Brooklyn Law Salutes Community Work at Public Service Awards Ceremony
Community support is one of Brooklyn Law School’s proudest traditions, and the Class of 2023 sustained it in grand fashion, clocking 75,000 hours of exceptional pro bono and public service work through the school’s esteemed clinics and community organizations, assisting immigrants, small business owners, and domestic violence survivors among many others.
At the Public Service Awards Ceremony held at the Forchelli Conference Center on April 4, Brooklyn Law School honored 107 J.D. candidates, as well as three public service field luminaries, including a leading national labor law attorney who helped take on Amazon, an esteemed alumna who was prominent for her employment law work in Philadelphia, and a beloved faculty member who helped frontline workers in New York City during the pandemic.
“Institutionally, we serve multiple different missions at once,” Joseph Crea Dean Michael T. Cahill said in opening remarks. “We are here to educate and support our students. We are also here to support our community and our profession. And it is particularly gratifying and joyful to have a night like this one, that celebrates all those things.”
All three of the evening’s non-student honorees were involved in labor and employment law.
“Labor law is on the rise and on the move, and there has been a burst of unionization activity,” Cahill said, citing two key examples, Amazon and Trader Joe’s. Unions for workers at both companies were represented by honoree Seth Goldstein, a partner at Julien, Mirer, Singla & Goldstein, A Working People’s Law Center. Goldstein received the Distinguished Commitment to Public Service Award.
A Life of Public Service
In his keynote speech, Goldstein described a passion for labor, fueled by leaders in the field, including in New York City, who preceded him.
“Personally, I’ve contributed to the public service sector by collaborating to establish and work with others in a democratic, transparent labor movement centered on empowering workers,” Goldstein said, adding that the mission includes “challenging the influence of powerful corporate interests.”
He devoted 18 months of pro bono work to help workers establish the historic Amazon Labor Union. “The invaluable experience I gained during this time was truly priceless,” he said, adding that it helped challenge decades of anti-union and labor board decisions and paved a path to positive change for millions of American workers.
Opportunities for graduates to get involved in similar work include working in a union-side law firm, in-house at a union general counsel’s office, as a representative or organizer, or “even becoming a union member yourself,” Goldstein said. “The satisfaction of making an impact on someone’s life will be invaluable."
Professor Shirley Lin presented the Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service to the late Professor Minna Kotkin, who joined the faculty in 1984 and was also director of the Federal Litigation and Employment Law clinics. She passed away in 2021.
In addition to “teaching generations of Brooklyn Law School students, Minna inspired her colleagues to consider ‘How do we innovate through education? What can law schools do? What can clinics do?’” Lin said. “She was a trailblazer and someone who was incredibly passionate and generous, and it was in that spirit that when the global pandemic reached its height in the summer of 2020, she did not think about scaling back. She used her position of being in the epicenter of the pandemic and the director of an Employment Law clinic to help those at the very bottom (in the service and logistics industries), serving more than 700 New Yorkers in need.”
Kotkin's partner, Deena Hellman, accepted the award on her family’s behalf.
Rose L. Hoffer Professor of Law Elizabeth Schneider presented Janet Ginzberg ’93 with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Public Service, noting that Ginzberg is one of the earliest of some 1,000 Brooklyn Law students who have been Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law fellows. Ginzberg was a senior staff attorney in the Employment Law Unit of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia from 1999 to 2021, where she worked on cases that involved discrimination, wage theft, working conditions, and a wide range of employment law.
“This is such a delight to be recognized by this community which I credit for giving me such an excellent legal education and so much support to launch a public service career,” Ginzberg said. “I went to Law School to devote my career to public service and found myself in a place where it was so valued by faculty and the esteemed programs that the school had. It made all the difference in the world.”
For students going into public service, she noted that her work inspired her. “I had the great fortune of being surrounded by lawyers who were happy and thought that the work they were doing was meaningful and valuable,” she said, adding that students should not be afraid to try several types of employers as they launch their careers.
Students Honored for Outstanding Public Service
Associate Dean for Professional Legal Education Stacy Caplow and Public Service Law Center Executive Director Jacqueline Cheney presented awards to the following students for their performance of exceptional pro bono and public service:
Gold awards for 1,000 or more hours: Elizabeth Anapol, Katelynn Anderson, Ramsha Ahmad, Wilson Baer, Claire Branscombe, Casey Doyle, Denise Eliot, Daisy Fernandez, Shoshana Finkel, Kelsey Gooden, Salma Guzman-Avila, Raina Hasan, Jacob Hirsch, Nicole Horn, Elisa Jastremski, Simone Kaliko, Erin Larkin Jensen, Juliana Lopez, Paige Massaker, Katana Meganck, Phoebe Menaker, Jake Mulham, Sydney Parks, Samantha Past, Bryanna Rainwater, Eliana Sands, Anjani Shah, Benjamin Smith, Alexander Starbuck, Justine Woods.
Silver (500-999 hours): Cory Anderson, Rebecca Balmer, Chelsea Calabro, Gregory Chang, Hui Chen, Collin Chipetine, Rachel Conte, Zshornelle Daniel, José del Rosario Cardona, Eliza Estrella, Abby Fink, Joseph Getz, Yessenia Gonzalez, Zachary Hirschfeld, Nicolette Kelly, Jacqulyn Kushner, Anastasia Kyriakos, Christian Maloney, Madeline Martinez, Sarah Mucha, Allyssa Myers, Kaitlyn Pavia, Angela Pugliesi, Aliyaa Reeves, Cariana Salvatierra, Brittany Serafin, Karissa Smith, Bailie Smith-Hunter, Carly Spielberger, Carly Sternberg, Deborah Teslyar, Samantha Wehrmann, Katherine Will, Julia Williams, Andrew Wilson, Regina Yu, Danielle Yurkew.
Public Service (100-499 hours): Shina Bharadwaja, McKenzie Blake, Lauren Brady, Mariya Budiyanskaya, Anna Correani, Kathryn Daly, Amanda D’aniello, Anthony Dimauro, Zane Elsisi, Talia Falco, Nicolle Feldman, Clarice Feliciano, Daniel Gavin, Armaan Genomal, Eun Byul Im, Jillian Ingrisano, Joel Krinsky, Jeffrey Lefkowitz, Karol Liguori, Rosaleen Maresco, Nina Nisanova, Minal Patel, Alejandra Pereira, Maria Read, Leisa Rockelein, Kimberly Rose, Erica Thompson, Tamara Valcin, Carl Wu.
Pro Bono Leadership (for outstanding leadership in the Law School’s pro bono projects): Elizabeth Anapol, Rebecca Balmer, Gregory Chang, Jamie Cliff, Nicolle Feldmann, Daisy Fernandez, Abby Fink, Chloe Fishbein, Matthew Fulton, America Garza, Kathleen Giunta, Simone Kaliko, Anastasia Kyriakos, Mikayla Leef, Benjamin Malone, Paige Massaker, Casey Mefford, Sarah Mucha, Sydney Parks, Rachel Schwartz, Karissa Smith, Cherry Srivastava.
Access to Justice Pro Bono Scholars (for spending their final semester providing direct legal services to low-income individuals): Natasha Harris, Carian Salvatierra, Benjamin Smith, Alexander Starbuck, Danielle Yurkew.
View photos from the event.