Former NYCLA President Carol A. Sigmond Acceptance Speech for the President’s Medal, NYCLA’s Highest Honor

NYCLA Past President Carol A. Sigmond

President’s Medal Acceptance Speech

2024 Annual Meeting
NYCLA Home of Law
111 Broadway
New York, New York

May 23,2024


Adrienne,  fellow NYCLA Members, ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for this incredible honor and thank you to the officers, board of the directors and the membership of the association. Thank you to Kastalanos and Fink for endowing this award.  I am humbled.

There have been many changes at NYCLA and in the profession at large when I last appeared at annual meeting. Change is inevitable, the trick is to make it positive. I say long live business casual.  When last I spoke at a NYCLA annual meeting, May 25, 2017, Iexplained to the members of the association that the time had come to sell 14 Vesey Street. After 7 years, I look back on these  events  with a touch of envy, a small measure of regret but mostly  satisfaction. The envy because unlike presidents for more than 30 years, Adrienne is not the president of a real estate management company. The regret because I was president of a real estate management company. 

Satisfaction because the sale of the building was essentially a success: , we are on the way to achieving  the timeless financial horizon I was seeking when I started us down this road and we as an association are focused on NYCLA’s core mission of supporting judicial independence and improving the justice system; all in a fully inclusive manner.

116 years ago,  our first president, a former member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, John Dillon urged the view that NYCLA stood for an independent judiciary.  NYCLA was to be a bulwark against political and other efforts to influence judges in deciding cases on grounds other than the facts and the law. 

That same evening, our future second president, Alton Parker was more succinct in describing a second pillar of NYCLA’s mission: improving the justice system: he stated NYCLA was committed to improving the justice system to make it , “more rapid, more simpler and more exact.”  

then and now, NYCLA will advance these goals in the spirit of Joseph H. Choate, our third president, who advocated the only requirement for membership in NYCLA was being a member of the NY bar.  To him, all other characteristics —  race, religion, national origins and gender were irrelevant both at NYCLA and in the justice system.  

We have come full circle, we have emerged from the 14 Vesey era of NYCLA’s existence with our core values in place and the prospect of real financial security on a timeless horizon.  We remain committed our vision of better justice system that is blind to the irrelevant and immutable characteristics of those working in the system and those seeking justice.

The future beckons, let’s meet it head on confident in who we are and where we are going. Thank you, and I wish Adrienne, Richard, Ron, and my fellow Members as well as our amazing executive director Sophia Gianacopolis and our terrific staff, Godspeed.  Thank you