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A message to the Brooklyn legal community during the coronavirus pandemic

May 5, 2020 Frank Carone, President of the Brooklyn Bar Association, Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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What message can I appropriately provide during a time which resulted in unprecedented changes to our lives? Previously, could anyone really imagine the entire society closing like it has? And now, where do we go from here? Since the answer to these rhetorical questions is of course subjective, I think I would like to offer a bit of objective encouragement.

But first, I think it appropriate to begin remembering in a very special way, Justice Johnny Lee Baynes, Justice Noach Dear and Justice Gerry Rosenberg. Although they each came from different communities, they helped create the fabric of the unique, diverse and compassionate family that is the Brooklyn bench. For those of us who have the pleasure and privilege to practice in the Kings County Supreme Court, we certainly feel the loss and perhaps even a sense of surrealism. Special recognition should also be given to our Administrative Judges, Lawrence Knipel and Matthew D’Emic, whose leadership, together with the court personnel and OCA, did the very best that they could in managing this silent invisible enemy. For those who have lost a loved one, who are still ill, or who have family members who are ill, we pray that you find strength.

Hon. Noach Dear. Photo: Mario Belluomo/Brooklyn Eagle

In times of crisis, when events outside our control occur, we must have the strength and discipline to look within, to take cognizance in our own thoughts and perceptions. This is of course not easy. I recently re-read an incredible quote from Marcus Aurelius: “That which stands in the way becomes the way.” Meaning, when an unforeseen event occurs and we must pivot, then that becomes the new path and perhaps we should take it. It becomes “the way.” For example, is there any doubt that video conferencing via Zoom or Skype will become part of our new normal? In my mind, it’s a fait accompli. And perhaps a good one. When appropriate, it can be extremely efficient.

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Remember, to borrow a phrase from author Ryan Holiday, we can neither control nor change obstacles and outside forces. But we can change our perspective. So, change your perspective and the obstacles disappear. Moreover, isn’t there a sense of camaraderie permeating through our profession? Of course, at the Brooklyn Bar Association we are fortunate to share such a sense of camaraderie already, yet the bonds grow a bit stronger.

Hon. Johnny Lee Baynes. Photo: Mario Belluomo/Brooklyn Eagle

Therefore, there is no better time than the present to get involved and encourage others to do so as well. Your gain will be innumerable. I say to our members — become more involved —you will be reminded of the support you have. I promise, you will find a warm welcome here. I will conclude here by reminding everyone that we are at our essence a service organization and as such here for you. If anyone would like to speak to me or any member of our Executive Board, please do not hesitate. We look forward to hearing and seeing everyone soon. Be well.

These remarks by Frank Carone were taken from his most recent President’s Message in the newsletter of the Brooklyn Bar Association.

Hon. Gerry Rosenberg, a founder of the Nathan R. Sobel Inns of Court. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

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