the requirements of the Koran. While we would have like to have seen a broader ruling that this type of prosecution and punishment should never occur, we are grateful that the original, barbaric verdict was overturned.

Finally, I am pleased that our Committees, always the most vibrant part of our Association, are doing great. Our annual Committee Chairs meeting was held in October, and it was great to hear about the great work that is going on at the grass-roots level in our organization. Membership really does pay!

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