Home of Law 14

Vesey Street

New York, New York


September 25, 2013


Welcome to the Home of Law and to NYCLA’s 23rd Annual Public Service Awards. I am the President of the NY County Lawyers, but I speak for everyone at NYCLA when I say that we are delighted to have you here tonight as we celebrate the efforts of lawyers who have dedicated themselves to public service, and who, in the best tradition of our profession, have done that steadily, diligently, and quietly for a long time, without demanding or expecting either a big paycheck or a glamorous public profile. These public servants are the unsung heroes of the legal community. So tonight we are going to sing about them a little bit, and we are particularly thrilled to have our District Attorney here as well to help us do the singing.


NYCLA has presented its Public Service Awards annually, since 1990, to honor lawyers in the public sector who have distinguished themselves as role models, innovators, and problem solvers of complex legal issues. Each year our Committee on Public Service Awards seeks out nominations of lawyers who meet these high standards, but whose achievements have not received the recognition they deserve. This year, as in past years, we received nominations of many distinguished lawyers in the public service field who have gone above and beyond for the New Yorkers they serve. Many deserving individuals were nominated—among them the seven lawyers we will recognize tonight:


Kevin M. Cremin

Mark Gombiner

Celeste L.M. Koeleveld

Felix Lopez

Irina Matiychenko

Bonnie Sard and

Betty E. Staton


We appreciate all that you


Tonight we also recognize the winners of the NYCLA Criminal Justice Section’s 2013 Public Service Fellowship Essay Contest for newly admitted public sector attorneys, working in the fields of criminal justice, and carrying more than $30,000 in educational debt. Bernard Eyth from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and Caroline Glickler from The Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Practice in Manhattan, will each be awarded cash stipends to help alleviate that debt.


Before the awards are presented, it gives me great pleasure to welcome the District Attorney of New York County, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. DA Vance took office in 2010 and is already a recognized leader in criminal justice reform, with a focus on crime prevention. His accomplishments include reorganizing and consolidating the resources of the DA’s Office by creating the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, the Special Victims Bureau, the Public Integrity Unit, the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, and the Hate Crimes Unit. Under Cy’s leadership, the DA’s office has also proactively engaged with at- risk segments of the community in order to stop crime before it happens. Most recently, the DA’s office partnered with NYCLA and a host of community organizations to set up a series of educational programs for small business owners, particularly recent immigrants, who tend to have trouble understanding and complying with the sometimes dense web of tax laws, licensing regulations, and wage and hour requirements governing their enterprises.


Cy grew up in New York and began his legal career in the Manhattan DA’s Office during the high-crime era of the 1980s. As an Assistant DA, he handled cases involving murder, organized crime, public corruption, and white-collar crime. He then left the east coast for a stint on the west coast. Which I totally get because I did the same thing for a bit. In Seattle, Cy started his own firm. He also taught trial advocacy. Which I totally get because I have also taught trial advocacy. Cy then came to his senses, returned to New York, and joined Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer. Which was an absolutely brilliant move, not only because Morvillo Abramowitz is an outstanding law firm, but because it made Cy my law partner and gave me the opportunity to learn from one of the best. When Cy was elected District Attorney, it was a loss to Morvillo Abramowitz but a big win for the City of New York.


Please welcome Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.


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Thank you, Cy.


In just a moment, I am going to introduce Catherine Christian, the chair of our Committee on Public Service Awards. But I would first like to take 30 seconds to encourage those of you who are not yet members of NYCLA to join our community of 9,000 attorneys, judges, academics, and law students. NYCLA has an open committee structure and offers high quality CLE at low cost, a well- equipped library with a knowledgeable professional research staff, publication opportunities, a variety of social and networking events, and a host of benefits like health, life and disability insurance, discounted gym membership and car rentals — even price breaks on Fed Ex. Those of you not already in the public service world may also be interested in the many pro-bono programs that we sponsor, giving members an opportunity to serve the community while also sharpening their skills and making valuable professional contacts. Those of you who are public servants will be happy to know that you are eligible for a significant public service discount on your NYCLA dues.


You can keep up-to-date on what’s going on at NYCLA by following us on our social media channels, including Facebook, Linked In and, of course, Twitter: just look for the NYCLA account @NYCLA and my own account @NYCLAPres.


Catherine Christian is Sr. Counsel to the Trial Division and Chief of the Alternative Sentencing Division in the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. Catherine has been with the DA’s office for 15 years, and has been a member and leader of NYCLA for even longer than that. Catherine served as President of NYCLA from 2007 to 2008, which made her the youngest President in NYCLA’s history . . . and probably the last President who did not have a twitter account for which she remains devoutly grateful. Catherine remains deeply involved in NYCLA, and this year she is not only the chair of the awards committee; she is also a NYCLA delegate to the ABA and the chair our Task Force on Meeting the Challenge – the challenge of the new 50-hour pro bono rule for applicants to the NY bar.


Please welcome Catherine A. Christian.

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Thank you for coming out tonight and joining NYCLA for the 23rdAnnual Public Service Awards. Please join us across the hall for refreshments – and don’t forget to pick up a NYCLA membership application if you need one!