The Brooklyn Bar Association looks good for its age

This is a historic year for the Brooklyn Bar Association as it turns 150 in June and, despite the fact that we are now entering the third year of the COVID pandemic, it has reason to celebrate.

The association kicks off its year-long celebrations with a flag-raising ceremony on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. The event will give us the opportunity to mark the occasion and unveil our new logo.

Helping us celebrate will be a pair of former presidents and Justices of the Supreme Court of Kings County, the Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik and the Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine. Judges Cyrulnik and Sunshine will each discuss the association, its history and how it has helped shape their careers.

The association will also be joined that day by Letitia James, New York State Attorney General and proud Brooklyn resident. James is not a member of the BBA, but as the state’s top attorney, she was our first choice to be the keynote speaker to kick off the celebration.

Following this launch event, the BBA is hard at work organizing a series of events which it will announce during the flag raising ceremony.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik.
Eagle archive photo by Rob Abruzzese

One event that is set to be announced is our 150th Anniversary Dinner, taking place on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at El Caribe at Mill Basin. This will be our first major “dinner” event since our annual dinner held in December 2019. At this time, the Honorable Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, the Hon. Desmond Green, the Hon. David Vaughan and Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services.

Not having dinner in 2020 or 2021 has been devastating for the association as well as for the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation, the charitable arm of the BBA, which plans to raise funds through these events. We were hoping to have one last year, but even after delaying it until March, many of our leaders were still feeling nervous.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine
Eagle archive photo by Rob Abruzzese

This event will be different from past years. First of all, for 50 years, dinner has always been held in December. It will also be the first time in recent memory that it will not be held at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

Instead, a June date and location in El Caribe will allow us to hold part of the event outdoors. It is also a large enough venue that we can limit the number of participants and be able to socially distance as much as possible. Although there is still a chance that we will be forced, due to our unknown COVID future, to cancel or postpone this event, we are confident for the moment that this venue will finally allow us to organize our dinner again and do it safely.

This year we were guided in the creation of events by a journal of the 100th anniversary of the BBA in 1972.

On May 24 of that year, the Association held a grand event at the Brooklyn Museum with the Hon. Robert A. Morse, the US Attorney for the Eastern District, who read a message on behalf of President Richard Nixon. It also featured speeches from then-mayor John Lindsay and then the governor. Nelson Rockefeller.

The recipient of the annual award that year was the Hon. Nathan R. Sobel, who is now the namesake of the Nathan R. Sobel American Inns of Court, a bar association that operates here in Brooklyn.

The deputy. Theodore Jones Memorial Golf Outing has also been moved, back to the spring when it was traditionally held, and it will take place on May 2 this year. It will again be held at Colonia Country Club in New Jersey, which was Judge Jones’ favorite place to golf. This event was canceled due to COVID in 2020, but successfully took place last October after some delays.

If you need a mentor, now is the right time

In my last column, I talked about the BBA’s Mentoring Committee, which is hosting a free evening of interest for lawyers interested in mentoring or being sponsored on Thursday, January 27 at 6 p.m.

This event is generating a lot of interest, especially since the BBA offers all lawyers with less than 5 years of experience a free membership if they participate in the mentoring program.

The Diversity Committee of the Women’s Bar Association for the State of New York is hosting a program called “The Power of Mentorship” on Friday, January 28 at 6 p.m. This program will talk about studies that show the role that mentoring plays in the legal field, particularly in relation to the career progression of diverse talent, performance enhancement and the realization of potential.

It will be moderated by WBASNY Diversity Committee Co-Chair Raquel Miranda and will feature speakers including the Hon. Joanne Quinones; Acting Supreme Court Justice and Commissioner Franklin H. Williams; Natoya McGhie; the outgoing president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association; Kim P. Berg and Jasmine I. Valle.

COVID Interruptions

One of the first bar associations to return to in-person events was the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association. He installed President William Gillen in a ceremony at Mama Rao’s home in Dyker Heights last September, and the turnout was so good that the group continued to meet monthly for continuing legal education.

However, even the Bay Ridge lawyers were slowed down by the Omicron variant and canceled their meeting scheduled for this month. The group still plans to meet again on Wednesday February 23 where Paul Bugoni of Stewart Title Insurance Company is expected to present a CLE.

Civil Service Loan Cancellation Program

The BBA and the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association are co-sponsoring a free program available to all attorneys in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program on Wednesday, January 19 at 6 p.m. This event will feature Professor Stephen Brown, Associate Dean for Registration. at Fordham University.

The federal program helps government employees have part of their student loans forgiven if they make 120 qualifying payments over a 10-year period. Dean Brown will review the 2021 qualifications and changes designed to expand the pool of qualified candidates.

Robert Abruzzese is the former legal editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the current director of member services for the Brooklyn Bar Association. Now a legal columnist for the Eagle, Abruzzese writes for the BBA and the local legal community. For more information on joining the Brooklyn Bar Association, you can contact him by email at [email protected].

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