NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - More than 5,000 lawyers
are expected to attend the New York State Bar Association's
annual meeting this week, where panelists will tackle thorny
issues ranging from the impact of state budget cuts on the court system to the challenges of providing adequate legal counsel to
Prominent speakers at the conference, which kicks off
Monday, include American Bar Association President William
Robinson III, who stirred up controversy earlier this month when
he suggested that law school graduates should have known the job
market would be depressed when they enrolled, and the state's
top administrative judges, who will address the negative impact
of $170 million in cuts to the judiciary's 2011-12 budget.
"I think the last year, for lawyers who are practicing in
the state, really has been dominated by seeing how the courts
have adapted to the budget cuts," said Vincent Doyle, the state
bar association's president. He said the group would call for
the legislature to pass the court system's proposed $2.3 billion
budget for fiscal year 2013 without any further spending cuts.
The conference begins Monday afternoon with a discussion of
the legal issues surrounding online publishing, including the
changing contract negotiations between publishers and authors.
Other panels include discussions of hacking and the
intellectual property risks associated with cloud computing, the
unique aspects of New York real estate law, representation of
charities, and tax reform.
On Wednesday, the budget reductions will take center stage
when former state Chief Judge Judith Kaye is scheduled to
moderate a discussion of the cuts that were imposed by the
governor and state legislature last year as part of a larger
effort to balance the budget.
QUALITY LEGAL REPRESENTATION
The state bar association last week released a report
chronicling the negative impact of the cuts, which it said have
caused pervasive delays, decreased access for indigent
litigants, and overburdened court dockets and judges. The New
York County Lawyers Association reached similar conclusions in
its own report.
Doyle said he was concerned about the level of funding for
legal services for impoverished litigants, a topic that will be
addressed by several panels.
"There's a great unmet legal need for civil legal services
for poor people," he said. "Our current efforts to address that
really aren't satisfying the need."
Wednesday's "presidential summit" also will focus on
the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Padilla v. Kentucky,
which held that defense lawyers must inform their clients about
the immigration consequences of a guilty plea. A panel will
discuss the implications of the ruling and ways to provide
quality legal representation in immigration cases.
(Reporting By Joseph Ax)
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