Committee participation is one of the most important benefits of membership in the Bar Association of Erie County. Many of our active committees provide the clearest, fastest way to keep current with changes in your practice area. It costs members nothing additional to join BAEC committees. Committee members are listed by name in the supplement to the Bulletin each year. Please contact Committee Coordinator, Marnie L. Kennedy at 716-852-8687 for additional information.
ADMISSION TO THE BAR COMMITTEE
Chair(s): James M. VanDette
The Admission To The Bar Committee reviews the prevailing methods, scope, and adequacy of legal education as it relates to admission to the bar and the practice of law. A welcoming reception is traditionally sponsored for new admittees where they meet the Association's leadership and distinguished members of the judiciary.
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Bridget M. O'Connell
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee educates attorneys and the public about alternative processes that exist for the resolution of disputes without resort to litigation, and the resulting benefits and/or risks of using any such ADR procedures. This goal is accomplished by CLE programs sponsored annually by the committee, by public education programs, and by various special projects.
APPELLATE PRACTICE COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Timothy P. Murphy
The Appellate Practice Committee focuses on the advancement and identification of issues of concern to members of the bar who are engaged in appellate practice in state and federal courts.
BANKING LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Pietra G. Lettieri
The Banking Law Committee monitors developments and changes in both federal and state law governing the activities of financial institutions and serves as an educational forum for its members and the bar at large. Its emphasis is primarily on issues relating to commercial credit transactions, including the perfection of security interests in Uniform Commercial Code and non-Uniform Commercial Code collateral, the structuring of credit transactions, and the rights and obligations of lenders and borrowers. It also addresses issues related to consumer retail banking.
Chair(s): George F. Bellows
The By-Laws Committee provides interpretations of the By-Laws of the Association and drafts proposed amendments at the request of the Board of Directors.
CLE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Anna Marie Richmond
The CLE Advisory Committee oversees continuing legal education programs for the Erie Institute of Law. The Committee monitors and evaluates programs to ensure that high quality, effective and timely programs are offered to meet the professional education needs of lawyers in Western New York, and works to maintain the Institute's position as the primary provider of CLE in the surrounding legal community.
COMMERCIAL AND BANKRUPTCY LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): James C. Thoman
The Commercial and Bankruptcy Law Committee deals with current substantive and procedural issues concerning bankruptcy law and the bankruptcy courts and commercial and business litigation in both state and federal courts. The committee provides ongoing legal education to its members in these areas, and each year also presents both a Noonday lecture and a CLE seminar on current topics. The committee also serves as a liaison for the local bar to the United State Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York.
COMMITTEE TO ASSIST LAWYERS WITH DEPRESSION
Chair(s): Daniel T. Lukasik
The Committee will coordinate, assist and support activities and resources dedicated to assisting lawyers in the Association who suffer from depression.
COMMITTEE FOR THE DISABLED
Chair(s): Jeffrey Marion
The Committee For The Disabled serves the interests of mentally and physically disabled persons by: 1.) educating the legal community about the special needs of the disabled; 2.) encouraging the legal representation of the disabled; 3) advocating for accessibility of services; and 4) advocating for the rights of disabled persons by monitoring legislative and judicial trends.
COMMITTEE ON EMINENT DOMAIN AND TAX CERTIORARI
Chair(s): Mark R. McNamara
The Committee On Eminent Domain And Tax Certiorari updates members on changes in the law and procedures in the fields. The committee invites guest speakers to meetings and produces periodic CLE seminars for Bar members.
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' & SERVICE-MEMBERS' LEGAL ISSUES
Chair(s): David J. State and Jeffrey Marion
The committee will create a network of lawyers knowledgeable in veteran and service members' law and produce programs and publish articles to keep attorneys abreast of relevant legal issues. The committee will also coordinate community outreach to increase awareness of legal issues particular to veterans and service members.
Veteran's: Veteran's Legal Services Referral List 2014
COOPERATION WITH THE ACCOUNTING PROFESSION & TAXATION COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Stephen J. McCann, Jr.
Formerly two separate committees, the Accounting and Taxation Committee has a twofold purpose. The first is to maintain a continuing dialogue with members of the accounting profession, promoting matters of joint concern, exchanging information and cultivating a better understanding between the two professions. The second purpose is to keep pace with new developments and practical applications of federal, state and local laws relating to taxation of every kind. This committee co-sponsors an annual Tax Institute and presents seminars and discussions related to accounting and taxation matters. Committee members also review pending legislation and provide relevant information for dissemination to the bar at large.
CORPORATION LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Craig M. Fischer
The Corporation Law Committee members are business law practitioners with expertise in various business entities including partnerships and corporations. The committee observes and considers developments, changes and practical applications of state business laws.
CRIMINAL LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Joseph J. Terranova
The Criminal Law Committee are attorneys primarily engaged in criminal practice, both defense and prosecution, who consider matters which impact on the criminal justice system and the practice of criminal law. The committee considers matters referred to it by the Board of Directors. The committee also presents CLE programs through the Erie Institute of Law and provides lecturers for the Stop-DWI assemblies.
ELDER LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Anthony Szczygiel
The Elder Law Committee shares information among members and the public regarding issues of major concern to the elderly and practitioners representing them. Such issues include access to health care, Medicaid, asset planning, housing, community resources and institutional placement, pension benefits, health care decision making, private and Medicare health insurance, administrative proceedings, attorneys' fees, veterans' benefits, and exploitation of the elderly.
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Jeffrey C. Stravino
The Environmental Law Committee provides environmental practitioners and other attorneys with a forum for discussion of current environmental legal trends, DEC/EPA regulatory, statutory, and enforcement initiatives, and current or emerging case law. It also provides education and community/academic outreach programs. The committee has frequent speakers on a wide variety of environmental topics.
FEDERAL PRACTICE COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Timothy J. Graber
The Federal Practice Committee fosters an ongoing dialogue with the members of the federal judiciary who sit in this district. Each fall, the committee holds a dinner attended by all district, magistrate and bankruptcy judges from both Buffalo and Rochester. Meetings often consist of an informal discussion with one of the members of the federal bench. The committee provides regular input with respect to proposed changes to the Local Rules of Practice for the district, and conducts one major seminar each year.
HEALTH CARE LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): William Patrick Keefer
The Health Care Law Committee educates members and others about developments and trends in the field through CLE seminars and speakers at monthly meetings. Consideration is given to all legal and ethical issues affecting physicians, hospitals and other providers of health care services. A Liaison Committee between the Health Law Committee and the Medical Society of the County of Erie has developed guidelines for interprofessional relations between physicians and attorneys.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Sharon Nosenchuck
The Human Rights Committee is concerned with human rights of people. In the past, the committee has examined the conditions of local jails, followed local cases that have human rights implications and heard from experts on the problems of refugees.
INSURANCE PLANS COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Andrew D. Merrick
The Insurance Plans Committee evaluates proposals for group insurance plans for the Association's membership and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors for appropriate action.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, COMPUTER AND ENTERTAINMENT LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Charles van Ee and Jordan Walbesser
Intellectual Property, Computer and Entertainment Law Committee shares information about contract issues in music, film and sports industries; publicity rights; Internet and computer law issues; copyrights; trademarks; patents; trade secrets; and unfair competition. About half of each meeting is devoted to a presentation from a committee member or guest speaker on a current topic of legal interest.
INTERNATIONAL LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Benjamin R. Dwyer
The International Law Committee promotes the practice and study of international law in Erie County and the City of Buffalo, acting as both a producer of programs and activities and a point of contact for members of the Bar. Acting through the Board of Directors of the Association, the Committee reaches out to the Bar, the business community, and institutions of higher education and acts as a catalyst for dialogue, education and the development of international legal practice. The Committee remains open to all areas of international law, giving due regard to both private international law, public international law and human rights issues. The Committee oversees the continued development of the Bar Association's Sister Cities Program with the President of the Association and, through that program, promotes the development of the Bar's international interests and objectives.
Chair(s): Hon. Deborah A. Chimes
The Judges' Committee promotes discussion and interchange of ideas in connection with issues of interest and concern to the judiciary.
Chair(s): Shari Jo Reich
The Judiciary Committee investigates and evaluates the qualifications of candidates for judicial office in Erie County. The ratings are made public to assist voters in selecting their choices in the general election each November.
JUSTICE COURTS COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Michael H. Kooshoian
The Justice Courts Committee offers members the opportunity to discuss current Justice Courts issues with attorneys practicing in the towns and villages, as well as with many of the judges who are members of this committee.
LABOR LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Josephine A. Greco
The Labor Law Committee consists of attorneys involved in all aspects of labor and employment law. This includes employment discrimination law and private and public sector labor and management relations. The monthly meetings tend to be educational, usually featuring a presentation by a committee member or an outside guest speaker.
LAWYER REFERRAL & INFORMATION SERVICE COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Robert A. Fiordaliso
The Lawyer Referral& Information Service Committee monitors and reviews the operation of the Lawyer Referral & Information Service and recommends improvements in service or modifications in policies and procedures to staff and the Board of Directors.
MATRIMONIAL AND FAMILY LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Michelle Schwach Miecznikowski and Elizabeth DiPirro
The Matrimonial and Family Law Committee is one of the largest and most active committees of the Bar Association. Committee activities include monthly meetings featuring discussions of new substantive law, court rules and guest speakers on topics relevant to the practice. Seminars featuring presentations by experts on issues important to matrimonial practitioners are held annually.
MINORITY LAWYERS OUTREACH COMMITTEE
Chair: Stephanie J. Calhoun
The Minority Lawyers Outreach Committee is charged with devising ways to enrich professional opportunities for lawyers of color. The committee works to enhance career objectives and make the practice of law more meaningful to minority attorneys. It also develops programs and activities to assist law students of color with internships and employment opportunities.
MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Michael B. Risman
The Municipal and School Law Committee consists of attorneys involved in all aspects of federal, state and local laws related to municipalities and schools. The Committee provides a forum for these attorneys to share information on issues of concern and interest and to consider current developments and changes in the law.
Chair(s): Dennis J. Bischof
The Negligence Committee fosters cooperation between the plaintiff and defense bar in order to encourage the efficient administration of justice; updates and educates the general bar about recent developments in the field of negligence law through CLE seminars; and considers, and makes recommendations about proposed legislation affecting the practice of negligence law.
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN FAMILY COURT COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Tina M. Hawthorne and Bernadette Hoppe
The Practice and Procedure in Family Court Committee serves as a communication link between the Bar Association and the bench, striving to better the quality of the practice of lawyers before the Family Court bench. The Committee features guest speakers at its meetings and produces Noonday lectures and CLE seminars. The Forum, the monthly newsletter of the committee, is now available online.
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN SURROGATE'S COURT COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Sharon L. Wick
The Practice and Procedure in Surrogate's Court Committee meets monthly to discuss topics of interest that affect Surrogate's practice. The Committee provides educational seminars on trust and estate issues as well as an annual Noonday Lecture. In addition, the Liaison subcommittee meets with Erie County Surrogate Barbara Howe and her court staff throughout the year to address issues of importance in Surrogate's practice.
PROFESSIONAL CONTINUITY COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Francis X. Carroll
The Professional Continuity Committee assists clients in obtaining other counsel when that attorney's practice is interrupted without an appropriate successor.
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Terence B. Newcomb
The Professional Ethics Committee investigates and answers inquiries concerning the Rules of Professional Conduct. The results of the investigations and a proposed opinion are reported to the Board of Directors, who make the final decision. Opinions are published in The Bulletin to provide guidance to the legal community.
REAL PROPERTY LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Keri D. Callocchia
The Real Property Law Committee considers the development and practical workings of the law relating to real property, conveyancing, mortgages, foreclosures, receiverships and other related subjects.
REGULATORY COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Brad Davidzik and Brian Kearns
The corporate regulatory environment has undergone unprecedented growth in recent years. Small businesses and large corporations are subjected to more governmental oversight than ever before. Currently, massive statutes such as Dodd Frank are written in a vague manner, which results in many uncertainties and challenges in connection with their implementation. As a result, administrative regulations play a larger role, as they are supposed to provide the rules that were not addressed in the enabling legislation. The Regulatory Compliance Committee's goal is to address and explore the pressing regulatory issues and uncertainties of the current business environment. The Committee will provide a forum for compliance attorneys to effectively strategize and solve these complex legal and regulatory issues.
SOLO AND SMALL LAW FIRM PRACTICE COMMITTEE
Chair (s): Lana V. Tupchik
The Small Law Office Technology Committee is designed to provide sole practitioners and those in small law offices with a forum to discuss technology and how it can enhance the efficiency of their law practice. Whether it be computers, software, hardware, the internet, telephones, or any other type of device that may be helpful, the committee members will offer advice on how best to use technology. Each meeting will provide members with an opportunity to ask questions and, hopefully, get answers to their most perplexing technology problems. The committee will also have speakers on a wide variety of technology topics.
UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF LAW COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Marc Shatkin
The Unlawful Practice of Law Committee seeks to protect the public against the unlawful practice of law by investigating allegations of unlawful practice. It may receive complaints, take evidence, and upon Board approval, present complaints to the State Attorney General and have charge of actions instituted by the Association for the unlawful practice of law.
WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Ellen Shanahan Becker
The Workers' Compensation Committee meets periodically to discuss issues affecting practice before the Workers' Compensation Board. The Committee takes an active role in working with the Board's administration by presenting ideas and concerns of the bar as well as responding to proposed legislation and Board rules.
YOUNG LAWYERS COMMITTEE
Chair(s): Katie M. Ireland and Laura P. Berloth
The Young Lawyers Committee consists of lawyers who have been practicing for 10 years or less. The Committee provides leadership, networking and social opportunities and periodically produces educational programs on topics of interest to young lawyers. In addition, the Committee is charged with coordinating the annual High School Mock Trial Tournament.