Exalting legal eagles: Bar association honors local attorneys, judges at annual awards dinner

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Cheers: From left, attorneys Emil Sanchez, Frank Francis, Sarah Bruno, and Fabian Robley share a drink at the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s annual awards dinner.
Sound investment: From left, Community News Group publisher Cliff Luster with Investors Bank executives Brian Gomez and Ana Oliveira at the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s gala on Dec. 4.
Order at the bar: From left, Judge Katherine Levine, Board of Elections Counsel Steven Richman, and Judge Lawrence Knipel at the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s gala on Dec. 4.
Dynamic duo: From left, Judge Lawrence Knipel and Justice Bernard Grahm at the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s gala on Dec. 4.
Three’s company: From left, David M. Chidekel, Aimee Richter, and Avery Oakin at the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s gala on Dec. 4.
Above the bar: From left, Hon. Nancy T. Sunshine with Community News Group publisher Cliff Luster at the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s gala on Dec. 4.

It was a celebration of their service.

Hundreds of local legal eagles wined and dined at a Downtown hotel on Monday during a swanky dinner and awards ceremony where there was not a strange face in the house, according to a host.

“We had like 850 people and they all knew each other,” said Aimee Richter, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association. “It was a fantastic evening.”

The attorneys and notable guests including Kings County Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio and District Attorney Eric Gonzalez began their night sipping drinks during a top-shelf cocktail hour, before they — along with the lawyers’ families and associates from other bar associations and local institutions — filtered into the banquet hall at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge for a three-course meal and awards ceremony hosted by the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation, the organization’s charitable arm.

Hosts began the honors by recognizing three retiring court justices: Hon. Randall T. Eng, Presiding Justice of the Second Department of the Appellate Division; Hon. Martin M. Solomon, a justice at Kings County Supreme Court; and Hon. Neil J. Firetog, Kings County’s Acting Supreme Court Justice — all of whom received plaques from the foundation commemorating their civil service.

The festivities continued with the presentation of inaugural Vivian H. Agress Trailblazer award, which is named for the Brooklyn Bar Association’s first female president and was awarded to seven past presidents: Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik, Lynn R. Terrelonge, Hon. Nancy T. Sunshine, RoseAnn C. Branda, Diana J. Szochet, Andrea E. Bonina, and Rebecca Rose Woodland.

And the party concluded on a high note, when hosts awarded the foundation’s top honor, the Brooklyn Bar Association Annual Award, to State Supreme Court justices Rachel Adams and Bernard Graham, who were recognized for their legal acumen as well as for their even-handed approaches to justice and all-around congeniality, according to Richter.

“We look for judges that give something special,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 3:52 pm, December 7, 2017
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