Spring 2016 – Honors Program Invited Speakers
Every spring the Honors Program invites attorneys and judges to speak to Honors Program students about areas of practice of particular interest to these students. In spring 2016, Honors Program students had the opportunity to hear from Rosemarie Tully, Touro Law ‘92, who practices in the field of entertainment law. In response to student requests to hear from recent alumni who had participated in the Honors Program, Tiffany Frigenti, Touro Law ’14, also spoke to students talking about the sort of work she does at a Long Island law firm. Finally, Honors Program students also had the chance to hear an inspiring talk from Ryan Cleary, Touro Law ‘14, who works for Brooklyn Defender Services.
Honors Program Students Attend a Variety of Programs in the 2015-16 Year
As a part of membership in the Honors Program, every Honors Program student is required to attend four extracurricular events every semester. Second-year students are also required to write a short essay about one of those events. In both fall ’15 and spring ’16, Honors Program students attended and wrote about a variety of programs offered by Touro Law or by a Touro Law student organization.
A number of students heard speakers on family law issues. Rhona Mae Amorado (pictured below) heard speaker Judge Stephen Ukeiley, a former Suffolk County Trafficking Court judge, invited by the Family Law and Criminal Law Societies. As Rhona indicated, Judge Ukeiley spoke to students about the New York court system, the magnitude of human trafficking, and the unique features of the Human Trafficking Court.
Katherine Bergold, Luann Dallojacono, and Jenna Jonassen heard from Glorisbel Roman, from the Suffolk Legal Aid Society Children’s Law Bureau and from Rebecca Oyana and Deborah Lolai, Touro Law ‘14, both from the Bronx Defenders Office, in a panel presentation organized by the Family Law Society. Katherine noted that while the speakers had different perspectives, either as representatives of children or of parents accused of child neglect or abuse, they concurred “that the work is emotionally draining but inspiring and rewarding at the same time.” Luann was struck by Ms. Oyana’s comment that “it is difficult to understand the source of a family law issue without getting to know the family. It is only when one gets close to the situation that one uncovers what is really going on.” Jenna appreciated the opportunity “to hear from a child advocate, but also from defenders who were able to substantiate their reasoning for believing that parents need effective representation, as well.” (Students are pictured below in order from left to right.)
Other students attended one or more of the monthly “Bagels with the Boards” events, sponsored by Touro’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law institute. Kyle Durante attended a session that focused on mobile broadband communications infrastructure, local codes, and federal laws meant to prevent delays in the issuance of telecommunication permits and issues. Megan Forbes attended the monthly session focusing on Disaster Resilience, which brought in “three speakers who all discussed the importance of planning for environmental disasters.” Jessica Vogele attended a late November ’15 session that discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, involving the constitutionality of content-based sign regulations. Jessica found speaker A. Thomas Levin’s “explanations of the different constitutionality tests . . . clear and concise” and enjoyed the “great insight” provided on a narrowly tailored topic. (Students are pictured below in order from left to right.)
Two Honors Program students wrote about the talk given by visiting scholar Dr. Sharona Aharony-Goldenberg, of Netanya School of Law in Israel. Touro Law and Netanya Law have an exchange program under which a faculty member from each school visits the other school for a week each year. During Dr. Aharony-Goldenberg’s visit, the Jewish Law Student Association invited her to speak to students, and she addressed “Academic Boycott: An Impossible Oxymoron.” As Robert Fogarty summarized, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement “is a global campaign against the State of Israel, which strives to end Israel’s occupation of all Arab lands captured during the Six-Day War in June 1967” and which, in the academic area, tries to “prevent Israeli intellectuals from publishing their works.” As Arielle Montoro noted, “The Academic BDS movement impacts innocent third parties who are trying to better society by releasing their publications for the country to see.” (Students are pictured below in order from left to right.)
Several students, including Saba Khan, Erica Arias, and Jonathan Barreto, attended a trademark panel presentation organized by the Intellectual Property Law Society. The session presented four practitioners in the trademark area who spoke about the mid-July 2015 decision to cancel six trademark registrations relating to the Washington Redskins football team. Saba noted that the speakers included an attorney formerly with the U.S. Trademark office who described the process of trademark registration, an attorney who focused on free speech implications, an attorney who discussed the effect of the decision on those who had licenses to use the cancelled trademarks, and finally, an attorney who discussed the probable lack of financial impact on the football team. Erica noted that the presentations were interesting to those taking the Intellectual Property course and to those not in the course but engaged because of the sports connection. Jonathan noted that the different perspectives led him to realize that “trademarks are only as valuable as people perceive them to be. As long as they are economically viable, they will persist.” (Students are pictured below in order from left to right.)
This past semester, Manuel Esteban (pictured below) attended a Diversity Week event entitled “Religious Safe Space Dialogue,” organized by the Law Center. “The event allowed each participant to share about his or her faith and the issues that each participant saw as important.” As Manny concluded, “If people from diverse faiths learn more about one another and see the good in each other’s faiths, or lack of faith, I feel we will have less strife and more harmony. As leaders, I feel lawyers can lead this dialogue of coming together, which is why I was proud to recommend and moderate the event.”
In March, the Law Center sponsored a conference on jurist Louis D. Brandeis. Alexsis Gordon (pictured below) attended a presentation by University of Notre Dame Professor Barry Cushman, who spoke about Justice Brandeis and due process, a session that Alexsis found “very informative, especially considering the fact that in my constitutional law class we were studying due process.”
Stephanie Hibbert (pictured below) attended a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) session at the Queens County Bar Association, providing attendees an update on New York ethics rules governing New York attorneys. One topic was “whether information obtained from a now-deceased client can be disclosed to exonerate a co-defendant.” Stephanie reported that almost the entire audience was surprised to learn that commentary on the applicable rule would allow such disclosure, provided certain conditions were met. As Stephanie noted, “I was very surprised by the openness of the attending attorneys . . . . This event showed me that although the rules of ethics were written by attorneys, they too need assistance at times in ensuring their conduct comports with the law.”
Jessica Klersy (pictured below) also attended a CLE session, one sponsored by Suffolk County on domestic violence and the new domestic violence courts opened in early 2016. While Jessica saw the new courts as a step in the right direction, the speakers also made it clear to her that “[b]esides the court system, we need information sessions for teens and adults. There are so many services out there, and many victims are unaware that there are programs and people willing to help them. We need to get the information to the victims who are unaware of the programs, and we need to reach out and help the unreported cases of domestic violence.”
Jorge Macias (pictured below) attended a presentation by Patrick Donohue, the founder of Project 9 Line, which helps veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jorge noted that the speaker tries to help veterans by sharing his experience in the business world to help them create businesses and new lives for themselves, but also by using his talents as a stand-up comedian “to take their minds away from what may be haunting them.”
In 2016, the nation lost U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Touro Law Review and the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of New York held a memorial event, attended by Elizabeth Sy (pictured below). Although she noted that she might not always agree with Justice Scalia on many topics in the decisions she read in her constitutuional law class, Elizabeth noted that Justice Scalia “always stood by his principles and I commend him for that. In addition, his sarcasm and humor not only made me laugh, but many of his comments were well-calculated predictions of the future.”
Ashley Valla (pictured below) attended a workshop co-sponsored by the Elder Law Trusts & Estates Association, LAMDA, and the Health Law Society. One point the speaker noted was that until recently New York did not “recognize a domestic partner as a spouse for both inheritance and health care decision making purposes.” The workshop offered “specialized training to deal with legal LGBT issues and offer a ‘safe space” for those seeking legal help.” Ashley noted that the organizations hope to offer and advertise a similar workshop in the future “to give all students an opportunity to learn and become aware” of the issues of the LGBT elderly.
Krista Miller (pictured below) attended the Second Annual Long Island Coastal Resiliency Summit at Touro Law and wrote about a session entitled “What is the Cost of Protecting Property?” With Fire Island as the primary example, the speaker presented various strategies “to maintain the balance between man and nature” and discussed how different strategies could benefit different areas of Fire Island.