Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn attorney Peter Eikenberry honored by U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals for highest professionalism

October 25, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York attorney and Brooklyn resident Peter G. Eikenberry Eagle file photo by Rob Abbruzese
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New York attorney and Brooklyn Heights resident Peter G. Eikenberry has received the prestigious American Inns of Court’s 2016 Professionalism Award from the U.S. Second Circuit, which each year presents the award to an attorney whose life and practice display the highest character, integrity and continuing dedication to the highest standards of the profession.

The award was presented at a ceremony in late September by U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert Katzmann and Steven F. Molo of the American Inns of Court Award Committee. The award program, at the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan, was emceed by Court of Appeals Judge Susan L. Carney. 

Eikenberry will be recognized again on Nov. 5 at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., when Professionalism honorees from the 13 U.S. Court Circuits will be introduced at the annual Celebration of Excellence Dinner of the American Inns of Court, hosted by U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel J. Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayer.

The American Inns of Court, modeled on the historic English Inns of Court, is an association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals dedicated to promoting the ideals of excellence, civility, professionalism and ethics in contemporary legal practice. There are 382 chartered inns nationwide with 30,000 members.

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In presenting the Second Circuit’s Professionalism Award to Eikenberry, the court’s Awards Committee highlighted his distinguished record as a mentor to younger legal practitioners in government, private practice or government service, saying, “A major dimension of mentoring is the guidance, not only by word but also by example, of senior lawyers whose professional lives reflect civility, competence and ethical attitude in all things.”

In addition to laudatory comments from Katzmann and the American Inns of Court Award Committee, two colleagues who have worked with Eikenberry, Michael D. Patrick, formerly of Fragomen, LLP, and Mary Beth Hogan of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, also spoke to the audience of more than 200 family members, friends and colleagues.

Hogan described her experience as a young associate in being recruited by Eikenberry for a Federal Bar Council initiative to get attorneys more deeply involved in addressing important social issues. The topic was homelessness. “We didn’t solve the problem,” she said, “but it did engage us with the issue and through that engagement we all became familiar with an organization called Nazareth Housing.” She and several others from the group went on to become Nazareth board members and they have helped that group grow exponentially.

“Peter is an instigator for good with an infectious smile,” said Hogan. “But he is also someone who follows through, who cares deeply about giving everyone a fair shot and who did so much to help me find my footing in a new city and a new profession. This award is about mentoring and … the selection committee picked well. I think the best way we can honor Peter is to find a young lawyer and give him or her an opportunity to grow, like Peter did for me and I’m sure for many others.”

Eikenberry is a litigator in private practice specializing in complex commercial litigation in the New York state and federal courts, including employment, art law, contracts, fraud, international, securities, and bankruptcy adversary disputes. Through his work on the New York City Bar Association Committee to Encourage Judicial Service, the diversity of the judiciary in New York has increased greatly.

A volunteer civil rights lawyer in Mississippi in 1966 with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Eikenberry’s commitment to advancing civil rights has continued throughout his career and includes his leadership of a human rights mission to Northern Ireland, work as a volunteer counsel at a Federal Detention Center in Texas, service as general counsel of Bedford Stuyvesant D & S Corporation, and as convener and steering committee member of the New York Conference on Immigration Representation headed by Katzmann.

His civic and public service activity has included longtime leadership at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the Storefront Academy Harlem. A candidate for U.S. Congress in Brooklyn in 1970, he was an elected delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

In the professional arena, Eikenberry has served the Federal Bar Council in several capacities, including editorship of the Federal Bar Council Quarterly where he is now editor emeritus. He is a fellow of the New York Bar Foundation and is a member of the Second Circuit Court Committee on Civic Education. Eikenberry earned his undergraduate and law degrees from The Ohio State University, where he was note editor of the Law Journal and is a current member of its National Council.

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