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Panel at Brooklyn Law School discusses Brooklyn’s increased commercial litigation

April 6, 2018 By Paul Frangipane Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The panel of speakers moderated by Gregory LaSpina. From left: Carlo Scissura, Hon. Sylvia Ash, Hon. Lawrence Knipel and LaSpina. Eagle photos by Paul Frangipane
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As the sun set through the windows of Downtown Brooklyn’s skyscrapers, a panel of speakers spoke about the Brooklyn courts’ newest influx of cases. With more development comes more commercial litigation.

The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section hosted a bench and bar meet and greet at Brooklyn Law School’s Subotnick Center on Thursday night to discuss how the new Brooklyn is affecting the court system. Its guests included Administrative Judge Lawrence Knipel, Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash and keynote speaker Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress.

“There’s no question about it: In recent years, Brooklyn has changed. It’s like walking on the moon,” Knipel told a crowd of dozens of litigators. “I’m committed and the Kings County courts are committed to fashioning a commercial division equal to the needs of today’s invigorated commercial environment.”

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And the administrative judge of Civil Matters contextualized that environment with some statistics. In 2008, Knipel said, Brooklyn saw 589 commercial cases. Now, those numbers have risen 300 percent to 1,709 cases. That makes Brooklyn to the No. 2 county in the state for commercial cases after Manhattan.

Coming from a background at the side of former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Scissura gave a condensed history lesson on how Brooklyn became the way it is and what may be in store.

“I think we haven’t even seen — I’m sorry to say — the beginnings of it,” Scissura said.

He called the amount of investment in New York City “unprecedented,” with some $150 billion invested in the last few years. That comes after a time when New York and Brooklyn were struggling with crime and facing rezoning.

Rezoning around Downtown Brooklyn’s many subway stations helped turn the area into the largest new residential community in the city, Scissura said. And he isn’t sure if the city’s development is going to stop.

“We’re going to look back in 20 years and say, ‘The city really was reshaped,’” Scissura told the crowd. “Again, all of this means more work in court but for my fellow attorneys, it means a lot of cases, a lot of work for all of you.”

As presiding justice of the Commercial Division, Ash gave insight into the many hats judges have to wear in the commercial part.

On smaller cases, Ash says they often begin from a dispute between close friends or relatives who are in business together, bringing their drama into the courtroom.

Ash said those personal issues are the saddest parts of the cases.

“We have to tackle the legal aspect as well as the equitable aspect as well as the personal family aspect and it can be very tiring,” she said.

When it came down to it, the crowd wanted to know if the Brooklyn courts can handle the wave of cases knocking on the door.

To a curious audience member, Knipel quipped, “More litigation, bring it on. Bring it on. We’ll do it. We’ll do it expeditiously.”

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