ALBANY, NY (06/01/07; 0913) LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Kathryn Grant Madigan of Binghamton, a partner in the firm of Levene Gouldin & Thompson LLP, has ascended to the office of President of the 72,000-member New York State Bar Association, the nation’s largest voluntary state bar. Madigan is the Association’s 110th president and fourth woman to hold the position.
Madigan brings to the presidency 28 years of bar service, and a dedication to securing the Association’s legacy as the voice of the New York lawyer. Her theme for the year is Leadership Through Service, and her primary goals include: boosting the Association’s membership, vigorously advocating for the Association’s legislative agenda, including increased funding for civil legal services, equal rights for same sex couples, and enacting a compact for long term care; increasing civic education programs such as the Lawyer in the Classroom project, and launching the first-ever President’s blog on the Association’s Web site to enhance internal and external communication.
“The law is a service oriented profession whose practitioners are devoted to making a difference in every community,” Madigan said. “I am committed to providing greater meaning, service, and leadership opportunities for our diverse membership. Like so many of our members, I credit the NYSBA for helping me become a better lawyer and more effective volunteer in my community. My goal is for every lawyer in New York to find a home at the State Bar and as President I will focus on instilling a great sense of pride in being a New York Lawyer.”
One of Madigan’s primary ambitions is to increase the Association’s membership. Continual membership growth is vital to securing the long term foundation of the NYSBA at a time when membership is still on the rise but the list of competitors continues to grow.
Madigan continued, “Unlike many other associations facing declining or flat membership, we can point with pride to the fact that our membership continues to expand. The fact remains that lawyers in this state alone can join any of 220 other bar associations. The State Bar Association must remain ahead of the curve and continue to offer programs, services, and influence that no other bar association in New York State can provide. I am determined to make the case for why every New York practitioner should be a member of the State Bar.”
Voice of the Profession
As President, Madigan is dedicated to ensuring that the New York State Bar Association remains the voice of the profession and continues to enhance its advocacy for New York lawyers on matters before the legislature, courts, and media. To that end, she will be launching the first-ever presidential blog to communicate with members, non-members, and the public-at-large.
She remains committed to being an aggressive backer of the Association’s legislative priorities, serving as the voice of the profession and vigorously defending the Association’s long-held principles. She will work to improve access to the legal system for those who are underprivileged and to create a compact for long-term care.
“New York has always been a bellwether state; a national leader that is out in front with expertise to explore solutions to today’s most pressing issues,” Madigan said. “We set trends, not follow them and our members are among the finest legal minds in the world. We plan on using their expertise to advance our priorities and to serve as an essential resource for policymakers in New York State and beyond our borders, in national and international arenas.”
Another major priority is to encourage more community involvement and education of young people in order to demystify the law and the role that lawyers play in society. Madigan plans to pursue lawyer in classroom projects as well as work with the Association’s award winning Law, Youth and Citizenship program to promote civic education, and to show youths, especially youths of color, that a career in the law is attainable and desirable.
Another important component of this initiative is to encourage senior lawyers to take advantage of mentoring and pro bono activities as they enter their “Second season of service.” There is an important role senior lawyers can play in community education, and Madigan will increase these opportunities.
Access to Justice
Madigan also pledged to advocate for civil legal services for those who are unable to afford them. While noting that New York lawyers provide two million hours of free legal services per year, the needs of many still go unmet, and the government must do more, as New York’s lawyers cannot do it all on their own.
“Access to justice is fundamental. Our system of justice is imperiled unless everyone has access to the legal system,” Madigan said. “New York is at the very bottom of the nation in terms of funding civil legal services, and we must do more for our most vulnerable citizens. While those who cannot afford a lawyer when accused of a crime are provided one by the state, 80 percent of the civil legal needs of the poor remain unmet. No one should lose their home or an essential, basic need, such as food, warmth or health care, because they cannot afford a lawyer.”
Madigan is a partner in the Binghamton law firm of Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP, where her practice areas include trusts and estates and elder law.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, received the 1975 Pacesetter (Outstanding Senior) Award, and was point guard for the Lady Buffs basketball team. She earned her law degree from Albany Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1979.
Madigan has a long history of bar leadership, including formerly serving as the youngest and first female president of the Broome County Bar Association. In 1987, she was named Outstanding Young Lawyer by the New York State Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section. She has held numerous leadership positions in the Association, including Chair of the Elder Law Section, Chair of the Membership Committee, founding chair of the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service, charter member of the Corporate Counsel Section, and member and officer of the Executive Committee, including her most recent service as President-Elect.
Madigan’s numerous contributions to the community include her support of The New York Bar Foundation, the Binghamton University Foundation, Inc., the Harpur Forum, and the United Health Services Foundation, Inc. She has volunteered as a basketball and indoor soccer coach and served as chair of the Broome County Child Care Task Force. Madigan is a life-member of the Girl Scouts of America, and performs as a Live Wire Player at the annual dinner of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
She has two sons, R. James “Jeb” Madigan a student at Cornell Law School, and Grant Madigan, a student at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto (Canada).
The 72,000 member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.