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March 5, 2014
It is my honor, as the current President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, to welcome you to tonight’s special event, the portrait unveiling for our immediate past President, Stewart Aaron.
Tonight we honor Stewart for the tireless efforts he has devoted to our Association, not just as its 57th President, but for many years before his term as President and, we hope and pray, for many years to come.
Stewart joined NYCLA in 1988, when he was five years out of law school and a fledgling commercial litigator. He served as Chair of the Federal Courts Committee from 2001 to 2004, joined the Board of Directors in 2007, and was elected to the leadership in 2009, serving as Vice President to Catherine Christian, and as President-Elect to Jim Kobak—at which point he also became the President of the NYCLA Foundation. In May 2011 Stewart was inducted as President of NYCLA, and he served until May 2013. Unfortunately, our bylaws did not permit him to stay in office any longer, which in my opinion simply highlights a weakness in our bylaws.
I want to focus primarily tonight on Stewart’s remarkable record of achievement at NYCLA, but no discussion of his term would be complete without at least a nod to his equally remarkable multi-tasking abilities.
While he was President of NYCLA, Stewart remained active in the American Inn of Court and the American Bar Foundation, served as a mediator in the Southern District of New York, delighted audiences young and old with his dramatic abilities and musical stylings, and kept up with his practice. In fact, he did more than keep up; Stewart served as Managing Partner of the New York office of Arnold & Porter, which he continues to do today. And he is apparently pretty good at it. Stewart is a not just a Super Lawyer but a Top 100 Super Lawyer. And six months into his term as President, Stewart was listed in Above the Law as one of the best BigLaw partners to work for in New York. The article quoted one of the survey respondents saying that Stewart “set[s] the example of the kind of lawyer I want to be.”
Stewart also set the example, for me, of the kind of Bar President I want to be.
During his two years in office Stewart oversaw numerous NYCLA initiatives and activities designed to promote the administration of justice and reforms in the law. Under Stewart’s leadership NYCLA expanded its Legal Counseling Project to help individuals affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Stewart established NYCLA’s Task Force on Judicial Budget Cuts, which led the charge for adequate funding of the federal and New York courts—and continues to do so today.
Stewart testified before the Commission on Judicial Compensation recommending “…an immediate increase in judicial salaries” for our New York State judges.
He appointed a Working Group on gun control reform, which issued a groundbreaking report, in record-breaking time. Almost before the ink was dry on that report, it was being quoted by the Attorney General of the United States.
Stewart also paid attention to the next generation of leadership at NYCLA, recruiting and promoting the young lawyers who will lead us in the future. Although I am not so young, Stewart also recruited and promoted me, and it is not an overstatement to say that I owe my current position at NYCLA largely to his encouragement.
In these and other areas Stewart carried on the great tradition of NYCLA presidents who over the years have helped NYCLA grow, thrive, and uphold the best values of the organized bar.
For those of you new to NYCLA, we encourage you to join our community of nearly 9,000 attorneys, judges, academics, and law students. NYCLA helps its members keep learning and stay competitive by offering high- quality, low-cost CLE seminars and webinars, professional and personal development opportunities, a fabulous library, and many publication opportunities. We can also help you expand your professional network through our online Career Center, our open Committee system, and our innovative social and networking event. As a member of NYCLA, you can help shape policy on issues important to the profession and to our New York community, and you can give back to that community, while improving your legal skills, through our assortment of pro bono projects, many of which Stewart helped to establish or expand.
I also encourage you to keep up-to-date on what’s going on by following NYCLA on our social media channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook—in fact, that was another one of Stewart’s innovations. He established, and I have now inherited, the Twitter account @NYCLA Pres—go ahead and take a look.
I’m so glad we’re all here together tonight to celebrate a leader who played a large part in making NYCLA as strong as it is today.