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Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association is working through the summer

Housing Court Judge Capell will sit for Lunch with a Judge amid busy schedule

July 27, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Natoya McGhie was installed as the president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association last month, and while most bar associations are taking a break for the summer, McGhie has decided to keep the BWBA busy all summer long.

“It was important for me to engage and connect with our members throughout this time,” McGhie said. “After installation, we immediately began to host virtual events. I am grateful that our members are attending.”

The BWBA has already held a mentorship meeting this summer. The committee has since been actively working to pair up mentors and mentees and is accepting applications for the program through Aug. 5.

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McGhie’s theme for the year is “Paving the Way Through Mentorship,” and she credits most of the breaks in her legal career to the advice of mentors.

Hon. Heela Capell. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

“I became involved in the BWBA and Women’s Bar Association for the State of New York, and it definitely expanded my network,” McGhie said. “Many of those people became friends and some of them lifelong friends. This is a difficult time for most of us, and a mentor can provide wisdom and advice so we can navigate how we practice law.”

The association’s next event will be a continuing legal education seminar on implicit bias hosted by Judge Joanne Quinones and law clerk Betsey Jean-Jacques. It will take place on Wednesday, July 29 at 1:15 p.m.

Judge Quinones and Jean-Jacques have hosted similar CLEs in the past for the BWBA and also for the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York. The duo try to keep the CLE fun and will often pose questions to the audience and discuss their answers before sharing their own expertise on the subject.

“Implicit bias is an automatic and involuntary attitude about color, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, language, culture, etc., that affect a person’s actions and decisions in an unconscious way,” Judge Quinones explained. “These actions and stereotypes are fostered by our environment, our education, our friends, our family, the news and play a role in the connections, associations and the evaluations we make about people.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, the BWBA will host its regular Lunch with a Judge series with Judge Heela Capell, who sits in the Kings County Housing Court and is a co-chair of the BWBA’s mentorship committee.

Judge Capell has become a regular attendee of BWBA events in the past year or two, and she credits the great work by the mentorship committee for first attracting her to the association and keeping her involved.

“I have gotten to where I’ve gotten, and it’s been a journey, through mentorship,” Judge Capell said. “I am so grateful for all of the mentors that I have gotten in my life, and I wanted to give something back in that respect. I also wanted to have a relationship with different people and meet different people. I’ve gained a lot from being a mentor.”

On Saturday, Aug. 8, McGhie and the presidents of the women’s bar associations from the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island — Miguelina Camilo, Amanda Norejko, Soma Syed and Rosa Tragni, respectively — plus Joy Thompson, president of WBASNY, will take part in EqualiTEA.

EqualiTEA is a celebration of 100 years of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.

“We are celebrating 100 years of the ratification of 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote, which paved the way for women to make greater strides towards equality,” McGhie said. “The BWBA is one of the 20 chapters of WBANSY, and Joy Thompson, President of WBASNY will be joining us. We are a diverse group of women, and it is inspiring for me to see the New York City Chapters collaborating with each other. In a time like this, we are stronger together. I’m looking forward to working more with our sister chapters for the benefit of our members.”

The final event the BWBA currently has scheduled for the summer is a virtual happy hour on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. This event will obviously be the most informal of the bunch and is meant mostly to give members an opportunity to catch up with each other as the summer comes to a close.

“We are planning virtual events into the fall,” McGhie added. “In September, we will host our Annual Membership Party and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.”


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  1. 1525boy

    I am out of state need help with my daughter who is mentally ill not on medication, her personal hygiene has gone and she lives with her garbage and land lord wants to evict her although I am paying her rent . I need to come down and apply for her guardian ship needs to know if courts are open? will they accept cases like this?