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Professional Ethics and Virtual Mediation

Speaker(s): Deborah A. Scalise, Hon. Ariel E. Belen, Lewis Tesser
Recorded on: Oct. 19, 2020
PLI Program #: 311098

Lewis Tesser is a senior partner in the New York law firm off Tesser, Ryan and Rochman, LLP, concentrating his business law practice in representing lawyers and law firms, and other professionals—their agreements, mergers, dissolutions, professional responsibility and defending lawyers at the Grievance Committees.

He is the past President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, and Founding Director of NYCLA’s Ethics Institute. Lew is the former Chair of the General Practice Section of the New York State Bar Association and the current co-chair of State Bar’s Dispute Resolution Section Ethics Committee.  He is an ABA Fellow and the Editor-in-Chief of the treatise, “The New York Rules of Professional Responsibility”, published by Oxford University Press. 

Lew is the Chair of the Part 137 Joint Committee on Fee Disputes & Conciliation.  Attorney-Client Dispute.   He is the recipient of the 2017 Jack Newton Lerner Award for Excellence in presentations of Continuing Legal Education.  He is consistently selected to the New York Super Lawyer List.

Prior to private practice, Lew was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. He also served as a Judge Advocate in the United States Army. 

Lew is an Honors graduate from the National Law Center, George Washington University, a Masters graduate from the Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania and a graduate of the Harvard Law School Program of Instruction for Lawyers.

Deborah A. Scalise is a partner in the firm SCALISE & HAMILTON LLP in Scarsdale, New York which focuses its practice on the representation of professionals (primarily lawyers and judges) in professional responsibility and ethics matters and white-collar criminal matters.  Since 2002, Ms. Scalise has appeared before the Character and Fitness Committees, the New York State and Federal Grievance Committees and the Judicial Conduct Commission. 

Prior to 2002, Ms. Scalise was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Public Advocacy for the Westchester Region for the NY Attorney General’s Office and handled cases involving consumer frauds, civil rights and public integrity matters. Before that, she was Deputy Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department where she investigated and litigated complex disciplinary matters. She began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, where she handled economic crimes and arson cases.  Ms. Scalise earned a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from John Jay College, CUNY and a Master of Arts Degree in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College Graduate School, CUNY. 

In 2016, Ms. Scalise was appointed to the NYS Office of Court Administration CLE Board by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. She also testified before the 2015 OCA State Commission on Professional Discipline with regard to attorney mental health issues. Her authored materials, entitled “Ethically Dealing with Clients, Witnesses and Attorneys with Diminished Capacity,” were annexed to the Commission’s Report that issued recommendations as to the unification of the New York State disciplinary process. 

Ms. Scalise is a contributing author in “The Dementia Crisis” written by Robert Abrams, Esq., Editor, NYS Bar Association Journal, January 2017. She contributed a chapter to Oxford University Press’s The New York Rules of Professional Conduct: Opinions, Commentary, and Case Law, a treatise discussing ethical conduct, and frequently contributes articles related to professional responsibility and ethics issues for among others, the NYSBA Journal and State Bar News; the WBASNY and WWBA Newsletters; the WCBA Bar Journal; and the NYSTLA Bill of Particulars. 

In 2015 Ms. Scalise and her partner, Sarah Jo Hamilton were honored by NYCBA Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) for their continued support and contributions to LAP. In 2014, the firm received the WWBA’s Family Friendly Award.  In 2012, Ms. Scalise received WBASNY’s Marilyn Menge Award and in 2009 she received the Westchester County Above the Bar Pace Setter Award.  She was the subject of a profile in the ABA's Student Lawyer Magazine in its February 2005 issue.

Hon. Ariel E. Belen (Ret.) was an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department since 2008 and has served as a Justice of the New York Supreme Court trial and appellate terms since 1995. Justice Belen helped create the Kings County Commercial Division and then presided as a Justice handling complex commercial cases from 2002 to 2005. Over the course of nearly 18 years of distinguished judicial service, he developed a reputation as a calm, intelligent, fair, and hardworking jurist. He presided over countless matters covering the gamut of civil litigation from administrative to zoning law. A prolific writer, Justice Belen co-authored New York Trial Notebook, a comprehensive trial practice treatise. He was an instructor for many years at the New York State Judicial Institute where he taught all newly appointed or elected New York judges in the art of judging.

Justice Belen is fluent in Spanish. He can effectively communicate with Spanish speaking litigants and clients in all matters. Download Justice Belen's biography in Spanish.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Justice Belen is the current Chair of the Arbitration and ADR Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association.
  • Justice Belen presided for several years over the Jury Coordinating and Trial Assignment parts in Kings County through which all trial ready cases were calendared for pretrial conferences before jury selection. In this capacity, he settled hundreds of trial-ready cases valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. While he presided in these parts, he created innovative programs for early and efficient mediation.
  • As Administrative Judge of Kings County Supreme Court, he innovated in the creation of new rules, procedures, and court parts with the primary goal of early dispute resolution.
  • As an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, he has adjudicated thousands of matters on appeal in what is, in effect, the court of last resort for nearly twelve million people living in ten urban, suburban, and ex-urban counties within the New York metropolitan area.
  • As Chief, New York City Office of Corporation Counsel, Bronx Tort Division, Justice Belen was responsible for settling hundreds of matters.

Background and Education
  • Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department, Supreme Court of the State of New York, 2008-2012
  • Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, 1995-2012
  • Administrative Judge, Civil Term, Supreme Court, Kings County, 2007-2008
    • Associate Justice, Appellate Term, Supreme Court, Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts, 2005-2012
    • Justice of the Commercial Division, Supreme Court of the State of New York, 2002-2005
  • Chief, Bronx Borough Office, City of New York Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, Tort Division, 1994-1995
  • Deputy Chief, Brooklyn Tort Division, City of New York Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, 1993-1994
  • Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of New York Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, 1990-1993
  • Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Defense Division, 1986-1989
  • Criminal Trial Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Defense Division, 1981-1986
  • J.D., with Specialization in International Legal Affairs, Cornell Law School, 1981
  • B.A., cum laude, Brooklyn College, 1978