NYLJ: Special Articles for Law Day

Free: Law Day
Friday, May 1, 2009
Every year on May 1 (Law Day) the New York Law Journal devotes a special section to articles written by prominent members of the New York legal community in commeration of Law Day. Here are abstracts of the articles for 2009.

Staying True to Lincoln’s Commitment to Equality By Jonathan Lippman “For this 51st annual celebration of Law Day in the United States, the American Bar Association has selected an excellent but challenging theme: “A Legacy of Liberty: Celebrating Lincoln’s Bicentennial.” Thousands of books and millions of Web pages have been published about Lincoln, who is widely believed to be our nation’s greatest president, and many focus on his words in speeches and his many writings. All of that is both a blessing and a curse. To select a theme or quotation for Law Day, we have such a wealth of material that choosing is difficult. I have happily settled on Lincoln’s lifelong commitment to equality”.

Assisting Homeowners Facing Foreclosures By Ann Pfau “The partnering of the court system with legal services organizations, bar associations, and other branches of government to secure legal representation for civil foreclosure defendants, and the centering in the courthouse of an intensive early screening and conference program at the very outset of litigation, all represent creative, collaborative and non-traditional approaches to addressing an extraordinary societal need. The unique nature of these efforts would make them foreign to a lawyer from President Lincoln’s time. What would be familiar and welcome to Mr. Lincoln, however, would be our court system’s central role in guaranteeing fundamental freedoms”.

Courage of the Great Emancipator By Luis A. Gonzalez “By the year of Lincoln’s birth, the U.S. Constitution was on a steadfast march toward disproving George Washington’s gloomy prediction that it would not last 20 years. However, our Constitution was not without its faults, and it was Abraham Lincoln’s destiny to champion abolishing one particularly offensive component of the document, the written endorsement of the institution of slavery.”

Lincoln’s Lessons For the Judiciary By A. Gail Prudenti “The problems facing Lincoln were unprecedented in the history of our country. By comparison, the tasks I encounter on a daily basis – building consensus and resolving problems confronted by judges and court staff – are less momentous. Nonetheless, Lincoln’s approach to problem-solving has provided helpful guidance to me time and time again.”

The Influence of Two New Yorkers By Henry J. Scudder “President Abraham Lincoln believed the Emancipation Proclamation would be his greatest legacy. As he signed the document on Jan. 1, 1863, he proclaimed, “If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act.” As we celebrate the bicentennial of his birth, we should recall the contributions of two New York residents who influenced his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, namely, William Seward and Frederick Douglass.”

Responsibility for the Common Good By Michael R. Bloomberg “Although rightly remembered as a champion of individual liberty, Lincoln also had a tremendous sense of the common good, of our responsibility to each other, and in the ability of people to come together to build a better, brighter future for their neighbors – especially during times of tumult.”

As a Lawyer, Lincoln Saw Our Higher Calling By Bernice K. Leber “Many have commented that Lincoln possessed a service mentality; and while he was ready to represent any client, he also drew upon his love of the rule of law as a springboard for public action.”

Matching Needs in the Economic Crisis By Patricia M. Hynes “As we lawyers celebrate Lincoln’s bicentennial and think of the liberty we so dearly cherish and defend, we are constantly reminded that our liberty depends upon a justice system that guarantees these liberties. But the justice system only works for those who can gain access to it.”

Call to Serve Those Less Fortunate By Steven S. Orlow “Lawyers, among the most fortunate in our society, who themselves represent a culturally and ethnically diverse population, coming to the aid of the “other” – in this case the less fortunate – and doing so in a way that stands as one sign among so many that this nation has gratefully come a very long way.”

Inspiration From Speech at Cooper Institute By Ann B. Lesk “I attended the public reading of the Constitution in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in 2004, and my first surprise was to find that the hall was overflowing. The next, continuing surprise was that the audience was deeply, enthusiastically and vocally responsive to the words of the Constitution”.

Raises for Judges Promote Liberty By Peter H. Levy “Would Abraham Lincoln be proud of his country as it stands in 2009? From President Barack Obama’s election to the mere fact that the U.S. Constitution still stands as a living and breathing guide to our daily lives, the answer would be a resounding yes. But then if he looked north from his perch in Washington or east from his home in Illinois to the capitol of the Empire State, he might have to rethink his enthusiasm.”

Progress Made, Hard Work Continues By James P. Chou “On this Law Day, while we celebrate the legacy that has opened doors of opportunity for the historically oppressed and disenfranchised, let us be mindful that much work lies ahead if we are to ensure that Lincoln’s legacy of liberty and equality endures.”

Legacy Includes Ending Gender Bias By Hemalee J. Patel “Lincoln’s legacy was certainly one of liberty but also of hope, perseverance and the idea that one must always do what is right, even if it is not easy”.

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