It is truly an honor and privilege to have become the next President of the Richmond County Bar Association.
I have been practicing law for 19+ years, and of those years, I have served this Association, either as a Director or Officer, for the past eleven years. I am now entering my 12th year as your President.
I am a member of the law firm of Jacobi, Sieghardt, Bousanti, Piazza & Fitzpatrick, P.C., having started in the firm as an associate in June, 1999. My now partners taught me that our Association is only as powerful as the dedication and efforts of its members, as well as the value of this Association to our role as practicing attorneys.
As President of this Association, I have some big shoes to fill, not only in following our immediate Past President, Thomas Hall, but the Past Presidents that came directly out of my law firm; namely, Sidney Jacobi and Clelia D’Alessandro, the founders of my firm, Judge Pasquale BiFulco, Mordecai J. Jacobi, George A. Sieghardt, Mark Piazza, and Grace Mattei, who became President after she had left the firm to open her own practice, but who worked for the firm of “Jacobi, Sieghardt” as an associate for a number of years.
For those of you that don’t know, the Mission Statement of our Association reads as follows: “The Richmond County Bar Association is dedicated to advancing its members’ professional development, promoting the highest standards of excellence in the practice of law and facilitating access to legal services for the Richmond County community.” It is an Association that was founded by attorneys for promoting the interests and development of attorneys. As such, I am here to work for you, our members. As President, I have no intention of reinventing the proverbial wheel, but instead simply want to keep our Association pointed in the right direction.
My goals for the coming year are simple. First, I will continue to work closely with the NYSBA in opposing the mandatory reporting requirements being imposed by the Office of Court Administration, requiring attorneys to report pro bono services and financial contributions to organizations engaged in providing legal services to the poor and underserved. Instead, I believe it is necessary to explore other alternatives and options. As lawyers, we understand the serious unmet needs of the indigent, and we give of ourselves voluntarily on a regular basis. However, our desire to give volunteer services should not be subject to the pressures of coercive reporting requirements.
Second, I will continue to look to expand the efforts of our Volunteer Lawyers Project, that is spearheaded by our very own Sheila McGinn. This Project assists qualified homeowners in defending foreclosure actions, and helps many of these individuals procure loan modifications, enabling them to remain in their homes.
Third, I will seek to involve all of our members, both young and old, in our various committees, activities and Bar functions. I want all of our members involved, and I want everyone in our Association to have a voice.
Next, I look forward to working with the Judiciary to ensure a smooth transition into the new Richmond County Courthouse, which is slated to open sometime in September. As with every new venture or beginning, there are always growing pains and kinks that need to be ironed out. At that time, if you, our members, have any comments or concerns, I want to hear them, so that we can properly address them with the Judiciary.
Finally, with the assistance of the other Officers, as well as our capable Board of Directors, we are ready to tackle any new issues that are expected to arise in the coming year.
I would like to thank Thomas Hall, our immediate Past President, for his hard work and dedication this past year. You are a true professional in every sense of the word, and you always had the best interests of our members in mind during your Presidency.
Finally, I look forward to working for you, our members, and look forward to working with the Judiciary to accomplish all of our intended goals.