Meet the Bar Leaders: Outsider Aimee Richter made Brooklyn her home
The Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) is filled with dedicated members of the legal profession who often come from Brooklyn families with legal backgrounds. However, President-elect Aimee Richter grew up in Long Island, didn’t know a single attorney in her youth and had never set foot in the borough before attending Brooklyn Law School (BLS).
“I’ll never forget the first time I drove to Brooklyn,” Richter recalled. “I was going to Brooklyn Heights, but when I saw the Verrazano Bridge, I got nervous and got off the highway. I asked someone where I was, and he just laughed and told me to get back on the highway.
“When I finally got to Brooklyn Heights, I couldn’t believe it,” she continued. “BLS set me up with an apartment on Pierrepont Street, and I just remember driving toward the Promenade thinking that this was the most beautiful place ever. When I got home, I told my mother that I was moving to Brooklyn.”
Richter, who originally hails from Cedarhurst, graduated from Lawrence High School before she went to SUNY Albany where she majored in psychology. To this day, she doesn’t have a good explanation for why she decided to go to law school rather than become a psychologist. Even her decision to pick BLS was somewhat random. She had applied to “all of the local law schools,” including Fordham, Columbia and NYU, but said that BLS offered her an academic scholarship and an apartment.
From that day on, she never left the borough, eventually buying her first and subsequent homes in Brooklyn, where she continues to reside to this day.
Richter landed a coveted summer associate job with a major law firm in her second year at BLS. However, the fit wasn’t right for her, and she said that she was never happy in that atmosphere. Luckily for her, she saw an advertisement for a law clerk position at Goldberg & Cohn, LLP on a bulletin board at the beginning of third year and decided to give it a shot.
“I remember seeing this little, tiny thing on a board that said, ‘Goldberg & Cohn, law clerk,’” she recalled. “I went in and met Richard [Goldberg] and Steve [Cohn], and that’s how I met my mentors for the next 10 years.”
After clerking at Goldberg & Cohn for a year, Richter eventually became an associate. Richter eventually became an associate and then a partner. Cohn said that he remembers Richter for being a sharp young lawyer right out of law school. He recalled a case before Judge Elliot Golden, who was known for making his decisions prior to his motions day, where Richter actually convinced the judge to change his decision.
“He was the type of judge who said, ‘unless you can convince me otherwise, this is my decision,’” Cohn said. “Aimee worked really hard, found a Court of Appeals case regarding the issue and managed to use that to leverage the judge into changing his mind. It was early on, but I remember that it showed great insight.”
Richter became a strong matrimonial and family law attorney during her 10 years at Goldberg & Cohn and eventually decided to open her own firm, the Law Offices of Aimee L. Richter. She says she became a more polished attorney during a stint at as a partner at Bender, Rosenthal & Richter LLP.
“(Susan Bender) took my rough skills and helped me to become a trial lawyer,” Richter said. “As soon as I went out on my own, she sent me to Houston for a 10-day matrimonial trial advocacy course and I started second seating her during trials.”
Since January, Richter has been with the law firm Lee, Anav, Chung, White, Kim, Ruger & Richter LLP, where she helps to run the matrimonial division with Judy White. So far, she is thrilled with how she fits with that firm and its potential for growth. “I wanted a firm with a partner whom I could grow with, and [White] was looking for the same thing,” Richter said.
In addition to working at her new firm, Richter keeps busy as a special master of the Appellate Division, First Department, where she handles mediations of matrimonial and family law appeals. She also gives regular Continuing Legal Education lectures, co-chairs the Brooklyn Bar Association Family Law Section, and is an active member of the New York State Bar Association House of Delegates.
She looks forward to June, when she’ll begin serving as BBA president. “I still feel like a kid, like that 26-year-old who walked into the BBA boardroom for the first time, but then you realize, ‘Oh my god, I’m an adult,’” Richter said. “You look back at all of the people that have been the BBA president, and I’m so in awe — it’s hard to believe that I’ll be one of those people.”
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