Brooklyn Bar Assoc. Hosts New Appellate Justices
Legal Business | 2008/02/26 22:51
The Brooklyn legal community will look on with understandable pride on March 19, when the Brooklyn Bar Association, led by President Rose Ann C. Branda, holds a special reception in honor of the newly appointed associate justices of the Appellate Division, Second Department.

Sharing the spotlight when the event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. at 123 Remsen St. will be Associate Justices Ariel E. Belen, Cheryl Chambers and John Leventhal — of Brooklyn — and Randall T. Eng of Queens.

Serving as co-sponsors are the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

While there is no charge for the event, due to the “generosity of the co-sponsoring associations,” BBA Executive Director Avery Eli Okin strongly advises that those planning to attend RSVP by mail, call (718) 624-0657 ext. 213 or e-mail him at no later than Friday, March 14.

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Inn President Finkelstein Seeks ‘Newer’ Lawyers
Now in its seventh successful year, the Nathan R. Sobel Kings County American Inn of Court has acquired a reputation for enhancing the quality of legal education and raising the positive profile of the profession. And now Inn officers, led by President Steve Finkelstein, want to do more.

Well-placed sources within the Inn — which continues a tradition established 800 years ago by English Inns of Court — have sent out word that the organization is about to embark on a program calculated to bring in lawyers who are newer to the practice of the law.

One report indicates the Inn may be establishing guidelines with “enhancements which would give special consideration to lawyers who have been admitted for fewer than five years.” This initiative is “in the works” and those interested — especially newer barristers — should contact President Finkelstein and his officers: President Elect Justice Neil Jon Firetog, Counselor Helene Blank, Treasurer Justice Gerard Rosenberg, Secretary Rosario Marquis D’Apice.

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Many of us, especially Baby Boomers and beyond, have deep doubts about the security of the Internet. When our computer demands we supply “Social Security Number,” “Date And Place of Birth” or “Spouse’s Birth Date,” for instance, we invariably hesitate to share this information whether buying airline tickets or paying a magazine subscription bill on-line.

Some of us are fortunate to have children or nieces or nephews who are skilled in these modern cyberspace marvels. And we call on them with shameless regularity. But few parents have the advantage enjoyed by Kings Justice Martin Schneier and wife Rebecca — when they want to know about cutting-edge maximum security for any possible computer entry decisions, all they have to do is call their son, Bruce Schneier. Any concerns they have will be immediately and expertly allayed.

Who is Bruce Schneier? I first learned of his lofty ranking in his field while reading “The Da Vinci Code” a few years back and came across this paragraph: “Da Vinci had been a cryptography pioneer, Sophie knew, although he was seldom given credit. Sophie’s university instructors, while presenting computer encryption methods for securing data, praised modern cryptologists like Zimmerman and Schneier but failed to mention that it was Leonardo who had invented one of the first rudimentary forms of public key encryption centuries ago.”

Aware that the Schneiers had a son who had written articles and books about computers, the Da Vinci book comment ultimately sent us to Google and Wikipedia for Bruce Schneier. The results of the easy search are impressive, to say the least.

At 44, he is now a world-renowned author, regularly appears on National Public Radio to explain his complex area of expertise and is best known perhaps for “Applied Cryptography,” described as a “popular reference work for cryptography.”

He first gained prominence with his 2000 book “Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World.” Schneier isn’t afraid of controversy in search of the truth and rocked his technical world when, according to Wikipedia, he denounced his “early success as a naive, mathematical and ivory tower view of what is inherently a people problem.”

In “Applied Cryptography,” he implies that correctly implemented algorithms and technology promise safety and secrecy, and that following security protocol ensures security, regardless of the behavior of others,” according to Wikipedia. While some of this may seem highly academic and theoretical, the same can be said of so much of the discussion swirling around the use and abuse of computer security.

And when NPR and various government agencies have questions on the topic, they don’t hesitate to consult the work of Bruce Schneier which is updated in a new book with Neils Ferguson entitled “Practical Cryptography.”

On the more mundane side, author Schneier and his wife, Karen Cooper, write restaurant reviews for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other papers in Minnesota where they live. You should also know that Justice Schneier, who just happens to have an entire shelf of his son’s books in his 360 Court St. chambers, and his wife Rebecca, are understandably equally proud of their daughter Arlene Katz, a John Jay College graduate who is likely on her way to a distinguished career in the legal profession.

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RFLA To Hear From Expert On ‘Putin Era’ in Russia
Arthur Gerwin, president of the Respect for Law Association, let it be known that he is particularly “pleased” that international affairs expert Paul M. Joyal will be the guest when the RFLA holds its March 20 Speakers Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at Mutual of America headquarters, 320 Park Ave. in Manhattan.

Joyal, vice president and managing director of National Strategies Inc., is, according to Pres. Gerwin, “well-versed in the former Soviet Union, Russia in the Putin era [and post] terrorism and counter-terrorism. This [breakfast session] will be a must for all concerned with the mounting sensitivities between Putin’s Russia and the U.S.A.,” writes Gerwin, a retired brigadier general and founder of the RFLA.

Joyal earlier served as a federal law enforcement officer and as director for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1980 to 1989. In 1998, he represented the Georgian government — which is often at odds with the Putin Administration — before the U.S. Congress as its first lobbyist in this country.

He also served as advisor of the Georgian Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee and is clearly in a position to impart some interesting insights on the “Putin Era” when he appears before the RFLA on March 20.

PRO BONO BARRISTER is a weekly column dedicated to telling about the good that lawyers do. Send your comments or suggestions to this writer care of this newspaper or to

Notice: Readers seeking legal representation on a Pro Bono Publico basis should not contact this columnist. Rather, they should seek out the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project at (718) 624-3894.

Bar association moving to first permanent location
Headline Legal News | 2008/02/23 03:25

The Hillsborough County Bar Association will hold a grand opening for its new offices on Feb. 27.

The Chester H. Ferguson Law Center, a 17,000-square-foot facility located at 1610 N. Tampa St. and adjacent to Stetson University's College of Law in Tampa, is will be the bar association's first permanent location. It will contain administrative offices for the bar association and the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation, meeting rooms for continuing legal education programs, a lounge, mediation rooms and a ballroom.

Founded in 1896, the Hillsborough County Bar Association has more than 3,700 members and is the largest voluntary bar association in the Florida.

Virginia Bar president considers attorney trust audits
Headline Legal News | 2008/02/22 05:04
The president of the Virginia State Bar is proposing random audits of lawyer trust accounts.

Lawyers use trust accounts to temporarily hold real estate proceeds or retainers until they are disbursed to a third party or -- once a fee is earned -- to the lawyer.

It is a severe violation of professional conduct for a lawyer to mingle trust account money with personal funds or operating money.

But it does happen.

According to the state bar, a Virginia Beach attorney had his license revoked after he wrote 72 checks that he couldn't cover from 2002 to 2005. The checks totaled $3.3 million.

Bar president and Norfolk lawyer Howard Martin Junior says will make the audit proposal to the bar's executive committee next month. The American Bar Association recommends that every state conduct random audits to protect the public.

Drexel Law Gets Provisional Accreditation
Headline Legal News | 2008/02/21 03:12
Drexel University's new law school has received its much-awaited provisional accreditation, an important step toward providing its first students with usable legal degrees.

The university announced the provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association yesterday. It will allow graduating students to take the bar exam and, upon passing the test, practice professionally. Final accreditation will take at least two more years.

"To reach this milestone less than 18 months after welcoming our first law students to Drexel is remarkable and a testament to the vision and commitment of our Board of Trustees and the hard work and passion of the faculty and staff of the College of Law and its founding dean, Roger Dennis," Drexel President Constantine Papadakis said in a statement. "Drexel Law has gathered some of the most talented, innovative law faculty, practicing professionals and students anywhere, and it shows in every initiative."

In a city already boasting a healthy number of law schools, Drexel broke onto the scene in 2006. It was the first new law school in the region more than 30 years.

The law school's first class of 180 was drawn from a pool of more than 1,700 applicants and will graduate in 2009. And this year students are enjoying the school's new $19 million home on Market Street.

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