Mary Ann Stathopoulos installed as Bay Ridge Lawyers Association president
The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association put off continuing legal education this month in order to host a special “Passing of the Gavel” ceremony to install its new President Mary Ann Stathopoulos during its monthly meeting at Mama Rao’s Restaurant in Dyker Heights on Wednesday.
“Tonight is a special event, the passing of the gavel ceremony,” said immediate past president Joseph Vasile. “It’s a really beautiful experience. It was great for me when I stood up here a year ago and heard all of the accolades and advise everyone gave me. I appreciated it and it will be difficult for Mary Ann to get through the entire evening.”
Starting with Ray Ferrier, who served as the association’s president before any others in attendance, the past presidents all lined up in order of when they served. One by one, they handed off the gavel to each other and offered Stathopoulos congratulations or words of advice.
The association picked up the ceremony after past President Dr. Harry English led a delegation of Bay Ridge Lawyers to England in 1985, where they attended a meeting of the Inns of Court. Impressed with the ceremony, the BRLA decided to adopt the practice for itself.
Ferrier started the ceremony by not only offering Stathopoulos encouragement, but reminding her and everyone in attendance of some of the history of the association.
“The BRLA was formed in 1954 by a group of local Brooklyn lawyers who wanted to meet once a month to discuss their practice and problems affecting their practice,” said Ferrier, who attended his first meeting in 1973. “They started having meetings where they would just have coffee and cake and then it graduated to dinner meetings like we have now.
“The BRLA has been very innovative in certain areas,” Ferrier continued. “We were the first bar association to start continuing legal education programs, the first to have a winter seminar where you can get five credits in one day, we were the first association to have trips to Washington to have attorneys admitted to the Supreme Court.”
As the past presidents spoke for a minute or two each, the common theme was one of camaraderie and friendship. Many explained that the work she has already done as a director and officer has already proven to them that she will be a great president.
“I happen to have worked with Mary Ann on numerous winter seminar committees,” Stephen Chiaino explained. “I can attest to how diligent she is, how experienced she is in terms of negotiating contracts. But more importantly she has the attention to detail and a passion for making sure everything goes right. That’s very difficult in this legal profession. Mary Ann always rises to the occasion. If something is wrong, she figures out the solution.”
Stathopoulos works as a senior corporate counsel for global compliance at Cisco Systems Inc. A few attorneys remarked at the incredible legal acumen and attention to detail that a lawyer must possess to hold such a job.
“Mary Ann is simply one of the most brilliant and diligent attorneys that I know,” said Helen Galette. “When we all worked at 8212 on Third Ave., she would be in the back office spending hours reviewing these 100-200 word contracts for her clients. She would read every single word and had a knack for tweaking the contract by one or two words to make it significantly better for her clients. People rely on her and seek her legal acumen from all over the world.”
Once the ceremony was completed, Justice Theresa Ciccotto installed Stathopoulos and the other officers and directors.
With immediate past president Joseph Vasile’s tenure over, Mario Romano was added to the slate of officers as corresponding secretary. He joins fellow officers William Gillen, vice president; Dominic Famulari, recording secretary; and Adam Kalish, treasurer.
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