Esteemed lawyers from across Long Island were celebrated at the Heritage Club at Bethpage on Oct. 5 for the second annual Top Lawyers of Long Island awards gala.
The event, which began at 6 p.m., was organized by RichnerLIVE, the events division of Richner Communications, and Herald Community Newspapers.
Amy Amato, Executive Director of Corporate Relations and Events of Richner Communications and RichnerLIVE welcomed nearly 200 guests and expressed the importance of being able to celebrate the award winners' accomplishments in person.
Awards were distributed for lawyers’ successes in a variety of practices, including bankruptcy, estates and trusts, business and commercial litigation, criminal, cybersecurity, divorce mediation, elder law, education, emerging companies and venture capital, environmental, franchise law, government relations, taxes, real estate and much more.
“During the past year, we certainly needed the best legal minds at work more than ever, as we dealt with novel issues, such as vaccination requirements in the workplace, new federal funding programs, work-from-home arrangements and much more,” Herald Community Newspapers CEO Stuart Richner said at the event. “This evening is a real celebration, as we recognize many of Long Island’s best and brightest legal professionals who have achieved excellence in their area of practice and given back to their communities.”
Outstanding pro-bono projects and top legal firms based on size also received recognition. Michael Schnipper of Nixon Peabody, LLP, said that receiving one of three top legal firm awards was an honor.
“We are grateful to the Herald for honoring us,” Schnipper said. “It’s so it’s great to be recognized, and it'ss great to be back in person after a long time of not having any events.” Nixon Peabody LLP was one of eight event sponsors.
Elizabeth Siegel, an associate with Proskauer Rose LLP, was selected as this year’s Rising Star, while Deborah Aviles, of Lewis Jons Avallone Aviles, LLP, obtained the Lifetime Achievement award.
Aviles is an equity partner and senior trial attorney with Lewis Jons Avallone Aviles, LLP, known for fighting claims of medical malpractice. She is a former member of the Supreme Court Committee, Judicial Screening Committee and more, and helped found the Alexander Hamilton Inns of Court for Suffolk County.
“I’ve been in practice 40 years,” Avlies said. “This is not an award for me – this is an award for all the people I’ve worked with other the years, my staff, my colleagues – they make me look good.”
Plenty of specialty drinks and appetizers were served during the two-hour cocktail hour, where many legal representatives mingled outside under the stars.
“It’s great to be back at a live event and to see everybody face-to-face,” Joe Bruha, Marketing Senior Manager at Grassi Advisors & Accountants said. “We work very closely with the legal community, on everything from valuations to litigation support to trust and estate work. For us, it’s very important to be at an event like this and show the love.”
Lisa Rispoli, partner and trust and estate services leader with Grassi, said she was grateful to interact with her potential clients and to applaud them for their successes at the gala.
Rispoli, who completes litigation support and estate and trust administration services for attorneys, said Grassi has a good reputation in the community, especially within the courts.
“We do a lot of networking and we have a lot of good relationships with the attorneys – they know we have their back,” Rispoli said, “and that’s our job.”
Law professionals then migrated to the dining room, where WABC-TV reporter Kristin Thorne distributed the awards during dinner and dessert.
“This is an incredible gathering of Long Island’s top attorneys, and we are thrilled to be part of such a special night honoring them,” said Michael Billia, Investors Bank Senior Vice President Long Island Market. “We are very happy to be here, in person, celebrating the awards everyone is receiving and thanking them for the work they do for their clients and the community.”
Though not present, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone provided Citations for all award-winners.
The event was sponsored by Investors Bank; Grassi Advisors & Accountants, Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles, LLP, Vishnick McGovern Milizio LLP, Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP, Ruskin Moscou and Faltischek, Quatela Chimeri PLLC, D'Angelo Law Associates, P.C, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, Nassau University Medical Center, Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., Nixon Peabody, Real Estate Homes and PrintEarly.com.