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The Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court, is composed of a Chief Judge and six Associate Judges, each appointed to a 14-year term. New York's highest appellate court was established to articulate statewide principles of law in the context of deciding particular lawsuits. The Court thus generally focuses on broad issues of law as distinguished from individual factual disputes. There is no jurisdictional limitation based upon the amount of money at stake in a case or the status or rank of the parties.
 
Excellence Initiative
On February 8, 2016, Chief Judge DiFiore announced the Excellence Initiative, a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of current processes and procedures to determine what is working well and what needs to be improved in the New York State Unified Court System. For more information on this initiative, including how comments may be submitted to the Chief Judge, please see Excellence Initiative.
 
Judge Michael J. Garcia Joins the Court of Appeals
On February 8, 2016, the New York State Senate confirmed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's nomination of Hon. Michael J. Garcia, and he took the oath of office as Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals.
 
Statement on the Passing of Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye From Acting Chief Judge Eugene F. Pigott, Jr., January 7, 2016.

We are sad to announce the passing of our beloved former Chief Judge, the Honorable Judith S. Kaye.

Chief Judge Kaye passed away last night. She was the first woman Judge and Chief Judge in Court of Appeals' history. She was the Court's longest serving Chief Judge. She served tirelessly and compassionately for over 25 years . The Court of Appeals and the entire New York State Court System is saddened by her loss. She has been an inspiration to all of us who were privileged to know her and she will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Press Release
 
Notice to the Bar - New Skills Competency Requirement for Admission to the Bar

Upon recommendation of the Task Force on Experiential Learning and Admission to the Bar, chaired by Associate Judge Jenny Rivera, the Court of Appeals has added a new section 520.18 to the Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law. This new provision requires applicants for admission in New York to establish that they have acquired the skills and are familiar with the professional values necessary to competently practice law. Applicants may satisfy this requirement by completing one of five separate pathways contained in section 520.18. Three of these pathways focus on courses and work experiences completed during an applicant's legal education, while two of the pathways allow an applicant to rely on practical experiences outside of law school. The Task Force determined that providing multiple mechanisms to satisfy this skills competency requirement was essential to accommodate the diverse backgrounds of the applicants who seek admission in New York.

The skills competency requirement applies to all new applicants for admission to the bar, whether educated in the United States or abroad, except those applicants who are admitted without examination (see 22 NYCRR 520.10) and those applicants who qualify for the bar exam under sections 520.4 or 520.5 of the Court's Rules (see 22 NYCRR 520.4, 520.5). Consistent with the Task Force's recommendation, the requirement will first apply to applicants who commence their legal studies after August 1, 2016, with the exception of those foreign-educated applicants who are required to complete an LL.M. program at an ABA-approved law school (see 22 NYCRR 520.6[b]), to which an August 1, 2018 implementation date will apply. This delayed effective date provides law schools additional time to develop experiential course offerings for LL.M. students.

In an effort to provide law schools with flexibility in designing programs to deliver practical skills training, the Court has also amended sections 520.3 and 520.6 of the Rules to delete credit limitations on clinics, field placements and externships for J.D. and LL.M. students.

A copy of the Court's order amending the rules can be found here.
View Task Force's Report here, and the public comments received here.
 
Notice to the Bar - Temporary Practice of Law in New York (Part 523) and Registration of Foreign Lawyers as In-house Counsel (Part 522)

The Court of Appeals has amended its rules to add a new Part 523 pertaining to the temporary practice of law in New York by out-of-state and foreign attorneys. The amendment sets forth the circumstances under which an attorney not admitted in New York may provide temporary legal services in the State. An attorney providing such temporary legal services may not establish an office or other systematic presence in the State or hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the attorney is admitted to practice here. Additionally, an attorney practicing pursuant to Part 523 is subject to the New York Rules of Professional Conduct and the disciplinary authority of this State.

The Court also has amended its Rules for the Registration of In-house Counsel (Part 522). Under the newly amended rules, registration is now available to a foreign attorney who is a member in good standing of a recognized legal profession in a non-United States jurisdiction, the members of which are admitted to practice as lawyers or counselors at law or the equivalent and subject to effective regulation by a duly constituted professional body or public authority.

The rule amendments are effective December 30, 2015. A copy of the Court's orders amending the rules is below.

View Amended Rules Here

 
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