From the Editor
Meet Our New Executive Director: Joan Salzman
By Bennette D. Kramer
Joan Salzman, the new Executive Director of the Federal Bar Council, started on July 21. We sat down with her the week before she began and spoke about her background and goals for her tenure at the Council.
Joan’s background is impressive and varied. She graduated from high school in Hewlett, New York, where she was valedictorian of her class. She then went to Yale University and graduated magna cum laude, followed by Harvard Law School. Joan clerked for the Honorable Jose Cabranes when he was a U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut. She was in private practice from 1983 to 1994 at Hughes Hubbard & Reed and Friedman, Wang & Bleiberg.
Joan began 20 years of public service in 1994 when she joined the City of New York Conflicts of Interest Board, rising from Associate Counsel for Enforcement to Deputy Executive Director and Chief of Enforcement. At the board, Joan participated in trials and all aspects of litigation and directed and managed all agency litigation. She also formulated policy and commented on and proposed legislation on ethics and financial disclosure. Among other responsibilities, Joan prepared annual reports and budgets and taught seminars on ethics and international classes for foreign dignitaries and United Nations personnel.
In 2005, Joan joined the City of New York Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (“OATH”) as an administrative law judge. OATH was set up in 1979 to enhance the professionalism of ALJs throughout the city and to be New York City’s central administrative tribunal. It has the authority to conduct administrative hearings for any agency, board, or commission of the city. The subject matter covered by OATH involves all aspects of city life, including emergency services, construction, the Human Rights Law, low income housing, police seizure of property, city jails, public health, licensing, land use, taxi service, and metropolitan transit. Joan was initially an ALJ, but during her two five-year terms at OATH she became deputy commissioner and then supervising administrative law judge. In addition to her duties as an ALJ presiding over trials and settlement conferences, writing decisions on the merits, and supervising the OATH ALJs, Joan worked with senior management and coordinated the policy and projects of the OATH tribunal. Joan says that the skills she developed at OATH will come in handy at the Council. She supervised the other ALJs and managed the judicial work and operations. OATH provided 75 CLE classes throughout the year, so Joan has plenty of experience in dealing with topics and managing CLE credits. She believes her experience at OATH will help her manage the Council’s staff and myriad projects. She is used to multitasking.
Joan hopes to create a welcoming atmosphere for the members. She is excited about participating in events that bring the bench and bar together, such as the Fall Retreat and the Winter Bench & Bar Conference. As she is getting to know the Council, Joan will attend as many meetings as she can to meet members and see what they are doing. Through this process, she will determine how she can best contribute to the mission of the organization.
She wants to promote the mission of the Federal Bar Council and enhance professionalism as she did at OATH, where she oversaw many CLE programs. She looks forward to working with the program committee to present CLE programs that deal with the federal courts and federal practice.
Joan hopes to foster access-to-justice programs at the Council. She is very interested in the Public Service Committee and its efforts to provide, in keeping with Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann’s initiatives, volunteers to represent immigrants in various stages of the immigration process. She is particularly interested in the opportunity for limited representations by volunteer lawyers in connection with discovery or motions that the immigration project offers.
Joan also would like to join Judge Katzmann’s efforts to make courts more open to those beyond the legal community. In June, Joan arranged and attended the keynote address by one of the ALJs she has worked with at OATH at the 8th Grade graduation ceremonies at P.S. 169 for children with emotional and learning difficulties. A number of volunteer tutors, including one of Joan’s friends, work with the children. The speech was very powerful for the children. The tutors at P.S. 169 lavish attention on the children, and work with the dedicated staff. Joan recruited the ALJ to give the address in response to a request to identify a speaker who is a judge and who could serve as a role model for the students. Joan envisions bringing those kids into court or judges into the school to teach the children about the courts.
Joan wants to increase the Council membership by reaching out to law firms and lawyers who have practiced fewer than 10 years. Following the lead of Council President Anello, she also would like to reach a broader cross-section of practitioners through the formation of new committees focusing on such practice areas as bankruptcy and intellectual property. Also, she wants to increase diversity in the Council’s membership.
In the next several months, Joan expects to meet board members and work with the president and president-elect of the Council to map out her responsibilities.
We all should welcome Joan to the Council and do whatever we can to make her transition into the organization as smooth as possible.