Published in the WINTER 2020 journal
Happy winter! I hope everyone is enjoying the cold crisp air and finding some time to get outside and enjoy some fun winter activities. By the time you read this the holiday season will have just passed and I hope everyone enjoyed celebrating the holidays with your loved ones.
It’s hard to believe I am already halfway through my Presidency. It has certainly been an interesting and busy time for me, as well as for my Board. I have been enjoying the interactions and camaraderie of all my fellow members as well as with the administrators of the Court System I have been working with.
I have been involved in the formation of a new group of Bar leaders in the metropolitan area including Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester Counties. We met for the first time in November, and the Presidents of the respective Bar Associations shared our thoughts and plans regarding maintaining and growing our Bar Association memberships, as well as agreeing to form a tight knit group to help have a greater collective voice with regard to issues that confront the future of our legal profession, such as the Chief Judge’s plan to restructure the Judicial System in New York State and other important issues. We will be meeting again in January and I look forward to collaborating with these great Bar Leaders and bringing some of the ideas and changes they have implemented in their Bar Associations to our membership. It should be noted they are interested in a number of things we are doing with our Bar Association as well.
That brings me to our vibrant New Lawyers Committee which has been developing creative plans and programs, including sponsored events, as we continue to work to recruit new lawyers and law students to the RCBA . There were two programs of note this fall. One was a happy hour at Daddy O’s where Meredith Herd, Esq., founder of Seek to Be, LLC, a philanthropic consulting business specializing in sports philanthropy, spoke of thinking outside the box in developing her legal career. Another program was held in November at Painting with a Twist, where the attendees enjoyed a creative night of painting and conversation. Both events were well attended and I encourage all members, not just new lawyers, to join in the fun in the future. The New Lawyers Committee is also in the process of rolling out the new Mentorship program and I encourage everyone to become involved. If you would like to be a mentor please contact Charlene at the Bar office and provide your area of expertise along with a Bio so we can upload you into the database. This program is essential to the recruitment of new members and I believe the maintenance and growth of our current membership. If we feel more connected we will be more involved. I can’t thank the Chairs Jesse Eisenberg, Courtney Begley and Elen Krut enough for all they are doing to grow the Association and to continue to provide great programs that are fun for all.
Our annual Golf and Tennis outing was very wet and unfortunately a washout with the golfers receiving a voucher to play in the spring and the tennis tournament being rescheduled to a day to be determined in the spring. However the Dinner was well attended, and a very nice time was had by all.
The Wellness Committee, chaired by Karen Soren, Esq., sponsored several events. For October Breast Cancer Awareness month, RCBA joined with SIWBA and JALBCA for an evening of meditation and healing at the beautiful Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Other events included a Coffee Break sponsored by Dunkin Donuts and a “Walk With a Judge” with Judge Karen Wolff. We did not let the rain deter us that evening and we brought the event inside for hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and delightful conversation with the attorneys and jurists in attendance.
The RCBA heralded in the holiday season with our annual Holiday Party to thank and honor the Court personnel for all they do for the Courts in Richmond County and for us. The event was held at Above at the Hilton Garden and the attendance was great. It was a wonderful evening filled with the spirit of the Season.
The New Year brings the rollout of Mediation in the Civil term of Supreme Court as well as the anticipated rollout in the Matrimonial parts as well. Justice Green expects there will be some changes and adaptations to the program as currently constituted, and he has stated that he welcomes any suggestions and feedback from our membership regarding what works and doesn’t work with the program.
The New Year also brings to the Bench two newly elected Civil Court Judges, Judge Robert Helbock and Judge Matthew Blum. Despite their election to our Civil Court, Administrative Judge Anthony Cannataro has assigned Judge Helbock to Richmond County Criminal Court and Judge Blum to Kings County Civil Court to start their careers on the Bench. I did have the opportunity to meet with him regarding these assignments and although the Richmond County Civil Court will remain as constituted this year, Judge Cannataro has assured me that this will all be revisited next year with the hope we can have our locally elected Judges sitting where they were in fact elected to sit.
Lastly, we will be going to Puerto Rico January 16-20 for our annual Destination CLE and have picked the beautiful Wyndam Grand Rio del Mar as the venue. Hopefully you have chosen to join us to get out of the cold and into the heat for a long weekend of sun, fun and CLE. If not, hopefully you will find the time to enjoy a warm retreat or a snowy adventure this winter. Whatever you do, make sure to always find time for family and friends and know that the Richmond County Bar Association is here for you.
Get involved. Stay involved.
Jay Duskin, President, RCBA