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Chuck Otey’s Pro Bono Barrister for April 29

April 29, 2013 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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BROOKLYN BAR ASSOCIATION: Could Be Right Time for Lawyers To Go Solo

While law firms are shrinking and law schools face existential crises with plummeting enrollments, it takes a lot of nerve these days for a solo practitioner to hang out her shingle determined to build a practice based on her skills almost entirely on her own.

But for those new — or even veteran – lawyers who have always sought the independence and possibilities of an office bearing only their name, attendance at the April 30 Brooklyn Bar Program titled “Big Lawyers, Small Firms: Nuts & Bolts of Building Your Own Practice” is strongly advised.

Panelists include Jaime Lathrop, of The Law Firm of Jaime Lathrop, P.C., and soloist Perry D. Krinsky, who often leads discussions on the complex issue of legal ethics.

CLE Director Meredith Symonds, doing her usual job of highlighting the essential elements this top-notch program, notes that “Whether you’re joining a small firm or hanging out your own shingle, this course will help new as well as experienced attorneys understand how to develop a practice and what ethical concerns must be considered.”

Heading BBA is President Domenick Napoletano, ably assisted by President-in-waiting Andy Fallek and BBA Executive Director Avery Okin.
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Kings Inn Helps Members Tackle Stress
As members of the Kings County American Inn of Court learned Tuesday night, a growing number of cases involving alleged lawyer misconduct have been linked with stress.

While in earlier years many such violations were attributed to alcohol and drugs, experts such as guest speaker Chris Gillette have linked stress as the most identifiable source.  “Stress is part of the human condition and certainly inherent in a profession that is intertwined with conflict” according to documentation offered at the session effectively led by Appellate Division Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix and Larry DiGiovanna.

The program was aptly titled “Chaos, Panic and Disorder: Deal With It, Baby, An Evening of Stress Management.”

The same theme — echoed by Tuesday night’s panel gathered at BBA Headquarters, 123 Remsen St. — linked increasing stress with a shrinking economy.  The study noted that “Law firms have, accordingly reacted with downsizing, restructuring, and the development of new practices … the recession has simply accelerated and highlighted changes in the market for legal services and the means of their delivery.”

Gillette, who heads “The Center for Optimal Performance,” emphasized the basics for dealing with stress in the law firm. Key to his message was proper breathing in all situations, especially crises in the office. Participants spent a goodly portion of the evening inhaling and exhaling to escape the iron grip of daily stress.

Relevant highlights were presented in abundance by the panel headed by Justice Hinds-Radix and barrister DiGiovanna, who thoughtfully provided necessary “props,” adding to the professionalism of the illuminative show.
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Barrister ‘Harold’ 
Certainly ‘Had Enough’
Moderating with her usual deft touch was past Brooklyn Bar President Andrea Bonina.

Delivering a true star turn in the role of the beleaguered overworked, under-appreciated lawyer was Stephen Z.  Williamson.  Known on stage as “Harold Had Enough,” he was constantly beset by the inordinate demands of his lovely but spoiled wife Tamara Sorokanich, charmingly disdainful secretary Harriet Wong, delightfully demanding  martinette Joy Thompson (deputy Kings administrator) and bullying boss Jeff Miller, who’s prepared years for this plum role.

The only panel member exhibiting even a drop of human kindness to Had Enough was Justice Hinds-Radix who, in her role as the “motions” justice, graciously permitted the utterly unprepared lawyer to “submit” on a critical motion where he admitted he hadn’t the slightest idea as to the facts!

Joe Rosato — still fondly recalled for his stellar portrayal of the Big Bad Wolf — added the finishing touch of brutality as the over-demanding client constantly threatening to find a new lawyer if Had Enough didn’t fulfill his every wish and whim.

The well-prepared performance’ received a warm reception from all including Justices Arthur Schack, Carl Landicino and President-elect Ellen Spodek (the daughter of retired Justice Jules), Judge Robin Garson, retired Justice Gerard Rosenberg and Ross D’Apice, also a past president.

Catholic Lawyers Association President Sara Gozo thought it was an excellent performance, as did Inn Counselor Dave Chidekel, Inn Secretary Acting Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik, Steve Finkelstein (a past president who asked some tough questions) and Inn Masters Victoria Lombardi, retired Justice Martin Schenier, Mark Longo, former President Stacy Baden and Inn President Emeritus Edward Rappaport, a former justice.

Inn member Sara Gozo reminded us that the Catholic Lawyers Guild will hold its big annual dinner May 23 at Gargiulo’s restaurant on Coney Island.

It was a pleasure as usual to see the charismatic Stacy Baden at the Inn session. But we were pleasantly surprised to see her again, a few days later on Saturday at the above-mentioned Garguilo’s where she and lucky husband, attorney Justin Blash, were attending the 150th Anniversary of the Adelphi Academy of  Brooklyn. Adelphi has flourished under the presidency of Justin’s venerated dad, Roy J. Blash, the lead honoree of the evening and one of the finest educators in our fair city.

Capping off the Inn’s program was a delicious buffet dinner provided by Inn Executive Director Jeff Feldman and acting Inn Administrator Lucy DiSalvo.
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Women’s Bar To Honor Justice Marsha Steinhardt

Taking an active part in Tuesday night’s Inn of Court session, as she usually does, was Appellate Term Justice Marsha Steinhardt, whose service to the legal community will be appropriately recognized on May 29 by Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association.

This 95th annual dinner will take place at the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden starting with cocktails at 6 p.m. Justice Steinhardt will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The BWBA’s Sybil Hart Kooper Award will go to Criminal Court Judge Joanne D. Quinones, while the winner of the Beatrice M. Judge Recognition Award is Elaine Avery.
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Why Weiner Can Make A Comeback in Politics

When former Brooklyn Congressman Anthony Weiner was embarrassed into early retirement a few years ago because of shenanigans on Facebook that he foolishly denied, many thought he was finished in elective politics.

But those who know something about what really matters in electoral combat —  i.e. money, money, money —  predicted that Weiner would probably be able to rehabilitate his reputation sufficiently to again seek public office.

Why? After all, he was a four-term congressman, well-liked in his district and had been an impressive Democratic mayoral candidate who ran strongly in the 2008 primary, only to lose to former Comptroller Bill Thompson who, in turn, lost to incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In addition to his very supportive wife, a former top aide to Sen. Hillary Clinton, Weiner can  (literally) count on millions of dollars left over from his 2009 effort.

Most important of all, politicos agreed, Weiner’s “war chest,” estimated to be more than $4 million, is luring all kinds of would-be campaign aides and giving him instant credibility with the press.  He’s already doing well in the polls and if he can find some justification for blatantly lying about his bad cyber-behavior, he could be a factor in the mayoral race.

Wednesday night’s debate, absent Weiner, did not help or hurt the candidates, say observers.

Money talks. Just look at how the National Rifle Association was able to buy off enough members of congress to defeat a gun safety measure approved by 75 per cent of the American people.

Weiner’s strong showing in a Marist Poll shocked the political world because favorite Christine Quinn received 26 per cent, while upstart Weiner came in second with 15 per cent, leading Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Comptroller Bill Thompson and Comptroller John Liu.
It’s acknowledged that Weiner has superior name exposure, but many saw the survey as a blow to the primary chances of de Blasio, Thompson and Liu. Sal Albanese’s 2-percent  showing will not necessarily discourage the former councilman, who may seek a separate ‘line’ in the November election.

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