By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association met Wednesday at Hunter’s Steak and Ale House in Bay Ridge Wednesday night to continue its well-attended monthly educational program.
“These meetings are critical, and you need them to remain in good standing with the bar," the association’s president, Pasqualino Russo, said. “It's also important because you want to remain fluent in changes in the law. So we present a monthly speaker as a way to foster the education and improve the quality of the legal community which are our members.”
The meetings typically run about two hours long, and the attorneys have dinner, network with each other, and gather to hear the latest speaker give their presentation. Attending members earn one CLE credit hour.
“Usually what we do at the beginning of the year is we ask for recommendations as to what we think are relevant topics, what’s new, and what haven’t we spoken about,” said the association’s vice president, Joann Monaco. “For new memberships we also try to cover the basics.”
Education is the primary reason for the events, but the association’s treasurer, Grace M. Borrino, explained that she gets so much more out of the events due to their collegial nature.
“The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association is unique to other associations because we're not just colleagues, but it helps build friendships as well,” Borrino explained. “It's great to have a group of attorneys like that where if I have a problem or a question there are plenty of people I can turn to with a question.
“Especially when I first started going to these meetings, it was such a help to run into a friendly face of an attorney who I knew could help guide me.”
Wednesday's keynote speaker was Dominic Famulari, who spoke about becoming a guardian ad litem in the Surrogate Court. A topic, he said, is important but often overlooked.
“One of the facets of the surrogate’s practice is that when there are persons who are unable to appear themselves, they are either disabled, they are children, incompetent, or missing, the court will appoint someone on their behalf to represent their interests,” said Famulari. “So I was talking about what your duties and obligations are when you are appointed in that situation.”
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, Famulari graduated from St. John's University in 1994 and received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law in 1997. He practices law, primarily wills and estates, in both New York and New Jersey.
A former president of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn, Famulari noted that in the past his schedule prevented him from speaking at many events. When his availability opened up, the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association jumped at the chance to hear Famulari speak.
“We’ve been trying to get Dominic to speak for a couple of years, but he’s been with other organizations of which he is a member and this was the first [opportunity] that he could even get the chance,” Monaco said. “He’s an active member of our organization and is very well liked.”
The Bay Ridge Lawyer’s Association will host Hon. Robert Miller, Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, who will be speaking on "Appellate Practice” on Feb. 27. After that it will host Hon. Matthew D'Emic, a Brooklyn Supreme Court justice, who will be speaking on "Psychiatric Issues in Criminal Justice” on Mar. 20. Both meetings will be held at Hunter’s.