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Government Law Center Staff

The Honorable Leslie E. Stein ‘81

The Honorable Leslie E. Stein ‘81

Director of the Government Law Center

lstei@albanylaw.edu

    The Honorable Leslie E. Stein ‘81, who retired as an Associate Judge on the New York Court of Appeals in June, will be the new Director of the Government Law Center (GLC) at Albany Law School starting full-time in January 2022. She currently serves on the law school’s Board of Trustees.

    After graduating from Albany Law, Stein began her legal career as the law clerk to the Schenectady County Family Court Judges. She practiced matrimonial and family law with the Albany law firm of McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams, P.C. where she made partner. During that time, Stein was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. In 1997, she left private practice to begin her judicial career as an Albany City Court Judge and Acting Albany County Family Court Judge. She was elected to the New York State Supreme Court, Third Judicial District for a term commencing in January 2002. She served as the Administrative Judge of the Rensselaer County Integrated Domestic Violence Part from January 2006 until February 2008, when she was appointed a Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Third Department. In October 2014, Judge Stein was nominated by former Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals and her nomination was confirmed by the New York State Senate on February 9, 2015.

    Stein is a past co-chair of the NYS Unified Court System Family Violence Task Force. She was a founding member of the New York State Judicial Institute on Professionalism in the Law and chaired the Third Judicial District Gender Fairness Committee from 2001 to 2005. She has also served on the Executive Committee of the Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, as an officer of the New York State Association of City Court Judges, and as a member of the Board of the New York Association of Women Judges. Stein has lectured and developed curricula for continuing legal education of attorneys and judges on multiple topics. She has a long history of involvement in various state and local bar associations and in a number of other professional and civic organizations.

    Stein received her J.D. from Albany Law School in 1981, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the school since 2012 but will step down to assume the position with the GLC. She received her B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    Patrick Woods

    Patrick Woods ‘12

    Deputy Director of the Government Law Center

    pwood@albanylaw.edu

      Mr. Woods was Assistant Solicitor General in the Albany office of the Appeals and Opinions Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney General. He primarily briefed and argued appeals on behalf of the State of New York in the New York Court of Appeals, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the Third and Fourth Departments of the Appellate Division.

      Before joining the Attorney General’s office, Mr. Woods was the 2015-2016 Supreme Court Fellow placed with the United States Sentencing Commission. During his fellowship, Woods worked with Commission policy teams to evaluate and recommend amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. That year he also researched and published a law review article evaluating a new measure for determining when federal offenders should receive enhanced punishment that was eventually included in the 2018 FIRST STEP Act. Prior to the Supreme Court Fellowship, Mr. Woods Clerked for the Honorable Peter W. Hall of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Richard K. Eaton ‘74, of the United States Court of International Trade.

      While here as a student at Albany Law School, Woods was valedictorian of his graduating class, Editor-in-Chief of the Albany Law Review, a Teaching Fellow for Federal Civil Procedure, an Executive Board Member of the moot court program, and interned for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, New York State Supreme Court, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Mr. Woods’ undergraduate degree is in Philosophy. Before law school, Mr. Woods worked as a paralegal for a law firm specializing in customs and international trade law.

      Mr. Woods has published on a variety of legal topics, as well as in a peer-reviewed philosophy journal, and his work has been cited in treatises such as New York Jurisprudence, 2d.

      Richard Rifkin

      Richard Rifkin, Esq.

      Legal Director

      rrifk@albanylaw.edu

        Rifkin has worked in New York State Government for 40 years. In addition to serving as Special Counsel to former governor Eliot Spitzer, he served as Deputy Attorney General for the State Counsel Division of the Attorney General’s office from 1999–2006. He also worked in the Attorney General’s office from 1979–1994, serving as counsel to the Attorney General and First Assistant Attorney General, among other positions. From 1994–1998, Rifkin was the Executive Director of the New York State Ethics Commission.

        Rifkin received a B.A. from Washington and Jefferson College and an LL.B. from Yale Law School. Since 1984, Rifkin has served as a member of the Chief Administrative Judge’s Advisory Committee on Civil Practice, which recommends changes in civil procedure in New York State courts. He was an adjunct professor at Albany Law School teaching government ethics from 2002–2006.

        Lisa Rivage

        Lisa Rivage

        Program Administrator, Inst of Legal Studies

        lriva@albanylaw.edu

          Lisa Rivage has been a member of the Albany Law School community for 24 years where she has been critical in the development of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program. Lisa assists multiple departments in providing CLE classes and maintaining the school’s CLE accreditation. In addition to managing CLE operations, Lisa also contributes to the Government Law Center as a program administrator. When Lisa is not providing CLE credits she enjoys spending time with her cats, Frank & Dean, and knitting, spinning and other forms of the fiber arts

          Melody Hakrness

          Melody Harkness

          CPRB Program Manager

          mhark@albanylaw.edu

            Melody is President and Expert Consultant at Harkness Consulting Solutions, LLC, a business consulting company specializing in strategic planning and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for groups worldwide.

            She previously served as Private Attorney Involvement coordinator for the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY), spearheading the Closing the Gap project, a nationally recognized, remote pro bono program. Under her leadership, pro bono assistance tripled services provided in LASNNY’s rural and isolated communities on housing and consumer issues and is modeled by programs in New York City, Ohio, Virginia, and California. The program now serves around 200 unrepresented litigants annually with participation from attorneys in areas as far as: New Zealand, St. Kitts, and the Netherlands. Additionally, she restructured and expanded the firm’s Attorney for the Day tenant defense pro bono program in the City of Albany to city courts in Glens Falls, Ogdensburg, Troy, and Plattsburgh, currently being funded by the Attorney General’s Tenant Legal Assistance Program. Before joining LASNNY, Harkness coordinated Legal Aid of North Carolina’s statewide Lawyer on the Line program.

            Harkness earned a Master of Legal Studies degree from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies with a community development concentration from North Carolina State University.

            In 2018, she was recognized with the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Exemplary Community Service Award, which recognizes a distinguished individual’s service to the greater Capital District community, promotes the advancement of women who are involved in or affected by the legal system, and provides other sustained acts of public service and community education.

            Mary Berry

            Mary Berry, Esq. '94

            Government Lawyer in Residence

            mberr@albanylaw.edu

              Mary joined the Government Law Center in 2011 when she was first named the Clarence D. Rappleyea Government Lawyer in Residence. She is also a member of the GLC’s Advisory Board and has in the past served on the law school’s national alumni council. She explores ways to enhance the education and training of a new generation of lawyers. In addition, she organizes the Warren M. Anderson Legislative Breakfast Seminar Series, a program which features informative speakers on legal aspects of current public policy issues facing New York State. She works to involve government lawyers with activities on campus.

              Prior to retiring from state service, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Department of Law and before that as assistant counsel to the New York State Science and Technology Foundation.

              Mary returned to school as a nontraditional student to pursue a joint degree at Albany Law School and the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. At graduation she was awarded the Government Law Center Prize from ALS and the Citation for Excellence in Labor Relations from Rockefeller College.

              In addition to her NYS service, she has worked in various governmental capacities since high school when she taught swimming and was a life guard at a city pool, to teaching health education and mentoring inmates, running a group home for delinquents for a town, to serving as a citizen diplomat with the International Visitor Leadership Program of the US State Department.

              Along with the GLC, her current volunteer experience includes moderating candidate events with the League of Women Voters. She has served on the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service with the NYS Bar Association and also serves as a judge for the US Constitution competition “WE the People” with NYSBA’s Law Youth and Citizenship Program. She hosts visitors from foreign countries with the International Center of the Capital Region.

              She holds three degrees: BA, MPA, and JD.

              Michele Ann Monforte

              Michele Ann Monforte

              Publications Editor

              mmonf@albanylaw.edu

                Michele Monforte grew up reading whatever she could find in her house, from the Daily News to the dictionary.

                That love of words prepared her for her current job uncovering errors and checking for consistency and accuracy in Government Law Center research reports, blog entries, speaker biographies, and a variety of other materials. She also prepares remarks and sponsor letters for the Warren M. Anderson Breakfast Series and other programs, and she assists with the publication of a yearly report on the activities of the Center.

                Michele began working at the Center in 1987. She regards this as one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

                Rose Mary Bailly

                Rose Mary Bailly, Esq.

                Special Consultant on Aging Law

                rbail@albanylaw.edu

                  Rose Mary Bailly, Esq., oversees the Institute for Aging and Disabilities Law at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School.  She is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Albany Law School.  She is the co-author of FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION OF THE ELDERLY (CIVIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2007) and author of Thomson West’s Practice Commentaries to Article 81, New York Mental Hygiene Law, and Article 5, title 15 of the New York General Obligations Law, powers of attorney. She has also authored numerous articles on guardianship law, powers of attorney, and elder abuse.  Ms. Bailly served as Executive Director of the New York State Law Revision Commission for sixteen years and has also worked as an attorney in the private sector. Ms. Bailly is a member of the American Bar Association, Real Property and Probate Section and the New York State Bar Association Elder Law & Special Needs Section, and Disability Rights Committee, and a Fellow of the Brookdale Center on Aging of Hunter College.  A graduate of Fordham University School of Law, she served as a Commentary Editor for the Fordham Law Review.

                  Robert Batson

                  Robert C. Batson, Esq. '75

                  Government Lawyer in Residence

                  rbats@albanylaw.edu

                    Robert Batson is Government Lawyer in Residence. His areas of interest include municipal law, state constitutional law, city and county charter development and revision, and gaming law.

                    He teaches classes in Federal Indian Law and the summer field placement class, and has taught State Constitutional Law in the past. He served in various legal positions in New York State government between 1976 and 2003 where he specialized in municipal law, administrative law and government regulation.

                    From 1978 to 1995, he served as a liaison between New York State and the governments of various Indian nations, and represented the State in negotiations on many issues, including land claims and gaming compacts.

                    Bennett Liebman

                    Bennett M. Liebman, Esq.

                    Government Lawyer in Residence

                    blieb@albanylaw.edu

                      Bennett Liebman is a Government Lawyer in Residence at Albany Law School and an adjunct professor of law.

                      He worked for Mario Cuomo while Cuomo was Secretary of State and served as his Counsel when he was Lieutenant Governor When Cuomo was elected governor in 1982, Bennett became his Special Deputy Counsel handling ethics matters, Freedom of Information Law questions, and many other issues. Beginning in 1988, he served as a member of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for more than a decade, including a term as its Acting Co-Chair. He concluded his government service in 2014 after three years as Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Gaming and Racing. At Albany Law School from 2001-2011, he worked at the Government Law Center as the Coordinator of its Program on Racing and Wagering Law and as the Center’s executive director.

                      In 2016, he came out of retirement to serve as the interim director of the Center. He has written hundreds of articles on horse racing, gambling and New York State government. From 2008-2011, he was a regular blogger for the New York Times Rail Blog authoring over 100 articles. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Union College and a cum laude graduate of New York University School of Law.

                      In 1997, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program and was the recipient of the Excellence in Public Service Award in 2010 from the New York State Bar Association.