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Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association installs Meryl Schwartz as 102nd president

June 12, 2019 By Rob Abruzzese
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Members of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association took over the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department in Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday for the installation of its 102nd president, attorney Meryl Schwartz.

Schwartz is a personal injury attorney in Brooklyn who graduated cum laude from the University at Albany and then got her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. In addition to now heading the Women’s Bar, she is an active member of the Medical Malpractice Committee of the New York City Bar Association and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, where she co-chairs the Women’s Caucus, and is the secretary-treasurer of the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus.

Nearly 200 members, their friends and families filled the elegant courthouse as presiding justice Hon. Alan Scheinkman welcomed everyone. From there, the mistress of ceremonies, Helene Blank, took over the ceremony.

From left: Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Madeline D. Kirton, Andrea Hill, Angelicque Moreno, Natoya McGhie and Sue Novick Wasko.

“At a time where bar associations struggle to attract younger lawyers, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, with its contributions to the community, show us why bar associations help the profession and are necessary,” Justice Scheinkman said. “For that, I thank you.”

Blank introduced Marea Wachsman, one of the BWBA’s delegates to the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York and a close friend of Schwartz’s. Wachsman slightly embarrassed her friend by explaining how she got her to join the association.

“I was asked to join the BWBA by Holly Peck,” Wachsman recalled. “One night I was at an event when Meryl texted me. I told her where I was and invited her along. She said back, ‘Absolutely not, I’m way too busy.’

From left: Helene Blank, Samantha Breakstone, Carrie Anne Cavallo, Hon. Nancy Bannon, Hon. Theresa Ciccotto, Marea Wachsman, Michele Mirman and Deborah Johnson.

“I asked her again later on and again she was too busy,” Wachsman continued. “Then one day I went to a ‘Lunch with a Judge’ event with Justice Marsha Steinhardt. Afterward, I told Meryl and she said, ‘Why didn’t you invite me, I would have gone to that?’ It wasn’t long after that she joined and now she’s certainly going to be busy.”

Outgoing President Carrie Anne Cavallo also shared a few words, and mostly reflected on her past year at the helm of the organization. She also discussed the many new members the association has attracted in recent years, and noted that the association, the second largest of its kind in New York State, is in good hands with both Schwartz and the up-and-comers behind her.

After the brief speeches were wrapped up, Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix installed the officers and delegates, Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik installed the board of directors and then Hon. Marsha Steinhardt installed Schwartz as president.

From left: Laura Ashikaga, Joanne Minsky Cohen, Barbara Crcevic, Hon. Connie Mallafre-Melendez, Lisa Michael, Gina Raddawi, Hon. Lillian Wan and Victoria Wickman.

“I remember the sense of excitement that I felt when asked to join the leadership of this association,” Justice Cyrulnik said. “It was a time of great change — just after the Brooklyn Women’s Bar merged with the Brooklyn Counsel of Women Lawyers and became a chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York. The years I spent as an officer of this association and the state bar were some of the most professionally fulfilling of my career and the relationships that I formed remain some of the most important in my life.”

“Meryl is warm, welcoming and smart,” Justice Steinhardt said. “She knows medical malpractice inside and out, and is imbued with what I find to be a rare quality, common sense. If it was all that common, more people would have it. She is a great sport, easygoing and a pleasure to be with. This is an association with a long history of strong women at the helm. Meryl will be dynamite in her new role. She is organized and wants to get the job done.”

After the installation was complete, Schwartz corrected Wachsman’s story and simplified it so there weren’t so many ‘I’m busy’ text messages included. She did thank everyone for getting her involved and pointed out how influential women attorneys have become in Brooklyn.

Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik (left) and Meryl Schwartz.

“This year, the women of the BWBA are front and center in the legal world,” Schwartz said. “Just to name a few, Michele Mirman will be sworn in as the president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. A month ago, Angelicque Moreno was sworn in as the president of the Academy of Trial Lawyers. And just last week, Joy Thompson was sworn in as the president elect of the women’s state bar. Brooklyn women are on the rise.

“The last few years of the BWBA, we have gone from strength to strength. We are over 500 members strong and there is no telling where we will go next.”

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