NEW YORK, July 3 (Reuters) - In May, Carey Dunne began a
two-year term as the 65th president of the New York City Bar Association, taking over the reins of the 23,000-member bar
group from outgoing president Samuel Seymour.
Dunne is the head of Davis Polk & Wardwell's litigation
practice and sits on the firm's three-member steering committee.
He joins a long list of Davis Polk partners to hold the city bar
presidency, including Allen Wardwell, John Davis and the firm's
founding partner, Francis Bangs.
Reuters sat down last week to catch up with Dunne. The
interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Reuters: You are just stepping into your new role. What
would you like to address?
Dunne: The first task force we'll put together will be
focused on new lawyers in a changing profession. I anticipate it
will be a blue-ribbon panel that will try to focus on the root
causes of the predicament many lawyers find themselves in. Is it
the fault of law schools' curriculums? Is it the result of
short-term economic conditions? Or is it a more fundamental
shift in the business of the profession?
Starting in 2013, all new admittees to the New York
state bar will have to complete 50 hours of pro bono work. The
proposal by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has received mixed
reviews. What's the city bar's take?
The bottom line is, we do support the initiative and
we're here to help develop ways to most effectively implement
the new rule and put it into practice. But all of the details
still need to be worked out.
If I'm running a legal services organization and I don't
have a lot of resources, and if you say here are 10 law students
who want to help, my first thought is going to be, who's going
to supervise them? We need to make sure the burdens of the new
rule don't fall unnecessarily ... on some of these organizations
that are already strapped for resources and supervision.
The biggest legal story so far this year has been
the fall of Dewey & Leboeuf. How has the city bar been reaching
out to those affected by the closure?
Dunne: We've offered to provide both the associates and
staff at Dewey job-hunting advice and similar resources. How
many people ... are still in need of that kind of help remains
to be seen -- as I understand, a good number of associates did
move with partners to other firms.
Has Dewey's fall provoked widespread panic among
members of the city bar?
Dunne: Other than hearing a lot of discussion and
speculation as to what actually caused this to happen, I haven't
heard specific concerns from people at different firms. What I
know about other firms doesn't cause me to think there's going
to be a domino effect here.
Many firms seem to be looking to break into Asian
markets like China and South Korea. How does New York City fit
The matters, the places, the transactions that used
to be housed entirely in New York or London now have elements in
other jurisdictions to the east.
I don't think New York is going to be diminished as a legal
hub. It just has to realize that it's no longer one of the only
centers of legal relevance to the commercial world.
Has the New York legal market fully emerged from
As you walk around the halls here and see the number
of lawyers attending our programs, you can't conclude that we've
emerged as a profession from the market recession. I think we
will, and I also think there have been fundamental changes that
will not be fully restored to how things were in 2007.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
(A prior version of this story stated that Carey Dunne is
the 66th president of the New York City Bar Association. He is
the 65th president.)
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