Battery Gardens

New York, New York

May 17, 2019


Good Afternoon.


It’s my privilege to welcome all of you to our Annual Law Day Luncheon which is sponsored by the Supreme Court Committee.


This luncheon is one of the most special events on the NYCLA calendar every year and this year it is a sell out.


An important reason for that is the great turn-out we always get from the bench.


I’d like to ask all of the Judges in the room to please stand so we can thank you for being here today and express our appreciation for all you do for NYCLA and the administration of justice.


Everyone please join me in a round of applause.


Congratulations to Associate Justice Jeffrey Oing of the Appellate Division, First Department on receiving the prestigious Capozzoli Gavel.


And a warm welcome to Deputy Chief Administrative Judge George Silver who is here today to present the Gavel to Justice Oing.


Congratulations also to the 4 Judges we honor today for 25 years of distinguished service: Justice Eileen Bransten, Justice Sherry Klein Heitler, the Statewide Chief of Policy and Planning and a former Capozzoli Gavel winner, Justice Faviolo Soto and Associate Justice Troy Webber of the Appellate Division, First Department.


Great events like this luncheon don’t just happen, they are the result of a lot of planning and hard work by many people so please join me in thanking the Co-chairs of the Supreme Court Committee, Craig Kesch and Russell Morris, the members of the Luncheon Committee and the outstanding NYCLA staff led by Executive Director Sophia Gianacoplos for all of their efforts in organizing this luncheon.


Today we are celebrating the 61st anniversary of Law Day and ordinarily I would devote my remarks to this year’s Law Day theme – Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society – but instead I plan to rest on the papers, in this case my printed message in the Law Day Journal, and instead talk briefly about NYCLA and our plans for the future.


As many of you know, it’s been a very exciting and eventful period at NYCLA.


Last month our Board of Directors unanimously approved the relocation of NYCLA’s headquarters to 28 Liberty and the sale of our current building, subject to the approval of the NYS Attorney General, which is underway.


We hope to be able to move into our new space in early 2020.


The decision to move to a new home was the culmination of a carefully thought out and deliberative process that began at NYCLA in 2016.


At the outset, with the guidance of our architects from Gensler, we engaged in an extensive “visioning” exercise to get input from a broad cross-section of leaders and staff on what an optimal space for NYCLA would look like and we developed a program for our future space and the activities we planned to conduct.


Our focus was on the needs of our members, today and tomorrow, which obviously had changed a great deal since our current building was dedicated in May 1930.


Armed with that vision, we then set out to investigate our real estate options.


Over the past 2 years we have devoted a substantial amount of time to exploring all of our options, visiting properties,working with real estate advisors, architects, lawyers, studying financial models and test fits of space.


A team of leaders toured more than 30 different properties in search of a new home for NYCLA; the space we ultimately decided on at 28 Liberty was far and away our first choice.


In our new home, NYCLA’s members and staff will benefit from state of the art technology, including new computers and video monitors.


And while we will have a lot more virtual capability than we do now we will continue to be a full-service bar association.


That was very important to us.


We plan to have a multi-purpose room that can accommodate large gatherings or be divided into smaller spaces.

We will have a modern library; conference rooms that our members can use and where committee meetings can be held; improved furnishings; lots of windows and natural light; great views.


Our staff will have new working spaces that are more conducive to collaboration.


It will be exactly the kind of 21st Century home for NYCLA that we envisioned at the outset.


And our new home is in a great building that has been completely upgraded and renovated with millions of dollars of improvements and amenities and it is convenient to transportation and the courts.


All in all, a very big step forward for the Association, its members and staff that positions NYCLA for long-term continued success.


Of course, selling the building that we have called home for 89 years is bittersweet.


There is a lot of history and many wonderful memories in that building.


But the inescapable fact is that the existing building, as special and wonderful a resource as it once was, was no longer the right fit for the Association or its members and much too much time and money was being diverted to the maintenance and operation of the building instead of our mission.


By selling the building we will be able to create a much more effective space for today’s lawyers, we will put NYCLA on a much sounder financial footing for years to come and allow future leaders and staff to focus on the interests of our members and the mission of the Association.


And we know that the true significance of NYCLA is about more than any building or room.


Charles Evans Hughes, probably our most famous and accomplished President, put it this way in a message that was delivered on the day 14 Vesey was dedicated in May 1930:


“As books and office furniture do not make a
lawyer, so a library and reception halls do not
make a bar association.”


The true significance of NYCLA lies in the programs, activities and events like this luncheon that we undertake, the welcoming and inclusive culture that has always been important to NYCLA and the Members and Staff who make NYCLA such a special community.


All of that will be moving with us to 28 Liberty along with the cherished memories of the past.


So, there’s still a lot of work to be done but we are very excited about the next chapter at NYCLA and we look forward to welcoming all of you to our new home, hopefully well before the next Law Day luncheon.


Now I’m going to turn the program back over to Craig Kesch.

Thank you for coming and please enjoy lunch and the rest of the program.