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Bay Ridge Lawyers hosts ethics CLE following trip to Atlantic City

January 30, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Bay Ridge Lawyers have been off to a busy year so far as they met for a five-credit CLE seminar in Atlantic City followed by another ethics seminar less than a week later. Pictured from left: Past President Rosa Pannitto, Mark Longo, President Stephen Spinelli and Dominic Famulari. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Fresh off of their trip to Atlantic City, the Bay Ridge Lawyers invited attorney Mark Longo to their monthly meeting for a continuing legal education (CLE) lecture on ethics in Bay Ridge on Wednesday night.

Of course the two events had nothing to do with each other. The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA) had long sought Longo for the ethics lecture and the trip to Atlantic City is an annual event for the group. This year the group arrived in Atlantic City on Jan. 19 and stayed through Saturday.

“Our trip to Atlantic City was a great success,” said Stephen Spinelli, president of the BRLA. “We had a five-credit day of lectures on Friday featuring our six judge panel — Judge John Ingram, Judge Lawrence Knipel, Judge Barbara Panepinto, Judge Patricia DiMango, Judge Joy Campanelli and Judge Matthew Sciarrino.

“Each judge covered a different topic, the lectures were some of the best you’ll hear, and we had a near record turnout which was pretty good considering that some of our members were in Washington D.C. that same day for the inauguration.”

The reason for the trip is, of course, for members to network and to get to know each other, but the five CLE credits are also an important part of fulfilling their annual requirements with the state bar association.

“After the trip, I was really proud because one of the judges came up to me and told me that the Bay Ridge Lawyers really like each other and get along as one big group of friends,” Spinelli said. “He told me that it was incredible the way we try to help each other and the way we try to help new lawyers coming into the group.

“Obviously other bar associations do that too, but I was proud to hear that because we do truly enjoy spending time with each other. Atlantic City is always a fun trip where we get to learn and then go have dinner and some fun with each other.”

On Wednesday, the group met again for its monthly meeting in the back of The Pearl Room on Third Avenue. During his lecture “Ethical Issues and the Attorney Escrow Account,” Longo spoke for about an hour and covered topics including: problems that lead to complaints, how to deal with complaints, when attorneys need to hire their own lawyers, how to keep proper escrow accounts and how to write a retainer letter.

“I’ve been a practicing lawyer in Brooklyn for almost 30 years and talking about ethics is something that people don’t want to do too much of,” Longo said. “But this is the life that you’ve chosen, so it’s important to grab onto it and to make sure that your license is intact.”

Longo explained that he chose to focus on the escrow accounts during his speech because they are one of the most common reasons why attorneys get into trouble.

“Things that get lawyers into trouble aren’t always things that involve being a lawyer,” Longo said. “It’s also important that you don’t ignore a disciplinary complaint. This is huge. The next worst thing to not responding is to respond in an angry manner. Be remorseful and contrite and, most importantly, tell the truth. They’ve been doing this for a long time and they’re not going to miss a trick.”

The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association will meet again next Feb. 22 at their regular meeting location at The Pearl Room in Bay Ridge.


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