Last Thursday, the Queens County Bar Association welcomed its newly elected board members with an installation ceremony at Terrace on the Park.
Outgoing president Gregory Brown, reflecting on his year leading the organization, said he enjoyed the experience and found it personally fulfilling.
“I think we have made progress in making some of the services we offer available to the public. We’re doing better at now publicizing these things,” he said. “I also think we have been able to establish to the community as a whole how inclusive the association is.”
During his tenure, Brown said he also realized just how much time and effort their full-time staff and association members dedicated to advancing the organization. He thanked them in his last speech as president.
The Bar Association is a link between the legal and judicial communities in Queens. It brings together lawyers, judges and the court system in the borough.
“We feel it is important that those two communities work together to recognize problems in the administration of justice and try to cure them,” Brown said.
Many members provide pro-bono hours to represent people who can’t afford expensive legal fees, he said. They’re also in the process of developing a series of public seminars on topics like criminal law, immigration, property and family law.
Though Brown said he’s “leaving with some regret” because he didn’t complete some initiatives given it’s only a one-year term, he’s still walking away satisfied.
Listing some of his accomplishments in the last year, Brown said they’ve established a more smooth relationship between attorneys and the court system, as well as increased public outreach, particularly to those for whom English is not their first language.
Moving forward, Brown said he wants to see the younger members of the legal profession become more active. The association has tried to encourage more law students to join, providing incentives such as a platform for students to publish their legal works.
“They have younger ideas, younger minds and a younger outlook on life,” Brown said. “A more consistent fusion of younger blood would certainly be welcome and appreciated and promptly put to work.”
Brown said he feels his successor, Gregory Newman, will “take to heart” some of his initiatives and continue them.
“My successor will blaze his own path,” Brown said. “I think he feels the same way I do about a number of these items.”
Newman said he’s going to “pick up where Mr. Brown has left off.” To get more young lawyers involved, his plan is to couple the younger members with “more seasoned lawyers” to head up committees.
“The young lawyer will bring in new ideas and will learn from the old attorney, and eventually be able to move into that role,” he said.
But one of his first priorities as president of the Queens County Bar Association is to help immigrants, especially during this political climate. Newman said his grandparents are immigrants, his mother is an immigrant and his son is an immigrant from Guatemala.
“It’s very important to me, diversity is the strength of the community,” he said. “I want to help the people who are here and want to be here, who are working hard to do it the right way and be productive members of society.”
Though immigration law is not his area of practice, Newman said he wants to get more involved.
“Kennedy Airport is here, the people are coming off the planes, we need to help them,” Newman said. “We don’t want anyone getting deported who’s here who wants to be here.”
Newman called it an “honor” to be chosen by his peers to lead the organization. A Howard Beach native, Newman has worked in Queens everyday for the last 25 years.
His wife, mother and two kids all attended the induction ceremony.
“I know almost all of the people in the room, some I haven’t seen in a long time,” Newman said. “It’s an honor to see everyone.”
Brown will stay on as the association’s liaison to the press. He said it’s important for the public to know what the organization is doing, what they stand for and how they can help.
“I truly enjoyed it, I have relished it,” Brown said. “I’d like to think I left the association a little better than it was before my presidency.”