President’s Column: The FCBA’s Year in Review

By FCBA President Adam J. Katz

Before I provide my year-end recap of the Federal Court Bar Association’s activities and achievements, I want to congratulate Judge Anne Nardacci on her recent confirmation as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York. Judge Nardacci spent the last 20 years litigating complex commercial cases in district courts nationwide. And she will soon discover, if she has not already, that she was confirmed to one of our nation’s most collegial benches whose judges discharge their duties with wisdom and care. Judge Nardacci’s confirmation is particularly welcome since she fills a seat that sat vacant for nearly seven years. But we’ve managed as a district due in large measure to the hard work of our judges and court staff. I want to specifically acknowledge our senior judges for their selfless commitment to our district. Although they are under no obligation to do so, many of them continue to carry substantial caseloads. Our district would be in dire straits without their service, and we owe them a special debt of gratitude.

Last year, the officers and I set three broad goals for 2022. I reported on these and other issues at the December 8 annual dinner, and I briefly summarize them again here:

Increase our membership. Voluntary bar associations throughout the country have been working to overcome the challenge of declining and stagnant membership. Rather than set a numeric membership goal, the officers set a simple goal of reversing our association’s own downward-sloping membership trajectory. I am pleased to report that we have 52 more members today than we did on this same date last year and, with recent changes to our recruitment and retention strategies, I am cautiously optimistic that we will continue this growth in the coming year.

Increase and improve our online presence. Our website is antiquated and our social media presence virtually nonexistent. To address these issues, the FCBA contracted earlier in the year with a web design firm to create a more user-friendly website that includes a members-only portion to store our CLE materials. We plan to roll out our new website and increase our social media presence in the coming weeks.

Safe return to in-person programing. For much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCBA, like other organizations, was largely confined to online programming. This past year, we hosted roughly two-dozen programs, most of which were in person. Members of our bench and bar spoke with students about federal clerkships at Albany Law School and Syracuse University College of Law, and teamed up to teach highschoolers about the Constitution in connection with Law Day. We held 15 CLEs; hosted cocktail hours in Albany, Syracuse and Binghamton; organized a golf outing in the Capital Region; put on a dinner with the bench and bar; and co-sponsored, with the Court, ceremonies in Albany and Syracuse to recognize attorneys who accepted pro bono assignment in the last few years.

I remain privileged and honored to be in a position to thank our members, judges and court staff for their dedication and for making the Northern District of New York such a special place to practice law. And I look forward to continuing to serve as your president in 2023.

Best wishes to all in the New Year.

ADAM J. KATZ can be reached at president@ndnyfcba.org