NYCLA, Home of Law

November 19, 2014



As President of NYCLA, I would like to welcome you to the Nanette Dembitz Lecture hosted by NYCLA’s Family Court and Child Welfare Committee. This is one of NYCLA’s groups dedicated to making New York City a better community for those who live here. The Committee, which concerns itself with legislation and substantive law, the conduct of the judiciary, and general matters regarding the Family Court, established this Lecture several years back to help do so.


These lectures have given the Committee a platform to encourage discussion around important topics related to the Family Court. Named for Judge Nanette Dembitz, a family court judge and NYCLA board member who was a staunch advocate for children’s rights, discussion has been spurred around issues such as “Same-Sex Marriages and Their Ramifications Under New York Family Law;” “The Effect of Budget Cuts on the New York City Family Court System;” “The Close to Home Initiative and its Effects on New York City’s Juvenile Justice System;” and “Domestic Violence in Teenage, Same-Sex and Elderly Relationships.”


Each Lecture has brought distinguished family court and child welfare attorneys and judges to NYCLA to speak on such important topics. This year’s lecture is no different. We are delighted to have here tonight speakers—who our Committee Chairs will introduce shortly—who have first-hand experience working with children impacted by the Indian Child Welfare Act. Enacted in 1978, it seeks to give trial governments a strong voice in child custody proceedings. Last year the United States Supreme Court issued only its second ruling interpreting ICWA, and already state court interpretations of that decision are raising concerns that the purpose of ICWA is being undermined, thus making it too easy for tribes and tribal members to lose their children to state custody.


You’ll leave tonight having learned more about ICWA, its role in the Family Court and the New York City Child Welfare System, and the perils of noncompliance.


I’d like to welcome Family Court and Child Welfare Committee Co-Chairs Erik B. Pinsonnault and Hari K. Singh to introduce our speakers and to tell you more about what’s ahead tonight. Both Erik and Hari are deeply involved in this area of law—Erik working as a Senior Appellate Court Attorney at the New York State Unified Court System and Hari with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. They have served as leaders of this Committee for the past year, organizing this event and bringing together those who serve this area of the law.


Finally, if you are not familiar with NYCLA, we are a community of nearly 9,000 attorneys, judges, academics, and law students. We offer professional networking opportunities, preferred pricing on CLE seminars and webinars, professional and personal development opportunities, an online Career Center, Committees, a library, publications, goods and services discounts, a members’ lounge and more. Historically, NYCLA has been one of the largest and most influential county bar associations in the country, and offers opportunities for members to grow their own careers, but to help society as a whole through our offering of pro bono opportunities. WE ARE THE OPEN, INCLUSIVE, PROGRESSIVE BAR ASSOCIATION. Whether you’re looking to take the next step in your career, dabble in a new area of law, make connections, or take on a pro bono case, I encourage you to visit our website,, to learn more about membership.