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Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association honors two judges at annual dinner

June 7, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Women's Bar Association honored Hon. Lawrence Knipel and Hon. William C. Thompson during its 98th annual awards dinner on Monday. Pictured from left: Joanne Minsky Cohen, BWBA President Helene Blank, Hon. William C. Thompson, Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix and Hon. Lawrence Knipel. Eagle photos by Mario Belluomo
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The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association (BWBA) hosted its 98th annual awards dinner at the Liberty Warehouse in Red Hook on Monday where it honored Justices Lawrence Knipel and William C. Thompson and also established an award in the name of one of its members.

“Thank you everyone for coming to this beautiful event at this gorgeous venue to celebrate the 98th year of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar,” said BWBA President Helene Blank. “The BWBA has been working 98 years promoting quality and excellence in the law and in society. We are so excited to be honoring these wonderful people and to be establishing the Joanne Minsky Cohen Award.”

This is the first year the organization is giving out the Joanne Minsky Cohen Award. Cohen, the principal law clerk to Hon. Bert A. Bunyan, is a former officer of the BWBA and current board member. She was honored in 2013 by the BWBA for her work in the fight against breast cancer. Blank explained that it is for that work as well as her contributions to the Brooklyn legal community that the association named the award in her honor.

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“Tonight the BWBA establishes the Joanne Minsky Cohen Award to honor those who exemplify the meaning of public service,” Blank said. “Joanne is a woman of courage, perseverance and, above all, honor. She is a pillar of the BWBA. She has devoted her life to public service, not just in her job or the court system, but has devoted hard work to the BWBA. Joanne is beloved by everyone and we’re proud to name this award for her.”

The first recipient of the Joanne Minsky Cohen Award was Hon. William C. Thompson. In her introduction of Thompson, Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix spoke about his distinguished career as a state senator, a City Council member and a judge as reasons that he was the perfect first recipient for the award.

“I was asked to introduce the first recipient of the Joanne Minsky Cohen Award, or rather I twisted Helene’s arm to let me do this,” Justice Hinds-Radix admitted. “In addition to his exceptional career, he constantly gives back to his community. He’s always been a mentor for young lawyers and also some of us judges.”

Knipel was honored with the Beatrice M. Judge Recognition Award. Blank introduced him and spoke about the work he has done during his time as administrative judge of the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Civil Term as the reason for bestowing him with the award. Knipel took his time to talk about the tremendous job Blank has done as president of the BWBA, the great impact Thompson has had in his career and how important Judge was to the Brooklyn judiciary.

“She was the first woman ever to sit on the supreme court bench in Kings County which is truly amazing,” Knipel said. “It was up until 50 years ago that the Supreme Court bench in this progressive county was and had always been 100 percent male. It was two decades after that when women were first even allowed to apply for membership in the American Bar Association.”

Finally, Blank spoke briefly about it being her final event as president of the BWBA. She thanked many members for assisting her during the past year, especially Sue Novick Wasko, who co-chaired the annual dinner with her, and Hon. Genine Edwards, Sara J. Gozo, Michele S. Mirman and Marea Wachsman, who were on the annual dinner committee.

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