Brooklyn Boro

Profiles in Leadership: Anthony Vaughn’s goal is to let the community know the BBA’s doors are open

July 16, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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When Anthony Vaughn Jr. was tapped to be the treasurer of the Brooklyn Bar Association it tentatively put him in line to be its president in five years. When that happens, he will likely be the association’s third black president, and its first black male president, a fact that was a little surprising to him.

“My initial reaction was that it’s exciting, and I’m humbled, but I was also surprised by that,” Vaughn said. “This is Brooklyn. If you look around the borough at the racial dynamic, it’s stunning that there have been so few African-American presidents.

“There has only been one so far, Armena Gayle will be the second, and I’ll be the third,” he continued. “I’m hopeful that by seeing Armena and later myself as president, it will help bolster the message of outreach that we have.”

Anthony Vaughn with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Vaughn was born in Washington D.C. the same year his father graduated from law school. The family moved to Hawaii when his father became a JAG officer in the Navy and after a little over three years they moved to Texas when his dad got a job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Fort Worth.

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Vaughn’s parents got divorced when he was just seven years old, and he lived with his mother. However, his father still played a prominent role in his upbringing and he was the one who talked him into being an attorney at the age of 12.

“Archaeology is something that I was passionate about for a period of time,” said Vaughn, who admitted he might have been influenced by Indiana Jones. “My father intervened right when I was about 12 years old. He said that didn’t make any sense. He said I should reconsider and be a lawyer like him or a doctor and anything else would be a waste of time. He was a no-nonsense military guy. I got the point.”

Vaughn with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Vaughn, after all, had grown up watching his father attend bar association meetings in Texas, and wanted to be like his father so he decided to go to Morehouse College and then later the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

At Morehouse, Vaughn majored in political science, but his studies were interrupted nearly right away when his father died in a car accident.

Vaughn called the event very traumatic for him and after that he was forced to lean more heavily on his mother for guidance, and later his wife Matilda Miranda, whom he said was instrumental in supporting his later career moves.

After college Vaughn had to make a decision about where he was going to live. It came down to Washington D.C. or a move to Brooklyn where he had many friends. He chose Brooklyn and through a friend he was introduced to State Senator John Sampson.

“I met Sen. Sampson, introduced myself, told him my story and what I was looking to do,” Vaughn recalled. “He said, are you interested in litigation? He asked if I was willing to work for a small firm. I said yes to both and then he made a call and sent me two blocks away. Told me to find a door on the corner of Flatlands and Remsen Avenue. I walked up and I met Carl Landicino, who was partnered at Genovesi, Landicino and Genovesi.”

Meeting Landicino changed Vaughn’s life, even if he didn’t realize it at the time. Landicino and his partner Anthony Genovesi hired him as an associate and one of the first things they did was hand him an application to the Brooklyn Bar Association. He was expected to join, but also to attend many of its events as well as events at other bar associations, the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn in particular.

“A lot of people don’t appreciate the benefits of bar associations,” Vaughn said. “I don’t think I did then, although I certainly do in hindsight because all of the jobs I’ve gotten, the connections I made, a lot of them come from those networking events that I got to go to in the year 2000. At the time, Carl and Anthony were telling me that I have to go to this event, or that event, and I just remember thinking that it was a lot.”

Vaughn’s membership was more casual in nature until Domenick Napoletano recommended him for a position on the Brooklyn Bar Association’s board of trustees in 2012. Later, he became an officer at the suggestion of Frank Carone and David Chidekel.

Vaughn said that he has never felt like he was treated differently for being black at the Brooklyn Bar Association, though he does admit that he will often recognize how many, or few, African-Americans are in the room on occasion. It’s part of the reason he has helped to encourage the bar association to reach out to the community.

“Law students and college students thinking about the practice of law, we want to send the message that there are opportunities for growth here and we want them to come join us,” Vaughn said. “The doors are not closed at this bar association. These doors are open and they’re always open.”

One of the events Vaughn recently helped to organize involved BBA members feeding the needy at CHiPS soup kitchen and shelter in Park Slope. He explained that the bar’s duties for outreach don’t just include providing attorneys, but helping out in a way that reminds people of the positive impact bar associations can have on the communities.

Vaughn currently works for Miller Leiby and Associates PC, a job he got through his friendship with Jeffrey Miller and Doron Leiby through the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Nathan R. Sobel American Inns of Court. There, he is able to put his background as a litigation attorney to use.

“I’ve known [Miller and Leiby] for quite a while as well. We initially met through the bar association and I have been friends with them for years, our families know each other, but we never worked together before. I was talking to them about the vision I had for my career and casual talks intensified a little bit and we decided that we can do something special together.”

Vaughn does a lot of insurance defense work, including professional liability and general liability, as well as commercial work nowadays. His past work included a lot of construction-based practice working with architects, engineers and landscape designers. As he puts it, just about everything except criminal defense.

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