Welcome From The Chair

Borger2I am honored and privileged to be the Chair of the Corporate Counsel Section for 2019. It has been my pleasure to serve on the Section’s Executive Committee since 1999, and I was first Chair fourteen years ago. Why have I volunteered my time to serve this Section for so many years? An easy answer, it’s all about the people - the members of the Executive Committee, the members of the “Big Bar” that we work with, the law students we mentor and find internships for, and the Section members we meet at our CLE programs and other activities.

Who are we? We are 1,500+ members strong, made up of 55% in-house counsel, 33% in private practice, with the remainder law students hoping to end up with in an in-house position and others who have a general interest in the in-house corporate practice. Approximately 65% of us practice in New York, though many live or work in surrounding states, and there is a 14% international contingent. We have almost as many members who practice in large law departments or firms as those who practice as one of five or less attorneys and just as many who are solo practitioners. From an age breakdown, our members are equally spread among the different age bands. The majority of our members have been in practice for more than 20 years. By gender, men make up approximately 60% of our membership. If we are not you, we can be you.

What are the membership benefits? The quarterly subscription to INSIDE, interesting CLE programming for which you receive a discounted registration rate, free lunchtime webinar informational briefings and access to the Section’s Committees. 

The editor of INSIDE is the Section’s Immediate Past Chair, Elizabeth Shampnoi. Liz always compiles interesting articles. The Spring/Summer 2019 issue contained articles ranging from ADR and diversity, assessing conflict, sanctions, implications of CCPA on business and choice of law & forum selection clauses.  If you have an idea for submission, please contact Liz directly ([email protected]).

The Section committees include INSIDE/Publications, CLE and Meetings, Diversity, Membership, Pro Bono, Technology and New Media, and the Diversity Internship Program. Our committees are always looking for new members. Please reach out to me or our Section’s Liaison, Sally Bratten, if you are interested in becoming involved.

I would be remiss if I didn't highlight one of our Section’s gemstones, the Kenneth G. Standard Diversity Internship Program. The program, in its 14th year, is named to honor the NYSBA Past President who has shown a lifetime commitment to initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in the legal profession. The Section works with various New York State law schools to select diverse law students to apply for summer internships in corporate law departments with New York State companies or organizations. This year the annual reception was held on July 17th and honored Ken, the thirteen interns (from nine New York State law schools) and the nine host corporate organizations. This was the second time the Section placed an intern through the New York State Bar Foundation in memory of past Section Chair Jana Springer Behe, following Jana’s untimely passing in 2017. A wonderful time was had by all. The reception was held and hosted at the midtown Manhattan office of and by Pryor Cashman, LLP. There were a number of dignitaries and judges in attendance, led by the Honorable Jenny Rivera, an Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. 

Let me provide you with a flavor of the programming the Section produces or co-produces. In November 2018 the Section put on its bi-annual CLE Ethics for Corporate Counsel, which was well attended and received. In December 2018 we conducted a free luncheon webinar entitled “Blockchain and Smart Contracts 101”. At the Annual Meeting, in January 2019, the Section partnered with the Dispute Resolution Section to produce an afternoon of CLE under the title “ADR in the Boardroom and the Headlines: Not Fake News”. The following week, we partnered with the NY Women’s County Bar Association in presenting “Breaking Through Bias to Achieve Rainmaking and Leadership Success”. On October 17th the Section held our Eighth Corporate Counsel Institute, at the offices of Kelley, Drye & Warren in midtown Manhattan. The Program included plenary sessions updating issues surrounding labor & employment law, start-up companies, ethics for corporate counsel, cyber security & data protection, diversity & inclusion and intellectual property.  We held several free lunchtime webinar informational briefings on topics including Strategic and Pragmatic Considerations for the Workplace in the #MeToo Era, the EEOC Pay Data Rule and Alternative Fee Arrangements.  The Section also sponsored a CLE program entitled “Handling Law Enforcement Investigations as Corporate Counsel” and co-sponsored one with the Dispute Resolution and Commercial & Federal Litigation Sections on Mediation Advocacy. As we end the Section’s year, we are pleased to announce that we are co-sponsoring a CLE Program with the Antitrust Law Section at the Annual Meeting, which will be held on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Please visit www.nysba.org/am2020 to view the agenda and register for the event.

Thank you for perusing the Corporate Counsel Section’s webpage and learning more about us. If you are not a member, I hope you will consider joining us. The cost is a mere $30 per year, in addition to your annual NYSBA membership dues.  If you have any questions/comments for me or want to volunteer to became active in a Committee or other activity, please contact me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mitchell F. Borger

Watch a Message from Mitchell Borger here.

Mitchell F. Borger is a partner in the midtown Manhattan law firm of Ellenoff Grossman Schole LLP, practicing in their Labor & Employment Group. Mitch was formerly Vice President, Assistant General Counsel for Macy’s, Inc., the iconic department store chain. For more than 30 years, Mitch has practiced in-house, starting with the NY Power Authority, United Merchants & Manufacturers, Inc. and from 1995 until May 2019 with Macy’s. He started his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the Bronx District Attorney. During his time at Macy’s, Mitch counseled clients in the areas of litigation supervision, store-line operational, loss prevention and employment issues. The key employment issues include defense of discrimination claims, reductions in force, training and alternative dispute resolution - with an emphasis on arbitration programs. In addition, he spent six years managing Macy’s in-house litigation team and seven plus years as a manager of the Company’s employment legal practice. His proudest Macy’s work involves participating in 23 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, including the last 12 as its In-House Legal Clownsel helping to supervise 900+ clowns. In 2017, Mitch was awarded the Parade’s Distinguished Service Award. 

Mitch is the current Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Corporate Counsel Section. He was also its 2005 Chair and is a twenty-year member of its Executive Committee. In 2010-11, he served as a member of NYSBA’s Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct. The next year, Mitch chaired a Commercial & Federal Litigation Section Working Group which issued the “Report on Faster, Cheaper, Smarter Litigation Practices”. Mitch has been a past CLE speaker on topics such as emerging issues in employment law, employment arbitration, consumer racism, corporate public relations in the electronic age, litigation management and retail loss prevention training. 

Mitch is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta and Albany Law School of Union University.