November 17, 2015: New York State Bar Association Recognizes Chief Judge, Access to Justice Award Recipients

New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and 10 attorneys were recognized by the New York State Bar Association at a ceremony on Nov. 17 for their contributions to public service.

State Bar President David P. Miranda thanked Lippman, who will retire at the end of the year, for his service to the state of New York. Lippman was appointed chief judge in 2009.

“Judge Lippman has served as a dedicated leader and tireless advocate for our state’s justice system,” Miranda said. “It has been our deep privilege at the State Bar to partner with Judge Lippman to shed a light on this important concern for all New Yorkers.”

Access to Justice Awards were presented to attorneys from the Capital Region, Syracuse and Washington, D.C. in conjunction with National Pro Bono Week, October 25–31.

“The honorees are exemplary role models who demonstrate the highest values of our profession and how attorneys can make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers in need of legal services,” said State Bar President David P. Miranda. “Their contributions show how pro bono service is good for our community, our profession and our bar association.”

The honorees are: 

Joel Blau of Delmar practiced law for 40 years in the public and private sectors. He volunteers his services to the Legal Aid Society of New York (LASNNY), representing clients with tax and unemployment insurance benefits matters.

Carl Hasselbarth of Albany is the managing and principal attorney at the Law Office of Carl W. Hasselbarth. He is a volunteer for LASNNY and assists clients with housing, bankruptcy and tax matters, often going beyond the scope of what he signed on to assist with.

Meg Gilmartin, a solo practitioner at Gilmartin Law Firm, focuses on business law in Saratoga Springs. Through the Legal Project, she assists victims of domestic violence and helps  ensure their access to justice.

Nancy Larson of Syracuse is an assistant attorney general for the state of New York. Although family law is not her practice area, Larson, through the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, volunteers for the Family Court Clinic and the Rescue Mission, helping families in need.

Sara E. Lowengard is an associate at Macht, Brenizer & Gingold in Syracuse. She volunteers her legal services to families through Vera House (a domestic violence program), the Rescue Mission, East Syracuse Library and Westcott Community Center Talk to a Lawyer programs.

Robert P. Mascali of Albany is an attorney with the Center for Special Needs Trust Administration and also practices with the firm of Pierro, Schaeffer & Connor. He assists with pro bono events at Albany Law School, where he plans programs, enlists volunteer attorneys and provides consultations.

Michael J. O’Connor of Albany is a partner with O’Connor, O’Connor, Bresee & First. He volunteers for the Legal Project’s bankruptcy pro bono panel and assists clients at numerous bankruptcy clinics.

Karen S. Southwick of Syracuse is an associate at Costello, Cooney & Fearon, where she specializes in criminal litigation. She represents clients on family law matters through the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County. 

Michael D. Violando of Albany is a partner at Sullivan Keenan Oliver & Violando. He assists members of upstate New York’s LGBT community in both trial and appellate matters ranging from criminal defense to adoption and also counsels clients in non-litigation matters.

Colin P. Watson of Washington, D.C. is an associate at Covington & Burling. Formerly of New York City, Watson continues to work on a case for the Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York he began in 2014. He traveled to New York for oral arguments in October.

The American Bar Association established National Pro Bono Week in 2009 to support local efforts to expand the delivery of pro bono legal services, recognize the significant efforts of pro bono attorneys and showcase the tremendous difference that pro bono lawyers make to our system of justice, our communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve.

Miranda discussed the Association’s access to justice initiatives at the November 7 meeting of the House of Delegates. Excerpts of his remarks can be viewed www//youtube/8rmkMsz_E_8

Photos of award recipients are available upon request by contacting Christina Couto at ccouto@nysba.org or 518-487-5535.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.

Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services & Public Affairs
lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518/487-5530