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Anniversary Highlights

Lawyers Alliance for New York celebrated our 45th anniversary throughout 2014 with special content, memories, and events.

Monday's Memories
Wednesday's Work

  Monday's Memories

Historical Moments: Photographs and Items from the Archives

Our anniversary year made us nostalgic. Join us in remembering our productive past and help us look forward to an equally exciting future! We would love to hear your stories and memories and see your photos. E-mail them to Emily Crossan at ecrossan@lawyersalliance.org.

December 1, 2014: When The Council of New York Law Associates (now Lawyers Alliance) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1989, it was a membership group of associates, partners, law students, paralegals, public interest attorneys, and solo practitioners. Today, Lawyers Alliance staff and 1,500 volunteer attorneys serve more than 670 nonprofits on more than 1,100 legal matters each year. Read the 20th (1989) and 45th (2014) anniversary newsletters to learn how we’ve grown and changed over the years.


 
 

During the holiday season, we are grateful to all those who have been part of Lawyers Alliance since 1969!

October 20, 2014: The years may come and go, but the dedication of our volunteers – and the look of our Cornerstone brick – remains the same! Much like these winners in 2006, Lawyers Alliance's 2014 honorees have provided top quality business and transactional legal services to New York City's nonprofits and done so with extraordinary enthusiasm and care.

 

This year's Cornerstone Awards for pro bono excellence will be held on October 30th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. This fun annual event recognizes important pro bono service by all of our volunteers. Lawyers Alliance will present awards to two outstanding firms and nine wonderful individuals. We also will be celebrating our 45th anniversary year by saluting our 15 Year Circle, a group of long-term volunteers who have helped hundreds of nonprofits during the past 15 years.

We hope you will join us. Please RSVP by October 23 to cornerstone@lawyersalliance.org and provide your name, organization, and contact information.

September 22, 2014:
A very productive 45 years...

1969:

  • The Council of New York Law Associates is founded.
  • The New York State Legislature passes the New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law.

1970 - 2013:

  • Lawyers Alliance serves more than 14,000 nonprofit clients and in 1989 publishes the First Edition of Advising Nonprofits.

2014:

  • The Nonprofit Revitalization Act, effective July 1st, is the first meaningful revision to the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law in decades.
  • Lawyers Alliance publishes the Sixth Edition of Advising Nonprofits, updated substantially to reflect these changes.

Visit our Publications page for more information on Advising Nonprofits.


 
 
 

July 21, 2014: In late 1991, the Council of New York Law Associates officially became Lawyers Alliance for New York. The name change demonstrated the increasing scope and capacity of the growing organization. Read the January/February 1992 newsletter announcing the name change, with photographs from a Gracie Mansion reception with then Mayor David Dinkins.

April 21, 2014: Before the advent of websites and electronic programs, printed event programs were the order of the day, as evidenced by our 20th (1989), 25th (1994), 30th (1999), and 35th (2004) hardcopy programs. Our 40th anniversary gala in 2009 featured a video highlighting our volunteer attorneys and nonprofit clients.

We look forward to seeing you at the 45th Anniversary Business Law & Leadership Gala on May 7th!


 
 
 
 

April 7, 2014: In honor of National Volunteer Month, which runs throughout April, we thank the more than 1,400 pro bono attorneys who assisted nonprofit clients through Lawyers Alliance the past twelve months and more than 12,000 who volunteered during the past 45 years. This includes attorneys from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, featured in the photograph below, who have assisted the Groundswell Mural Project since 2007. This client brings together professional artists, community organizers, and communities to create high-quality murals in underserved neighborhoods. Legal work has included corporate, employment, contracts, and other invaluable advice. Says Ron Aizen, Counsel at Davis Polk, "Over the years, as Groundswell has grown and evolved, we have had opportunities to advise Groundswell on a wide range of legal matters. It has been extremely rewarding to know that our efforts have contributed to Groundswell's ability to fulfill its mission and have such a positive impact on the lives of so many young people."

March 10, 2014: Today’s Monday’s Memory recalls fondly our former externs, including this group at our 2011 Business Law & Leadership Gala. If you are a former extern, we look forward to seeing you at this evening’s extern alumni gathering in New York City. Contact ecrossan@lawyersalliance.org for details.

March 3, 2014: In 1970, the newly formed Council of New York Law Associates created the Demonstration Observation Panel in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Committee of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York. This Panel trained attorneys to monitor public demonstrations to ensure that all parties, including police and demonstrators, behaved properly during protests. George Wade, an early member of the Council and current member of Lawyers Alliance's Board of Advisors, received the first Legal Observer card, enabling him to cross police lines at demonstrations in order to report on the proceedings.

 

Today, Lawyers Alliance's Advocacy Initiative continues this spirit of activism, and Lawyers Alliance has become a leading voice for the nonprofit sector. Please mark May 7, 2014 for our 45th Anniversary Gala, which will bring together leaders and friends from our past, present, and future.

February 10, 2014: The 45th anniversary logo provides us with a chance to look at some of the logos from the past. Which ones do you remember?


 
 
 
 

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  Wednesday's Work

Beginning in our anniversary year, we periodically highlight a recent case example that reflects the power of connecting lawyers, nonprofits, and communities. This work is important to our core mission. E-mail Emily Crossan at ecrossan@lawyersalliance.org with your stories or quotes about recent legal projects.

February 4, 2015: Lawyers Alliance’s volunteer network of 1,500 pro bono attorneys from more than 120 law firms and corporate legal departments brings a wide range of much-needed business and transactional legal expertise to New York City nonprofits.

One nonprofit client benefitting from this broad and deep talent is More Art, which since 2004 has been making contemporary art more accessible to a wider public through free public art projects in Manhattan neighborhoods and free educational programs for New York City children. Pro bono employment attorneys from American Express helped More Art assess whether artists working with More Art are employees or independent contractors and drafted the organization’s first formal employment policies. Pro bono corporate attorneys from Kaye Scholer LLP revised More Art’s bylaws, conflict of interest policy, whistleblower policy, and document retention policy to comply with changes in the law and be practical. A pro bono attorney from Dentons US LLP helped More Art to understand better intellectual property issues pertinent to its work with artists. The legal services included drafting an agreement that More Art now uses with artists to define the organization’s and artists’ intellectual property rights, while acknowledging More Art’s role as the commissioning and producing entity.

Says More Art Founder and Executive Director Micaela Martegani, "For a small organization like us, keeping current with all legal requirements feels like a daunting proposition, and yet as a responsible nonprofit organization it is crucial that we do so. Lawyers Alliance has made it very simple for us, and we could not be more grateful. All the lawyers they put us in touch with have been extremely courteous and solicitous and have taken the time to go over every single issue with us and to advise us as to the best practices in our professional field."

December 10, 2014: Community Access, a nonprofit organization founded in 1974, assists people with psychiatric disabilities in making the transition from shelters and hospitals to independent living. It provides safe, affordable housing and support services, including employment, education, and life skills training, and advocates for the rights of the mentally ill. Currently Community Access provides housing and services to more than 2,000 individuals and families in 20 different developments in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

Lawyers Alliance staff attorneys and pro bono counsel from Herrick, Feinstein LLP represented Community Access in negotiating the purchase of a parcel of land to be used for much needed affordable housing in the Bronx. The pro bono real estate attorney assisted with the negotiation and closing of the acquisition loan from the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the New York City Acquisition Fund. The transaction closed in April 2014, and planning is underway for the construction of 126 units of housing for low-income families and for people with psychiatric disabilities. Says Maggi Knox, Director of Real Estate at Community Access, "We are very grateful to Hedy O'Hara of Lawyers Alliance and Robert Riva of Herrick Feinstein for their valuable assistance in helping us acquire this property. We are very excited about this project, which is in a lovely neighborhood near the Grand Concourse, and which will feature lots of 'green' elements, such as solar panels and a greenhouse."

November 5, 2014: Some nonprofits start in one city, or even a specific neighborhood, and expand well beyond the initial community to multiple states. Proper corporate structures and policies are essential in this type of expansion. STRIVE is a national nonprofit workforce development agency that provides comprehensive job training, social services, and career development for the hardest-to-employ, including the formerly incarcerated, long-term public assistance recipients, disconnected youth, the homeless, recovering addicts, and unskilled and under-educated laborers. Founded 30 years ago in East Harlem, STRIVE has expanded to 25 community-based affiliates across the United States and overseas. Pro bono corporate counsel from Crowell & Moring LLP is working with STRIVE on the development of a base form of agreement that sets forth the respective responsibilities of STRIVE and an affiliate relating to territory, types and standards of services, use of STRIVE intellectual property and materials, publicity, and funding. Volunteer counsel is also assisting with the associated policies and procedures manual relating to the affiliate network. Volunteer attorneys from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP are undertaking a review of STRIVE’s intellectual property portfolio with a view to maximizing protections and opportunities as STRIVE makes such assets available to its affiliates. These activities will help clarify the relationships between STRIVE and its affiliates and support enrichment of services offered to those in need of work.

Learn more about Lawyers Alliance's range of business and transactional legal services on the Our Services page.

August 20, 2014: New Yorkers have long enjoyed sitting on their stoops and socializing. Pedestrian plazas are taking this practice to a new level, providing residents, especially the elderly and new immigrants, with a central place to gather. Managed by local nonprofits, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and volunteers, in partnership with New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT), these plazas build a sense of community and help local businesses. Fulton Area Business Alliance (FAB), a nonprofit strengthening small businesses and improving commerce in Brooklyn, sought Lawyers Alliance’s assistance when it was entering into a maintenance agreement with the DOT for the care and upkeep of the Putnam Triangle Plaza in Clinton Hill. Pro bono attorneys from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP reviewed the agreement, which covered FAB’s responsibility to keep the area clean and free of litter, remove snow, repair and replace chairs and other amenities in the plaza, and maintain insurance. The volunteers also drafted a form agreement that FAB uses to act as a sponsor when nonprofit community groups apply for a street activity permit. The Putnam Triangle Plaza is now a bustling community space. Says Phillip Kellogg of FAB, “This legal assistance helped us identify and address issues that could have made our small nonprofit organization vulnerable.” Similarly, pro bono attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP are advising Sunnyside District Management Association as it reviews and negotiates agreements with the DOT for the maintenance of a new pedestrian plaza in Sunnyside, Queens, which has added nearly 6,000 square feet of new public space under the elevated 7 train. This legal work helps the client maintain a welcoming and vibrant commercial district in the neighborhood. Rachel Thieme of Sunnyside District Management Association says, “We are so grateful to Lawyers Alliance for matching us with the fantastic legal team from Paul Weiss. Without their help the contract review would have been daunting.”

Visit our Communities page for information on Lawyers Alliance’s clients, including those working in economic development.

June 4, 2014: As the school year draws to a close, Lawyers Alliance salutes our more than 300 nonprofit clients working with children and youth. ReadWorks, a nonprofit that provides reading comprehension curricula online and free of charge to more than 500,000 teachers, has a long-standing volunteer general counsel (VGC) relationship with Lawyers Alliance volunteer Bradley Kulman. Mr. Kulman, a partner in the New York office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, has worked with ReadWorks since 2001, when it was known as Friends of the Family Academy and provided support for reading instruction at a public elementary school in Harlem. Over the years, the mission and focus of the organization evolved significantly, as have its legal needs. Mr. Kulman and Stroock colleagues have provided increasingly sophisticated transactional and intellectual property advice regarding ReadWork's website and its partnerships with other nonprofit and for-profit organizations in the education technology arena. Says Mr. Kulman, "Working with an organization such as ReadWorks permits me to see the tangible results of my work, as the organization grows and accomplishes its goals. ReadWorks has exposed me to an important area affecting New Yorkers."

Read more about Bradley Kulman and other Lawyers Alliance alumni profiles on the For Alumni page.

April 23, 2014: Even nonprofit groups that work within the legal system have business and transactional law needs. New Media Advocacy Project, ("N-Map"), founded in 2009, combats human rights violations and poverty by using digital video and social media to strengthen social justice legal advocacy in courts, legislatures, and communities. N-Map teams of lawyers and media professionals work together to develop strategies, create media, and implement plans in courtroom trials, pre-trial litigation, legislative advocacy, and the court of public opinion. Because N-Map regularly works with videographers and graphic designers, it needed a well-defined contract to use with these professionals, who are not employees. N-Map also sought appropriate documents to govern its relationships with its clients. Volunteers from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP drafted and finalized these model contracts, making N-Map's operations smoother. N-Map and Weil Gotshal have continued a productive relationship, with the firm taking on several subsequent transactional projects for N-Map. Additionally, attorneys from Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP assisted N-Map in drafting an employee handbook, ensuring that its employee policies were also well defined. Says Adam Stofsky of N-Map, "Lawyers Alliance has been crucial to our organization’s transition from a tiny startup into a growing, sustainable institution. The pro bono firms that have supported us have been brilliant – helping us not just to answer discrete questions, but to improve practices across the board, particularly with respect to contracts and employment issues. And we are always happy to keep bringing interesting projects for pro bono teams to work on and learn from!"

In 2013, Lawyers Alliance represented 84 nonprofit advocacy clients on 118 legal matters. Visit the Nonprofits page of our website for information about legal assistance to nonprofits.

March 19, 2014: The simultaneous dissemination and protection of ideas and materials is especially crucial to nonprofits working to educate the public. The LAMP (Learning About Multimedia Project) educates and equips people to shape the media landscape through hands-on learning workshops brought directly to New York City schools and communities. Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP attorneys helped The LAMP with copyright protections and licensing agreements for curricula. Attorneys from Arnold & Porter LLP assisted the nonprofit with collaboration agreements and fair use protocols for LAMP students to follow when remixing and criticizing copyrighted media with The LAMP’s online video editor, the Media Breaker. Says Co-Founder and Executive Director D.C. Vito, "Lawyers Alliance has worked with The LAMP since 2009 to support our work bringing media fluency training to over 2,500 youth, parents, and educators throughout New York City. One of our goals is to shed light on the importance of fair use with regards to copyright law, and Lawyers Alliance has worked on our behalf to help us find pro bono attorneys that provide us with assistance, counsel, and working documents that immediately impact the participants in our workshops."

February 12, 2014: StreetWise Partners builds mentoring relationships between low-income individuals and volunteer business professionals, enabling these individuals to develop workplace skills and employment networks as the bridge to a successful career. Over the years, StreetWise Partners has received pro bono legal assistance through Lawyers Alliance on bylaws, intellectual property, real estate, and employment matters. Says Chairman and Founder Rahul Advani, "StreetWise Partners was incorporated in 1997 by a group of young professionals, and we had no idea what course we were charting for ourselves. Over the past 15 years, StreetWise Partners has grown and expanded to multiple sites across New York City and Washington DC, providing mentoring services to 300 low-income individuals each year with the dedicated help of over 1,000 volunteers annually. Obviously, the way we organize and govern ourselves needed to evolve as our organization grew. Lawyers Alliance and the pro bono attorneys assisted us in transforming our organization from a founder-led entity to an entity employing best practices." We thank the following law firms, whose pro bono services have been influential: Latham & Watkins LLP; Shearman & Sterling LLP; White & Case LLP; Seyfarth Shaw LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Linklaters LLP; DLA Piper LLP (US); and Jones Day.

See a list of all Lawyers Alliance volunteer institutions from the past 10 years.

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