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Volunteer Lawyers Project honors former Chief Judge Lippman, two others at gala

May 12, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Volunteer Lawyers Project honored Frank Carone (left), Hon. Jonathan Lippman (center) and Steven M. Cohen during its annual gala at BAM on Wednesday. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) held its annual gala where it honored three, including the former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on Wednesday night.

“At the VLP, we believe that poverty should not be a barrier for people seeking access to justice,” said the VLP’s Executive Director Heidi Lee Henderson. “Because of your incredible support tonight, the VLP will be able to continue its important mission of providing clinical, pro bono legal services to low-income Brooklyn residents, keeping families together, stabilizing finances and ensuring families access to justice.”

Lippman was honored alongside Frank V. Carone, executive partner at Abrams & Fensterman, and Steven M. Cohen, chief administrative officer and general counsel at MacAndrews & Forbes. Three others, Alejandro H. Cruz, W. Rudolph Kleysteuber and Kevin M. McDonough, were given the Champion of Justice Awards.

The awards were bestowed on the honorees because they have “demonstrated unwavering commitment to serving the public good and equal justice without regard to economic status,” Henderson said.

Lippman was presented with the Tradition of Excellence Award by gala Co-Chair Betty A. Whelchel, who cited many of the programs that he put into place as chief judge as the reason for being this year’s recipient.

“As the state’s chief judge, he championed equal access to justice in New York and around the country,” Whelchel said. “He made New York the first state in the country to require 50 hours of pro bono work prior to bar admission and established the Pro Bono Scholars and Poverty Justice Solutions programs.”

Carlo Scissura, co-chair and president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, introduced Carone and described him as a man who has given so much back to Brooklyn and his country.

“He has so many accomplishments, he’s a member of so many organizations, but most importantly he is a dear friend to many of us,” Scissura said. “He’s been a brother to me, he’s a terrific Brooklynite, a wonderful father and husband; Frank is the embodiment of what this organization stands for, what attorneys across America should believe in.”

The Honorary Chair Stephen P. Younger presented Cohen with his award. Younger discussed Cohen’s success as a private practice attorney, as general counsel of MacAndrews & Forbes and the fact that he’s held multiple top positions within Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration throughout the years. He also discussed Cohen’s love for Brooklyn and the fact that he is the man that many turn to when they need advice.

“Steve is an extraordinary leader, a dedicated public servant and a Brooklyn superstar,” Younger said. “He is called [on] by high-powered lawyers, judges, elected officials, captains of industry because Steve dispenses the most sage, the most honest and the most ethical advice of anybody I’ve ever met.”

Finally, mistress of ceremonies Melissa Russo, a television journalist working for NBC News Channel 4, presented the Champion of Justice Awards along with Henderson and Lynn E. Judell, VLP secretary and development committee chair. Cruz, Kleysteuber and McDonough were honored because they “exemplify the very best of the legal profession,” Russo said.

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