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Jonathan Pressment in the New York Law Journal: City Insists There Will Be 'Many, Many Cases' for 18-B Lawyers Under Plan Fought by Bar Groups
06/01/2011


A lawyer from the New York City Law Department seeking to uphold a ruling allowing the city to move conflict cases from private lawyers to groups like the Legal Aid Society yesterday disavowed any intention to "knock out 18-B lawyers," as the private lawyers are commonly called.

"We need them. There are many, many cases," Julian L. Kalkstein, a senior city lawyer, said in remarks that seemed aimed as much at the roughly 80 18-B lawyers in the audience as at the Appellate Division, First Department, panel hearing arguments about the city plan.

Daniel Kolb, a partner at Dallas Polk & Wardwell, who is representing the Legal Aid Society as an intervenor, fleshed out Mr. Kalkstein's remarks, saying that they city is planning to have the Legal Aid Society handle about one-third of the roughly 45,000 conflict cases now assigned to private lawyers.

Mr. Kolb advised the panel that the city's plan would assign conflicts from other institutional providers to Legal Aid while the bulk of Legal Aid's own conflicts would likely remain with 18-B lawyers. The reference to "18-B lawyers" comes from the statute that governs the assignment of free lawyers to indigent criminal defendants, Article 18-B of the County Law.

The city has steadfastly refused to divulge any aspect of how it intents to handle conflict cases under its plan, maintaining that all details are confidential until contracts are awarded to the groups that will handle the cases.

Jonathan D. Pressment, who argued for the five county bar groups challenging the plan, told the panel that the city had provided it with no information as to how conflicts will be handled one contracts are awarded.

In the event, he said in an interview after the argument, unless the panel reverses Acting Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh's ruling in New York County Lawyers' Association v. Bloomberg, 107216/10, upholding the city's proposal, "the city will be free to alter the mix of cases going to private lawyers at any time without having to obtain approval from the county bar associations."

Excerpted from the New York Law Journal. To view the full article, click here.