Real Property Law Section: Attorney Professionalism Award

Each year, the Real Property Law Section has honored an outstanding individual real estate practitioner with its Professionalism Award. The Section’s Award Committee will be seeking nominations in Fall 2021 for the 2021 award, to be presented virtually at the Section’s Annual Meeting during January 2022.

Some of the criteria which are used to identify an individual are as follows:

  1. The nominee possesses in her/his practice a continuing civility and appreciation for others.
  2. The individual possess an outstanding level of competence ­legal ability ­and achievement.
  3. The nominee has in her/his practice made a strong contribution to the development of the practice of law, the improvement of the practice of law, particularly in the field of education ­frequent lectures in CLE programs­ writings­ publications.
  4. The nominee over the years has engaged in mentoring of younger attorneys.
  5. The nominee has involved herself/himself in Bar activities, both on the local level and the State level, holding positions as an officer or chairing committees, etc.
  6. The nominee has been a voice on legal issues.
  7. The nominee has throughout his/her career maintained the highest ethical standards.

Multiple nominations for the same individual are welcome, as are endorsements by local county bar associations.

Completed nomination form and supporting materials should be sent to:

Thomas J. Hall, Esq., Partner
The Law Firm of Hall & Hall, LLP
2555 Richmond Avenue, Suite 230
Staten Island, New York 10314
Email: [email protected]


Leon T. Sawyko
Harris Beach PLLC 

A lifelong resident of Rochester, Leon graduated from St. John Fisher College and Columbia University School of Law.  Upon graduation he joined the firm of Harris Beach & Wilcox (now Harris Beach PLLC) where he spent his entire legal career. In 2014 Leon retired but remains Counsel to the firm.

Leon’s practice involved all aspects of purchase, sale and financing of real property. In addition, he had extensive experience in condominium and homeowner association filings.  He represented real estate developers in all areas, including acquisitions, financing, development, leasing, zoning and planning and subdivision development.  He also represented various not-for-profit and business corporations in County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency and Housing Finance Agency bond financing.

Leon has been an active member of both his local and State Bar Associations throughout his career.  He served as a member and chairman of the Monroe County Bar Real Estate Council and was a longtime member and chairman of that Bar Association’s Professional Performance Committee.  He also served as a member of its Board of Trustees.

On the state level he has been on the Executive Committee of the Real Property Law Section for over 25 years.  While on the committee, he has chaired the Section’s Development, Financing and Not-for-Profit committees.  He currently is co-chair of the Legislation Committee.  From June 2014 through May 2015 he served as chair of the Section.

Since April 2017 he has been a member of the Attorney Grievance Committee for the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Seventh District.

Over the years he has served on the boards of various not-for-profits, including DePaul Group, The Catholic Courier, Nazareth Schools, and the Northwest Branch of the YMCA of Greater Rochester.  In addition he served on the Alumni Board at St. John Fisher College, including as its chair.  He also served on the college’s Board of Trustees from 1982 through 1987.

He continues to serve on the Boards of Seneca Waterways Council, Boy Scouts of America and on the Health Care Services Board of the Rochester Regional Health System.  In addition, Leon serves as co-chair of the Rochester Regional Health Foundation.

Leon and Anne, his wife of 53 years, have been blessed with five children and eleven grandchildren.

Leon says, “I enjoyed actively practicing law for 45 years; it enabled me to raise a great family and, perhaps, do some good for my fellow lawyers and the community.”



2000 – Eugene Morris
– James M. Pedowitz
– Bernard Rifkin
– John E. Blyth
– Harold A. Lubell
– John Hall
– Prof. Robert Zinman
– Mel Mitzner
– Lorraine Power Tharp (posthumous
–  Bill Colavito
Joshua Stein
– Karl Holtzschue
 – no award presented
– Michael J. Berey
2015 – Peter V. Coffey
2016 – Andrew L. Herz
2017 – Anne Reynolds Copps
2018 – Richard S. Fries
2019Francis X. Carroll
2020 – Carol A. Sigmond
2020Leon T. Sawyko