In 1974, hearing officers Abe Linderman of Illinois, Kenneth Cameron of California, Harvey N. Finger of Arizona, Ross Williams, Jr. of Iowa, and Robert V. Steinhilber of Florida, attended an administrative law conference in California. Together, they adopted and signed a pledge to organize a national organization of administrative law hearing officers. In fulfillment of that commitment, the following year they formed the National Association of Administrative Hearing Officers. Two years later, the New York State Administrative Law Judges Association was born. One can read about these early years in a paper generously written by Hon. Stanley J. Cygan1.

This year marks the 40-year milestone in the history of the New York State Administrative Law Judges Association. Despite the fact that the records of our nascent association are MIA, I can happily report that we’ve accomplished much in 40 years, hosting many NAALJ conferences (both in New York City and upstate New York), addressing administrative law decision-making issues at various levels of government, finding ways to provide free and low-cost continuing legal education programs, and enriching the lives of our members through networking opportunities and life-long friendships.

Now that my tenure as president has drawn to a close, I would like to reflect on our accomplishments over the last two years. At the beginning of my term we began talking about hosting another national conference— and in the last few weeks we agreed that we would do so again in October 2017. Also at the beginning of my presidency, we had a small setback— we lost the low-cost CLE courses that Pace Law School had been providing, due to the shutdown of their Center for Continuing Legal Education. But as one door closed another opened and we entered into an agreement with the Practicing Law Institute to provide our members with free access to their courses. Our board has continued to meet quarterly, with social gatherings at local pubs both in NYC and in Albany before each meeting. These meetings are open to general members and to non-members who are considering joining. They’ve been lots of fun. We’ve met new colleagues, made new friends, and strengthened relationships among ALJ/hearing officers.

An organization becomes successful through the contributions of its members, and there are so many ways to be an active member. I joined NYSALJA and became involved by putting up a new website. You may choose to contribute to one of three standing committees: Technology, Professional Development, and Public Relations. My committee, Technology, deals with keeping our website up and running, helping to provide an efficient, cost effective means for teleconferencing, and any other techie needs we may have. If you are interested in technology, contact me directly. Our Professional Development committee, chaired by our current president, Hon. Edward R. Mevec, deals with setting up and/or facilitating continuing legal education for our members. Public Relations, chaired by Hon. Vilda Mayuga, fields questions from the press and reaches out to government agencies should the need arise.

But there are other ways to lend a helping hand. Contribute here, on our website. Write an article or share a funny story. Share your thoughts on an issue that has an impact on what we do. Have an idea for a legal education course that you’d like to present? Contact Judge Mevec directly. With the upcoming national conference only a year away, the Conference Committee will need lots of help. Start small… come to our quarterly meeting.

Don’t put it off— getting involved in NYSALJA is rewarding and professionally fulfilling.


Eric Zaidins
Immediate Past President