Hard work is a given for any lawyer who hopes to excel, but what distinguishes the five winners in the Above the Bar awards is a sense of public duty.
The awardees did not speak so much of their legal labors as they did of their civic obligations.
These lawyers make the profession proud, said Anthony A. Scarpino Jr., Westchester County District Attorney, introducing the winners on the night of June 8 at Whitby Castle in Rye.
“It’s an extremely difficult job to do right,” he said, “and it’s tremendously important to take the time to recognize the members of the bar that do an extraordinary job.”
“No shortcuts.” That’s the credo by which P. Daniel Hollis III, recipient of the Pace Setter award, has tried to live his life.
He is a litigator in complex corporate and land use cases, with Shamberg Marwell Hollis Andreycak & Laidlaw. He has been recognized by several organizations for his community work.
He made a promise to himself when he returned home from Vietnam in 1969, where he served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
Mindful of the 58,000 comrades who were killed and the hundreds of thousands who did not return home “in sound mind, spirit or body,” he vowed to honor their sacrifices by trying to make the world better, “taking no short cuts along the way.”
Joseph Carlucci, a partner in Cuddy & Feder, echoed the theme, in accepting the award for most socially conscious attorney.
His legal work encompasses a range of corporate and real estate law, but it is volunteer work that weights his resume: educational institutions, a children’s center, arts organizations, a substance abuse counseling agency, land conservation and more.
On his first day at Georgetown University, new undergraduates were told they were very fortunate, though they might not think so. With their good fortune comes the obligation to go back to their communities and make them better places.
He was but one of many of the 150 or so lawyers and judges at the ceremony, he said, who have practiced in socially conscious ways.
“I’d say to all of you here tonight, you are also fortunate and therefore you have an obligation to go out and help organizations better peoples’ lives.”
Richard O’Rourke of Keane & Beane PC also deflected his honor, as the leading land use attorney.
“What this is really about is team work and support,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with great team members focused on achieving success in a very ethical framework. Receiving an award like this is a result of working with great people.”
The most difficult part of the profession is matrimonial law, said Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, in introducing Georgia Kramer, a founder of Kramer Kozek LLP, as the leading matrimonial attorney.
He cited her expertise in many areas of matrimonial law.
“But what is most striking to me is how she has blended her legal skills with her humanity,” he said.
“She is your friend, your confidant, your co-conspirator. She is kind. She is sensitive to your needs. She’s is loyal and true and she uses her unique personal qualities to carry you through the most trying of times. Georgia Kramer literally saves lives.”
Kramer boiled down her work as simply serving people.
“It’s a privilege,” she said, “to be an attorney and to assist people.”
The last award, most promising Pace Law student, went to Angelica Cancel.
The Bronx native has been an extraordinary presence at the law school, said Dean David Yassky.
She echoed the evening’s themes of privilege and responsibility.
She recalled her anxiety on the night before her first finals exam and the inspiration she found in the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor: “The law needs us.”
Pace taught her that the law is always worth it. “I cannot wait,” she said, “to enter this profession.”
The Above the Bar awards is in its 11th year. It was presented by Citrin Cooperman accountants and advisers, Pace’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law and the Westchester County Business Journal.
“It is wonderful to see our community come together,” said Alan G. Badey, managing partner of Citrin Cooperman’s White Plain’s office, “to celebrate the accomplishments of top lawyers in Westchester County.