The Firm received the Long Island Business News Corporate Citizenship Award at a special ceremony held on June 6 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The Firm was honored in the category of Leadership Excellence for outstanding contributions and leadership in the community.
The Corporate Citizenship Awards recognize companies and individuals who believe that, by being a good corporate citizen, we contribute to the economic and social well-being of our employees, businesses and the community. Honorees consistently prove that true community stewardship evolves through building strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations and others that strive to meet the critical needs of our community.
In addition to being a Partner with the Firm, Chris J. Coschignano served as Councilman in the Town of Oyster Bay. After more than 25 years in public service, Chris has decided to move on to a new chapter in his professional career. He will continue to be involved in community service and will continue with his full-fledged efforts with the Firm.
“All of us at the Firm congratulate Chris on his distinguished career in public service and elected office,” said Michael H. Sahn, the Firm’s Managing Partner. “Chris has been a role model in his service to the public and the legal profession. We are fortunate that our partner will continue his work with us, both as a lawyer and as a leader in our community.”
In this interview, Chris shares his experience in public office, his involvement in the community and the work he continues to perform with the Firm.
John Christopher, a Partner with the Firm, has been named chair of the Young Lawyers Section. This was reported by State Bar News. Mr. Christopher also serves as a section delegate to the House of Delegates and liaison to the Real Property Law Section. In January, he was named a fellow to the New York Bar Foundation.
In addition to her family and matrimonial law practice and being a monthly contributor to the Suffolk Lawyer with her "Bench Briefs" column, Elaine Colavito will be installed as President-elect of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association on June 2017. In this interview, Elaine discusses her upcoming new role with the Nassau County Women's Bar Association and her ability to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
What is it like to soon be installed as the President-elect of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association?
It is an honor to be selected by my colleagues for this new position. I have been involved in the Nassau County Women's Bar Association for many years in various capacities. I have been able to see and participate in the good that it has done in promoting the advancement of women in law and women in general.
What does it mean to you to be part of this organization?
This organization means a lot to me and to the other women attorneys involved in the organization. We do many things to support one another, both professionally and personally. Participating in the various committees of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association is one way that we provide support for one another. For example, last year, at meetings of the Working Parents Committee, we discussed time management and work/life balance.
This year, I enjoyed serving as the association’s Vice President. I was first elected in 2012 as a member of the Board of Directors. The next year, I was elected as Treasurer. I served in this capacity for two terms. After that, I was elected as a Vice President. I am presently serving my second term as Vice President. In 2013, the association presented me with the Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Memorial Award for my interest in improving the justice system, professionalism of the bar and service to the community at large. It was a prestigious honor.
Through the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, I have also been involved in the community. During the 2016 election, each chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York was encouraged to run a voter registration drive. The Nassau drive was held in conjunction with the Nassau County League of Women Voters. The goal of the drive was to get more people involved in the political process. Statewide, we had more than 1,300 new people register to vote.
How do you balance your work and home life?
I have eight children, so, as one could imagine, juggling work and home life is a daily challenge. However, having a large family forces me to make the most efficient use of my time and to constantly prioritize and re-prioritize. I do this both at home and at work to keep me focused and to adequately manage my time.
During my undergraduate studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I gave birth to my first two children. I was expecting my third child (six months along) when I graduated. I was set to commence law school immediately thereafter. My third child was five days old at that time, however, I decided to defer law school for one year. During that year, I worked in a homeless shelter. I then returned to Touro Law School in the Fall of 2004. At that time, my children were four, two and one years old and I was expecting my fourth child. I subsequently gave birth to my fourth and fifth children during law school, while working part-time as a paralegal. Hence, juggling work, school and family was necessary and time management was essential to stay organized.
I gave birth to my sixth, seventh and eighth children while working full-time as an attorney. Again, time management and obtaining an optimal work/life balance is a daily challenge. Being an attorney, time management and organizational skills are key.
They say “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I truly believe this because, the more that I have to do, the more that I get accomplished and the more focused that I am.
What do your duties as family and matrimonial attorney entail?
In matrimonial matters, I counsel clients with regard to child support, maintenance, and equitable distribution, in addition to ancillary issues that arise in the context of divorce, both contested and uncontested.
In Family Court matters, I counsel and advise clients concerning custody and visitation rights, child support, child support enforcement and modification, paternity, and orders of protection.
I also negotiate and draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and represent clients in adoptions and guardianships.
What made you want to enter the field of family law?
With family law, I found it to be more relatable than with other practice areas, and one is able to see the impact of the representation on a client’s daily life.
How do you incorporate your own personal experiences as a mother when you are representing a client?
Running a household is no different than representing a client. In a court of law — just like in a house full of kids — you have to pick your battles!
John P. Christopher, a Partner with the Firm, has been appointed as a Fellow of The New York Bar Foundation. Fellows are nominated by their peers to the Foundation based on their outstanding achievement and dedication to the legal profession.
The Fellows are a distinguished group of legal professionals, with only 1% of New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) membership invited to share in this honor. All fellows must be members of the NYSBA and admitted to practice in the State of New York.
Mr. Christopher concentrates his practice in the areas of zoning and land use, real estate transactions and leasing, landlord/tenant disputes and municipal law. He is an active member of the Young Lawyers Section of the NYSBA, currently holding the position of Chair-elect and previously holding the positions of Treasurer and Secretary. In addition, he serves as a Section Delegate to the NYSBA House of Delegates and Liaison to the Real Property Law Section.
Established in 1950, The New York Bar Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization that receives charitable contributions from individuals, law firms, corporations or other entities and provides grants to further its goals of promoting and advancing service to the public, improvements in the administration of justice, legal research and education, high standards of professional ethics and public understanding of legal heritage. The Foundation makes grants to financially support law-related programs of legal services organizations, nonprofits, bar associations and other organizations throughout New York State.
“It is truly an honor to be selected to join this elite group,” Mr. Christopher said. “I am also pleased to be recognized by my colleagues who recommended me to this prestigious position.”
Wayne G. Edwards and Christian Browne, Partners with the Firm, received Long Island Business News’ Leadership in Law award at a special ceremony that was held on November 17 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
Mr. Edwards concentrates his practice in the areas of zoning and land use planning, real estate law and transactions, including acquisitions, sales, leasing and financing and related corporate transactions. He represents many of the region's most prominent real estate owners and developers in both acquiring property for development and in obtaining the municipal approvals necessary to help their projects move forward.
He regularly lectures on issues related to commercial real estate transactions, zoning and land use.
In 2013, 2015 and 2016, Mr. Edwards was named to the list of New York Metro Super Lawyers in the area of Land Use/Zoning.
He is admitted to practice in the State of New York and before the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. He is a member of the Nassau County and the New York State Bar Associations.
Mr. Browne concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, zoning and land use planning and municipal law. He appears before all jurisdictions from Long Island to Westchester. He also assists with the Firm's New York City zoning practice and handles applications for homeowners, local businesses, major developers and large corporations.
Mr. Browne is the deputy village attorney for the Village of Island Park and has served as special counsel to the Village of Freeport. He was also a member of the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals.
In 2015, Mr. Browne was selected by Super Lawyers as one of New York Metro’s "Rising Stars." He was recognized in the practice area of Civil Litigation, Plaintiff.
He graduated with honors from the College of Holy Cross in 1998 and received his law degree from Fordham University in 2004. He is admitted to practice in New York State and before the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
He is a member of the Nassau County Bar Association and an active member of St. Agnes Cathedral Parish, where he served on a fundraising committee to help raise money to pay for the church’s renovations. He is also a contributing writer for Crisis Magazine, which covers religious matters.
The Leadership in Law Award recognizes those attorneys who carry the following qualities in their profession: dedication, hard work, tenacity and excellence. The award is dedicated to those individuals whose leadership — both in the legal profession and in the community — has had a positive impact on Long Island.
Firm Partner Christian Browne (left) and Long Island Business News Publisher Scott Schoen (right).
Miriam Villani, a Partner with the Firm, was featured in Long Island Business News’ “Who’s Who in Women in Professional Services.” Her profile focused on her work with the firm, as well as being editor-in-chief of The New York Environmental Lawyer and as an author of numerous articles for many legal publications, including West’s New York Practice Series.
Elaine Colavito, an Associate with the Firm, was named as one of the “Ones to Watch” in Law by Long Island Business News. “Ones to Watch” is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
In addition to his active municipal law, zoning and land use planning, real estate transactions and leasing, and landlord/tenant disputes practice, John Christopher is an active member of the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the NYSBA, where he currently holds the position of Chair-Elect. In this interview, John explains his dedication to the profession and his leadership role in the Young Lawyers Section.
How did you become involved with the Young Lawyers Section?
I have been a member of the New York State Bar Association and the Young Lawyers Section since I was admitted to the Bar in 2007. However, I became actively involved when I attended a YLS half-day CLE program in 2010 during the NYSBA Annual Meeting in Manhattan. By chance, I sat next to a gentleman named Phillip Fortino. At that time, Phil was the Chair-Elect of the YLS. Phil invited me to join him at the YLS Executive Committee meeting after the CLE, so I did. Several months after that first meeting, I was appointed to the position of Co-Representative for the 10th Judicial District. The district representatives are really the boots on the ground for YLS throughout the state, since the Bar Association’s headquarters are located in Albany. I held this position for several years, until I was elected to the position of Treasurer in June of 2015.
Adam H. Koblenz will receive the Long Island Business News Millennial Award during a special ceremony on September 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
The Millennial Awards celebrates those between the ages of 19 and 35 and honors the bright, dynamic young professionals who are part of the millennial generation, who contribute to the Long Island community and who have made significant strides in business at a young age.
In 2014, Mr. Koblenz became partner at the Firm. Along with Partner Daniel H. Braff, Mr. Koblenz continues to grow his practice and the Firm’s New York City practice.
To learn more about Mr. Koblenz, please see his Attorney Profile.
In addition to her active environmental law practice, Miriam Villani is a member of the Executive Committee of The Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. Miriam also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Section's newsletter. In this interview, Miriam explains her devotion to the profession and her leadership role in the Bar Association.
When did you get involved in the Section?
I was a student member of the NYSBA Environmental Law Section in law school and then continued my membership once I started practicing. I got involved as an active member after a few years of practice. I had been attending Section CLE programs with my EPA colleagues, and liked the camaraderie of the Section. Soon after I entered the private sector, I was nominated as an Executive Committee member-at-large by one of my law school professors and mentors, Phil Weinberg. A year or so later, I was invited to chair the Section's environmental law essay contest. I still chair that contest. In 2000, I was nominated as an Officer and continued through the five-year term of officer from Secretary to Section Chair. I became the Editor-in-Chief of the Section's journal at the end of my term as Officer and have continued in that role since. As Editor-in-Chief and as a former Chair of the Section, I remain on the Executive Committee.
What motivated you to assume a leadership role on the Executive Committee and to devote efforts to publish the Section's newsletter?
Both the mission of the Section and the members who sit on the Executive Committee have been my motivation for devoting time and energy to the Section's business.
How has your work for the Section benefitted you, and what have you learned from this experience?
My involvement in the Section has added depth to my career and experience. I learn from my Section colleagues and benefit from having the state's, and probably the country's, leading environmental lawyers and legal minds available for discussing emerging issues and developing law.
How has your work helped your colleagues, and, most importantly, how has your work helped further the goals of the Section and benefit the interests of those members who practice environmental law?
I assist my colleagues at the Firm by providing a unique expertise to assist with the Firm's clients' matters. A part of the Section's mission is to educate the bar in the field of environmental law. My work as Editor-in-Chief helps facilitate this goal by getting out to the membership a scholarly publication with articles and columns that inform about the latest developments in environmental law.
Lastly, what advice do you have for law students, and newly admitted lawyers who want to practice environmental law?
Law students who want to practice environmental law should take all the classes offered by the school that have a connection to environmental law; join the school's environmental law society; write for the school's environmental law publication; join the environmental law section of at least one bar association as a student member; submit an essay to the NYSBA Environmental Law Section's essay contest; and do clinical/internship work at one or more of the environmental regulatory agencies. A newly admitted lawyer should become an active member of at least one bar association environmental law section by offering to co-chair a committee; get to know the members of that section; and, if not in an office where environmental law is practiced regularly, offer to do some pro bono work in the field in order to start building some experience.
John Christopher, a Partner with the Firm, was a panelist at the New York State Bar Association’s 2016 Section Leaders Conference on May 12th. Mr. Christopher joined a panel of esteemed colleagues to discuss the various ways that sections can meaningfully engage their members through collaboration, community outreach and connections. Mr. Christopher spoke on the importance of holding networking events with other young professional groups in order to provide valuable networking opportunities for Young Lawyers Section members.
Mr. Christopher is an Officer of the NYSBA’s Young Lawyers Section and serves as a Section Delegate to the NYSBA House of Delegates and a Liaison to the Real Property Law Section.
Chris Coschignano, a Partner with the Firm, was named one of Long Island Business News' "Ones to Watch" in Commercial Real Estate/Architecture/Engineering/Construction/Green. Ones to Watch is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
Robert Abiuso, Counsel with the Firm, and Ralph Branciforte, an Associate with the Firm, were selected as Touro Law Center’s 2016 Public Interest Attorneys of the Year. Mr. Abiuso and Mr. Branciforte were recognized with the other honorees at a special awards ceremony held during the law school’s 22nd Annual Goods and Services Auction on March 16. The Public Interest Attorney of the Year program recognizes attorneys for their commitment and dedication to performing pro bono work for the good of the public.
Robert Abiuso (left) accepts his Public Interest Attorney of the Year
award from Patricia Salkin (right), dean of Touro Law Center.
Mr. Abiuso has been providing pro bono legal services through Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, as well as other civic and charitable organizations. Using his background in real estate law and transactions, he assists family members and friends who are “underwater” on their mortgages. In addition, he provided legal counsel to help restore the Vietnam Memorial Monument in Queens.
Ralph Branciforte (left) accepts his Public Interest Attorney of the Year
award from Patricia Salkin (right), dean of Touro Law Center.
Mr. Branciforte served in a pro bono capacity as an Assistant District Attorney for the Nassau County District Attorney and successfully argued an appeal in People v. Valery before the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. The defendant, who was caught by two police officers burglarizing a Nassau County residence, appealed his convictions for burglary in the first degree, attempted robbery in the second and third degree, resisting arrest, and assault in the second degree. The Second Department affirmed all convictions, except for the lesser included offense of attempted robbery in the third degree.
This case was the second matter that Mr. Branciforte handled in a pro bono capacity for the District Attorney’s Office. He previously participated in the program in 2014.
Robert Abiuso (left) and Ralph Branciforte (right) display their Public Interest Attorney of the Year
awards during Touro Law Center’s 22nd Annual Goods and Services Auction on March 16.
Adam H. Koblenz, a Partner with the firm, was named as one of the “Ones to Watch” in Law/Technology by Long Island Business News. “Ones to Watch” is featured each week in LIBN, highlighting six people who stand out in their respective fields.
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