Dear Member of the Queens County Bar Association,
I welcome you to the 144th year of the Queens Bar Association! Many of you will no doubt agree that this year will be a seminal one, not just for ourselves, but for the Association and our Queens legal community. This is the year that the daily practice of law was forever changed.
Our Board thought that our biggest issue this year would be finding a replacement for our beloved Executive Director, Arthur Terranova, who will be stepping down at the end of the current year in May of 2021. In early February, we began that undertaking and will soon be advertising for candidates to fill Arthur’s huge shoes. Candidates will be interviewed this Fall so that they can work with Arthur in the Spring. Coming out of the winter season we anticipate working on the same issues that we had in past years.
In March, we were reminded that our best laid plans ofttimes go astray and we were faced with a host of issues that no one imagined. The pandemic has forced us into the future with virtual court conferences, arraignments, discovery and motion practice all becoming part of our daily lives. Change is inevitable and at times warranted. Recognizing this Chief Judge DiFiore has taken steps to bring the practice of law into the electronic age and in a short two months many have adjusted to the changes and will adapt to future directives. The Association has been at the forefront in providing tutorial sessions for its members to learn how to navigate the different meeting platforms that are being used by the courts, the stenographic agencies and our clients. These sessions will continue going forward. A special word of thanks goes to Mark Hoorwitz of LEXITAS Legal in providing these services free to our membership.
Our committees continued humming along in late April despite this pandemic and have conducted numerous ZOOM sessions among their members. We have reached out and have continued planning CLE’s and have co-sponsored several information sessions with affiliated Queens Bar Associations. We will be continuing these activities this summer and through the fall. It will be our intent to work with other bar associations by publishing their activities and consulting with them on legal issues of the day.
In May our annual dinner was cancelled due to the virus but more importantly we were again faced with a sad reality that has plagued our society for a long time. The United States, the State and City of New York and parts of our own Queens county today stand divided and wounded because of longstanding tensions concerning race, law enforcement misconduct, and civil liberties. The current anger, division, and alienation are derived from long-term, systemic causes, and they call for resolution of underlying issues through immediate and sustained action within the framework of the law that we have all sworn to uphold. To move forward, it is essential for everyone to acknowledge these basic facts and to likewise acknowledge that societal change is necessary and should be demanded. Respect for each other is warranted and differences in race and economic diversity should be understood and recognized. Our U.S. Constitution was amended long ago to require this respect within our society. Sadly, that respect for life and each other has not always been adhered to. It is time that as a bar association we all accept and work toward the objectives outlined in our Federal and State constitution. Our Association recently issued a press release that decried events in Minnesota as well as in other parts of the country and we will be holding seminars that reflect on these important issues. We support peaceful protests and we deplore the wanton destruction of property and looting that has taken place as they only serve to strengthen negative positions maintained by some on both sides of the political spectrum and diminish the message that peaceful protests intend. This hate cannot continue. The QCBA will continue to promote the rights of all citizens and respect for the rule of law. We acknowledge and respect the good work that is carried out by the majority of law enforcement personnel that have respect the citizenry that they serve and we will work to try to bring the ideals of good government that our forefathers intended so many years ago.
Our association will continue to work with Court Administration officials in their planned changes and will promote the interests of our members. We will reach out to our legislators in Washington and Albany on pending legislation that affect our legal community. and we will continue to expand upon the great work that our immediate past President Marie Eleana First performed to mentor Law students and newly admitted members of the bar. I thank and congratulate her for her work and her dedication to the Association these many months.
I hope to see many of you in our future virtual meetings. Please stop by if only for a few minutes and see just what is going on in your association. You will be met by the smiling faces of Sasha Khan and Janice Ruiz who have been setting up our meetings and who are back to work in the front office. They are the first faces that many civilians in our Queens community meet when coming to us looking for help with their legal questions. Consider asking those you work with to join our association as we go forward into our 144th year and the future. I look forward to seeing you this year!