Domus Update
 
At this point in my term as President I thought it might be a good idea to take a break from discussing umbrella revolutions, driverless cars, and thirteenth-century peace treaties to report on some more recent and pertinent developments.

Domus Renovations

A while back I reported on the need for significant repairs and renovations to the home of the Association, Domus. Because of wide variances in certain preliminary cost estimates, the Association retained an experienced project consultant, N2 Design, to advise the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors on the renovations. N2 Design recommended we retain two engineering firms, one to evaluate the building envelope and one to evaluate the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. These firms would, after the Board of Directors approved the scope of the work, prepare detailed drawings and specifications to be used to solicit bids from contractors for the repair work.
 
At the January Board of Directors meeting the Board received a presentation from Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger on the status of the building envelope, and a presentation from Bendix Engineering on the status of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. At the conclusion of the presentations, the Board determined that repairs totaling $1,500,000 were needed for Domus.
 
The main focus of the renovations will be on preserving the integrity of the building envelope, which will require: replacing the flat roof and the pitched (slate) roof; replacing the skylights; replacing the coping in the parapet walls and the flashing at the chimneys; and repairing and waterproofing the foundation. Besides the repairs to the building envelope, certain plumbing and electrical system repairs are needed, including: replacement of the antiquated fire alarm system; repair of the main electrical conduit; relocation of electrical panels to comply with building code requirements; and the replacement of cast iron waste pipes.
 
The Board of Directors has determined these repairs should be financed over a fifteen-year period and is considering proposals from banks for the financing. The funds to pay the debt service for this financing will come from the dues increase instituted this year in anticipation of the need for the repairs and from a reduction in personnel costs, so no further dues increases or personnel changes are anticipated to be necessary to finance the repairs. The work will begin this Spring and is scheduled to be completed in October.
 
UBE Task Force

Several months ago I appointed a Task Force to: (1) consider whether the New York State Bar Examination should be modified to include the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam, as proposed in October, 2014 by the New York State Board of Law Examiners, and (2) prepare a report and make recommendations to the Association's Board of Directors on this issue. The Task Force comprised Board members Patrick T. Collins, Alan B. Hodish, Lisa M. Petrocelli, Sandra Stines, and Charlene J. Thompson. The Task Force weighed the merits of the modification proposed by the Board of Law Examiners and considered the potential impacts of this modification on current and future members of the Association, the legal profession, and the practice of law in New York.
 
On February 10, 2015, the Chair of the Task Force, Charlene Thompson, presented the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force to the Board of Directors. The Task Force recommended that the bar exam not be modified as proposed by the Board of Law Examiners, that modifications to the examination be undertaken only after further study and pre-testing of potential questions, and that the questions be analyzed for disparate impact on minority candidates. It was further recommended that the portion of the examination testing knowledge of New York law be more comprehensive and rigorous than proposed to ensure candidates can demonstrate competency to practice law in New York.
 
The Board of Directors adopted the Report and Recommendation, which is available on the Association's website. The Report and Recommendation has been sent to the New York State Board of Law Examiners for their deliberations. I am very grateful to the Task Force for its hard work and for its insightful analysis of the issues raised by the proposed adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination.
 
Dinner Dance

On May 9, 2015 the Association will hold its Annual Dinner Dance at the Uniondale Marriott Hotel. At the Dinner Dance the Association will recognize and honor members who have been in practice for fifty and sixty years and will bestow its Distinguished Service Medallion on the Hon A. Gail Prudenti, the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York. It should be a wonderful evening and I hope you will attend. Information about the Dinner Dance can be found on the Association's website.


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