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Carl Forbes Jr. talks about his rapid rise through the ranks at MBBA installation

October 14, 2022 Rob Abruzzese
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The Metropolitan Black Bar Association held an installation ceremony in Manhattan on Monday where it installed Carl Forbes Jr. as its newest president along with the rest of the officers and board members.

“My journey to this point has been an interesting one,” Forbes said following the ceremony. “There are many things that I did not set out to become when I went to law school. I wanted to be a child advocate, but life had different plans for me, and I followed the call. I didn’t intend to be an entrepreneur and to run my own practice. I didn’t intend to lead the MBBA, but others saw something in me.”

Forbes was installed during the ceremony at Proskauer Rose by Brooklyn Judge Patria Frias-Colon.

“I got to meet Carl at the NYC Law Department when I was the borough chief there for the Brooklyn office and it was such a pleasure to meet him,” said Hon. Frias-Colon. “You have a calm demeanor and are always ready to do work. You have been very successful and an incredible litigator. Carl left excellent footprints at the Law Department.”

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In addition to Forbes, the MBBA installed seven other officers on Monday including Nicole Lester Arrindell as the president-elect, Justina Rivera as vice president of communications, Eric Love as vice president of finance, Lauren Brown as vice president of membership, Evette Ennis as vice president of programs, Anta Cissé-Green as treasurer and Jennifer Abelaj as general counsel.

After being inducted, Forbes thanked Judge Frias-Colon for being an inspiration and a mentor, and singled out Proskauer Rose, his former employer and a consistent supporter of the MBBA. Forbes, of course, took time to single out his wife, Dawn, and daughter, Savannah.

“When I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the next chapter of my career, my wife Dawn encouraged me to seriously consider pursuing my entrepreneurial passion which resulted in me opening my own firm almost five years ago,” Forbes said. “I was unsure if I was the right person to lead the MBBA, she reminded me of my leadership capabilities.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding as I’ve already traveled on behalf of the MBBA more than we expected and there is still a year and nine months to go,” Forbes continued.

Forbes than recalled his rapid journey through the leadership ranks at the MBBA and jokingly admitted that he questioned some of the members at first.

“I joined the MBBA in 2011, but I was focused elsewhere,” Forbes recalled. “In 2016, I decided I was going to get more involved. Peter Wilson Jr. was the diversity officer here at the time. I asked him about sections and committees I might want to get involved with – he said, ‘join the board.’ I said, that doesn’t make sense, I haven’t been involved. He said, ‘join the board, I’m currently on the board and leaving, take my place.’ But I said – why would they want me on the board when I haven’t been involved? He said, ‘don’t worry, talk to Paula and get involved.’”

Wilson was referring to Paula Edgar, who was president in 2016. Forbes did indeed talk to her, and Edgar was immediately supportive. After putting Forbes on the board, Edgar had dinner with him when she predicted that he would eventually become president.

“We had dinner, we’re talking and at one point Paula says, ‘so when you’re president,’ and all I hear after that is blah, blah, blah because I’m thinking what is wrong with these people?” Forbes said with a laugh.

“They barely knew me. I didn’t get it. I had just gotten engaged to the Association and they were talking about when you become president. She was right, though. I fell in love with the Association. I remember talking to the leaders when I decided to run (for president-elect), Paula said, I’m glad that you finally realized it.”

Forbes, a Columbia University School of Law graduate, was formerly an associate at Proskauer Rose until 2018 when he started Carl Forbes Jr. Law Firm, PLLC. He also works as an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School.

Forbes was recently added, of counsel, to assist Hamilton Clarke, LLP with the firm’s real estate, estate planning, and estate litigation matters.

The MBBA is a citywide bar association for Black and other minority lawyers. Its stated purpose is to advance equality and excellence in the pursuit of justice, aid the progress of Blacks and other people of color in the profession, address legal issues affecting the citywide community, and to foster the study of law by encouraging the personal and professional development of young lawyers and law students.

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