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Columbian Lawyers return to in-person events with Judges Night

December 3, 2021 Robert Abruzzese, Legal Columnist Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Brooklyn legal community took another big step towards normalcy last week when the Columbian Lawyers Association held its first in-person event since March 2020.

Everyone had to show their vaccine cards at the door and many in attendance were wearing masks, but the Italian-lawyer group was able to reconvene for the first time in nearly two years at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island on Thursday night.

Judiciary night was an appropriate first event for the Columbian Lawyers as it is one of its biggest events of the year. It might not have been their usual large crowd, but it was a strong turn out as the association celebrated Brooklyn’s judiciary.

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Vice President Salvatore Scibetta led the event by introducing all of the judges in attendance — first the Italian-born judges, of course. That was followed by an instruction of the non-Italian judges from Brooklyn and then the judges from Staten Island who were also in attendance.

The event is intended to highlight the good work the judiciary does here in Brooklyn. There are not usually awards given out, and Thursday was no different, however, President Christopher Caputo took an opportunity to single out judge Hon. William Mastro, who is retiring from the Appellate Division, Second Department at the end of the year.

“Judge Mastro served his country first as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy and then he served the people of New York State in various capacities as both a trial judge and an Appellate Judge,” Caputo said. “But the term that best describes him is a friend. He is a friend of the association, to the members. He truly is an officer and a gentleman.”

The Columbian Lawyers Association is hoping that with this event it can go back to hosting regular in-person events. The association had been holding CLE online, but no pasta was served, and everyone agreed that they couldn’t wait to return to Garguilo’s.

From left: Bruno Codispoti on the keyboard, Hon. Lawrence Knipel and Kwok Kei Ng on the guitars prepare for the BBA Holiday Party on Dec. 16.

Brooklyn Women’s Bar Holiday Party Up Next

The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association will be the next major local bar association to hold an in-person event when it hosts its Holiday Celebration at the Brooklyn Bar Association on Tuesday, December 14.

The BWBA has held consistent events throughout the pandemic, perhaps even being the busiest bar association in the borough thanks to immediate Past President Natoya McGhie and current President Madeline Kirton. They have even had in-person events in recent months. However, those in-person events were usually outdoors. This will be the BWBA’s first return to Remsen Street since February 2020.

From 5:30 until 8 PM on Tuesday, Dec. 14, the BWBA is planning to raffle an Apple Watch, will host a live auction, and will collect new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. Vaccination proof and masks are required to attend.

The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association is co-sponsoring an event, along with the Brooklyn Bar Association and others, that is being hosted by the NY Women’s Bar Association and the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission called the Guardianship Diversity Initiative.

The event will give an opportunity for attorneys to learn about the role of Guardianship proceedings and will introduce them to the judges of Brooklyn and Staten Island who sit on the guardianship parts including Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik, a past president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, Hon. Lisa Ottley, Hon. Leon Ruchelsman, Hon. Lisa Sokoloff, and Hon. Charles Troia.

Salvatore Scibetta, vice president of the Columbian Lawyers, who introduced the judges on Thursday night.

Then on Thursday, Dec. 9, the BWBA will invite Hon. Larry Martin for its regular “Lunch with a Judge” series. That event will give the judge an opportunity to discuss his career path and explain to attorneys in attendance how his court works.

Judge Martin is a past recipient of the BBA’s Vivian H. Agress Trailblazer Award in 2018. Judge Martin, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo School of Law, dedicated his award that year to his sister JoAnn Martin-Hughes, who he called the true trailblazer in the family, as she inspired him to go to law school and become a Civil Rights attorney.

“I remember thinking that if she had the courage and the fortitude to do something like that, then I had to step up myself,” Judge Martin said. “It really galvanized me to go to law school to become a Civil Rights lawyer.”

Finally, the BWBA is planning a two-part continuing legal education seminar next year.

Part 1 will take place on January 20 at 1 PM and Part 2 will be continued on February 10, both lectures will last approximately an hour and a half and will be worth 1.5 credits. Denise Seidelman, a partner at Rumbold & Seidelman, LLP will be the speaker. She will cover asssisted reproduction at the first lecture and surrogacy during the second.

Practicing for the BBA Holiday Party

The Brooklyn Bar Association’s own holiday party is on Thursday, Dec. 16 from 4 until 8:30 PM, which is being sponsored by Northfield Bank. The party is free, but members are asked to donate either a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots, or a used suit that will be donated.

Judge Larry Knipel, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, Bruno Codispoti, Kwok Kei Ng, and others have been busy practicing their instruments on Friday afternoons as they prepare for a brief performance that evening.

The judge and attorney musicians were hoping to play a longer set that evening, but finding time for practicing has been difficult. If you miss their short set on Dec. 16, the group plans on playing together during regular Brooklyn Bar Association 150th Anniversary events that will be taking place throughout 2022.

Holiday Party Raffle

The Brooklyn Bar Association is hosting a raffle in conjunction with the Holiday Party. Raffle tickets are $100 each and there are only 100 available. The winner of the raffle will win a trip to the Bahamas in the Spring, Summer or Fall of 2022, and the second prize winner will receive a 65-inch TV. Please see for more details. There is a limited quantity of tickets left. You do not need to attend the party to win.

Robert Abruzzese is the former Legal Editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the current Director of Member Services at the Brooklyn Bar Association. Now as a legal columnist for the Eagle, Abruzzese writes the BBA and the local legal community. For information about joining the Brooklyn Bar Association, you can reach him via email at [email protected]

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