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Brooklyn Bar Association honors Avery Okin and others during 150th Anniversary

June 6, 2022 Robert Abruzzese, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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It was a party 150 years in the making!

The Brooklyn Bar Association held a 150th Anniversary Dinner at El Caribe in Mill Basin on Thursday where it honored Avery Eli Okin, Steven Cohn and its past presidents.

It was the biggest legal event in Brooklyn since 2019 as nearly 350 people attended the gathering. Attendance consisted of over 50 judges including Hon. Hector LaSalle, the presiding justice of the appellate division, second department, as well as many of his colleagues on the bench, Kings County Supreme Court justices Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix of the NYC Corporation Counsel and Frank Carone, a past president and chief of staff for Mayor Eric Adams.

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Sesquicentennial presidents Armena Gayle and Richard Klass, along with Hon. Barry Kamins, the executive chair of the 150th Anniversary Committee, led the ceremony. Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik, who sits in Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term – previously the youngest-serving president in the BBA’s history – made a presentation to the past presidents.

President Richard Klass presented Steven Cohn with his award – the Lifetime Achievement Award – and Gregory Cerchione presented Avery Okin with the Distinguished Service Award after he led the BBA as executive director for the past 36 years.

Cohn, a Brooklyn Law School graduate, served as BBA president from 1999 until 2000 and still serves as the chair of its continuing legal education committee. He is a local district leader and an advisor to many in the legal and political communities.

“I first met Steve when I became a lawyer on Court Street 30 years ago,” Klass said. “I saw how much care and devotion he gave to others, including helping countless people in every sort of way. I can bear witness to the many times Steve has donated money to people lined up at his door, gotten jobs for people, and performed mitzvahs for others without their even knowing about it – the highest form of charity.”

Okin is a third-generation graduate of Brooklyn Law School. He briefly worked for an insurance defense firm out of law school, and served one year as a law assistant for Hon. Ira Harkavy. Okin got his start at the BBA when he began volunteering to work on CLE programs and selling advertisements in the Brooklyn Barrister.

Okin took over as executive director in 1987 and in 1991 he received certified association executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives.

“Avery, you have been a true friend, a mentor, role model, counselor and advisor,” Cerchione said. “You have administered and coordinated daily operations, employees, accounting and association matters, continuing legal education, the Volunteer Lawyers Project, the Lawyer Referral Service, Part 137s, and managed the daily calendar of events and meetings with trademark punctuality and meticulousness. Avery, you made the position of executive director look easy.”

As its way of honoring the past, the BBA decided to take a moment to honor all of its past presidents. On Thursday night, all that were in attendance were presented with a medallion to commemorate the occasion.

President-elect Richard Klass, Past President Steven Cohn, and President Armena Gayle.


Past presidents from left: Andrew Fisher, Hon. Frank Seddio, Gregory Cerchione, Hon. Nancy Sunshine, Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine and Ethan Gerber.


Past presidents from left: Larry DiGiovanna, David Chidekel, Domenick Napoletano, Barton Slavin, Mark Longo and Diana Szochet.


Past presidents: Andrea Bonina (left), Arthur Aidala and Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik.


From left: Ray Ferrier, Hon. David Vaughan, Hon. Mark Partnow, and Hon. Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term.


Pictured from left: BBA president-elect Richard Klass, Hon. Joanne Quinones, Paula Edgar, and Carl Forbes Jr., president-elect of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.


Charles Small, chief clerk of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term and Hon. Lara Genovesi.


From left: Xavier Carr, Hon. Reginald Boddie and Hon. Larry Martin.


From left: Hon. Wavny Toussaint, Hon. Lisa Ottley and Hon. Genine Edwards.

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