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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bar Group and The 'Conscience' of the Legal Profession

To New Leader, City Bar Is 'Conscience' of Profession
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko  -  May 14, 2012

To Carey Dunne, the key to understanding the mission of the New York City Bar is to remember why the organization was formed in 1870.  That year, 200 prominent lawyers came together to sign a document condemning the influence William "Boss" Tweed's Tammany Hall political machine had acquired over judges in the city. They vowed to fight corrupt judges and political influence on the courts.  "The thing that distinguishes the city bar is that it has a fairly unique and compelling history," said Dunne, 54, who will become the bar group's 65th president at its annual meeting tomorrow, May 15. "I do think that the spirit of standing up, of using the bully pulpit, of standing up and saying, 'We believe in something and will be a force for change in the legal system' continues to this day."  Early city bar leaders played pivotal roles in efforts to reform government and the legal profession. Tweed himself was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from the taxpayers and died in jail.  Dunne said the city bar today remains "the conscience of the legal profession" in the city.  "My view of the president's role is to make sure that the city bar continues to use its bully pulpit to be out there, making our views known, to look for the kinds of changes through the legal process that will reflect the spirit that has been animating the bar for more than 140 years," Dunne said. "I want to keep the voice of the city bar alive."  Dunne is a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, where he leads the firm's litigation practice. He succeeds Samuel Seymour, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell who is completing his second consecutive one-year term as president.  While Dunne plans to present some policy priorities at tomorrow's meeting, he said he considers it as important, or more so, for the group to remain nimble in responding to the most important issues of the day affecting the legal profession and its 23,000 members.  Dunne said the "prime example" of advocacy work that the city bar has done in the past few years occurred last year, when it, the New York State Bar Association and other local bar associations across the state banded together to urge the state Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. The group has also thrown its influence behind higher pay for judges and an end to court system budget cuts.  Dunne said the city bar president must monitor mayoral appointments to the bench as well as legislation from City Hall, Albany and Washington, D.C., that would have an impact on the courts and the legal profession.  He said he intends to maintain the active pro bono programs at the city bar, adding that he himself benefitted from pro bono service by gaining hands-on experience with clients as a young lawyer.  Dunne said that one of his more rewarding cases occurred in 2007, when a pro bono team of attorneys from Davis Polk succeeded in getting a murder conviction overturned for Lonnie Jones, who had served more than five years in prison for shooting a leader of the Bloods gang to death. The firm later won an award of $1.8 million from the state on Jones' behalf for false arrest and imprisonment.  Dunne called Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's new rule to require lawyers applying for bar admission (NYLJ, May 2) to perform mandatory pro bono service a "very novel, innovative step."  But he said, "I am very interested to see at this point how it gets implemented over time. A lot of people are scratching their heads at this point. That will be of great interest to our summer associates."  New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, president of the city bar from 1996 to 1998, called Dunne a "perfect choice" to lead the bar group.  "He's an accomplished litigator with a strong background in the so-called judicial reform issues," Cardozo said.  Dunne became associated with court reform issues in part through work as a member of the Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services and as chair of the Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts. He was appointed to both commissions by former chief judge Judith Kaye.  Kaye said she came to rely on Dunne because he is an "excellent" litigator who has a breadth of understanding about the court system through his work at the city bar and the Fund for Modern Courts, where he chaired a task force on judicial selection.  Dunne is also a former chair of the fund and received its John J. McCloy Award in 2008.  Dunne, who sits on the three-member management team at David Polk, said he will need help from his partners to meet his obligations to both the city bar and his firm's practice.  At Davis Polk, he specializes in criminal, civil and regulatory matters, including defending clients in state and federal governmental investigations and enforcement actions—about 80 percent of his cases involving federal and 20 percent state agencies.  He also has wide experience advising companies on compliance and corporate governance and has had recent assignments in China, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Italy and the United Kingdom.  Dunne, an Oberlin College and Harvard Law graduate, was a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office from 1984 to 1987. He joined Davis Polk as an associate in 1987.  He and his wife, Kate Manning, a one-time Emmy Award-winning producer at PBS, live in Manhattan. Manning wrote a well-received novel, Whitegirl, in 2002.  The couple has three children, ages 22, 19 and 16.  Joel Stashenko can be contacted at


Anonymous said...

It's quite interesting to see Boss Tweed's corruption and Judith Kaye's name mentioned in the same article. Carey Dunne, who is a decent person, could become a hero is he came out against the real depth of the corruption in New York. And that would include, of course, him exposing Judith Kaye's involvement in that corruption.

Anonymous said...

Judge him by the company he has kept:Chief Justice Kaye, Lippman, New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo (aka Bloomberg's hack), the Task Force on Judicial Selection, supporting increasing NY judges pay for bad performance and his wife, who is a producer at PBS(which has ignored all the judicial corruption in NY State). Are you fooled because he supported gay marriage and opposed Boss Tweed? Next, prepare for the NY Times' puff piece praising the new head of the bar. What good has the NY Bar done to control and diminish corruption in the NY Courts? None. Vultures of a feather flock together.

Anonymous said...

This is 100% correct. The Bar has joined forces with the courts judges etc. To facilitate the misdeeds of the judges and the attorneys.
System is a mess.

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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