The Young Lawyers Section each year honors a young lawyer who has rendered outstanding service to both the community and legal profession. The Outstanding Young Lawyer Award recognizes an attorney who has actively practiced less than 10 years, and has a distinguished record of commitment to the finest traditions of the Bar through public service and professional activities.
The award will be presented at the Constance Baker Motley Symposium during the New York State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in January 2024.
The Section will be accepting nominations for the 2024 Award until Monday, October 16, 2023.
Eligibility and Award Criteria
- Nominees must be admitted to practice in New York State and have practiced less than ten years at the time of nomination. Membership in the NYSBA is not required.
- Nominees must be involved primarily in the active practice of law as distinguished from an attorney who has been primarily engaged in business, or as a legislator, or other holder of public office or position, where admission to the Bar is not required.
- Service in a public service position such as district attorney, assistant district attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general, judgeships, or judicial clerkships will be included for determining years of practice, but will not be considered community or professional service.
- Members of the New York State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Executive Committee and past chairpersons of the Section are not eligible for nomination.
- Letters of support, a resume, or other material highlighting the accomplishments and personal attributes of the nominee are strongly encouraged and most successful nominees provide such supplemental information in support of their application.
2023- Katerina “Kat” Kramarchyk, Esq.
Katerina “Kat” Kramarchyk is a business and commercial litigator at Harris Beach PLLC. Kat represents clients in all matters germane to businesses. In addition to litigation, Kat has experience consulting on business ownership disputes, labor and employment disputes (including restrictive covenant enforcement), intellectual property (copyright, trademark, trade dress, trade secret), insurance coverage, contract enforcement and interpretation, compliance with state and federal laws (including in the health care and education sectors), and negligence/risk management. Kat serves on Harris Beach’s Associate Advisory Committee, and Attorney Training Committee, and is a summer associate mentor. Kat was Chair of the Monroe County Bar Association’s (“MCBA”) Young Lawyers Section in 2020-21. While Chair, and despite COVID limitations, Kat kept up the Young Lawyers’ tradition of giving by organizing a virtual silent auction to benefit the Rochester Teen Court, a restorative justice program that keeps juvenile offenders out of the court system. Kat has also served as attorney volunteer and mentor in the Teen Court program. Kat served as Dean of the MCBA’s Academy of Law (2018-19), the committee responsible for the administration of the MCBA’s Continuing Legal Education programming. Kat continues to serve on the Academy of Law, as well as on the MCBA’s Board of Trustees, and Nominating Committee. Kat is also a Diversity Co-Chair for the Greater Rochester Area Association for Women Attorneys (“GRAWA”). In that role Kat plans community service programs, equity and inclusion trainings, and oversees GRAWA’s programming through an intersectional lens to ensure it is in line with GRAWA’s mission of representation and inclusivity. Kat has been a GRAWA Board Member since 2018. Kat has been listed as a Best Lawyers – Ones to Watch © in Commercial Litigation and Litigation – Intellectual Property since 2021, and has received the following awards: Up & Coming Attorney (The Daily Record, 2020), Emerging Bar Leader Award (MCBA, 2019), and the Raymond J. Pauley Award for contributions to CLE programming (MCBA, 2017). In her free time, Kat enjoys staying active with long walks, yoga and running. Kat also loves exploring new cities and meeting and engaging with new people. Kat received her JD from Albany Law School of Union University (cum laude, Justinian Honor Society), and MBA from Union Graduate College (with honors, Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society).
2023- Tania Khatibifar, Esq.
Tania Khatibifar is an associate with Haynes and Boone, LLP, where she specializes in real estate and real estate finance matters. She represents clients in a broad range of commercial real estate transactions including sales and acquisitions, mortgage and mezzanine financings, preferred equity investments, joint ventures, ground leases, and restructurings involving multifamily properties, industrial sites, retail outlets, office buildings, development parcels and other asset classes. Tania was named to the 2022 New York Metro Rising Stars list, which is published annually by Super Lawyers and limited to no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in the New York Metro region. In addition to her real estate practice, Tania regularly dedicates substantial time to a broad range of pro bono matters and has advocated for clients in asylum, clemency and constitutional law matters. In 2020, she was part of a team of Haynes and Boone attorneys that drafted simple estate planning documents for healthcare employees working on the frontlines at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which earned Haynes and Boone an award from the San Antonio Legal Services Association. Tania is also actively involved in Haynes and Boone’s mentorship and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and serves on the entry-level hiring committee of the firm’s New York office.
2022 J’Naia Boyd, Esq., Uniondale, NY
J’Naia L. Boyd is an associate with Rivkin Radler LLP and is a member of the firm’s Appeals, Intellectual Property, Commercial Litigation, Bankruptcy, and Business Dissolution groups. J’Naia’s appellate practice includes prosecuting and defending an array of appeals before the New York appellate courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. As a litigator, J’Naia’s practice includes representing clients in federal and state courts, and in ADR forums, in matters involving trademark and copyright infringement, complex commercial disputes, business torts, bankruptcy, fraud, labor and employment law, violations of confidentiality agreements, restrictive covenant disputes, insurance disputes, and partnership and joint venture disputes. J’Naia’s practice also includes immigration work, where she represents clients seeking H-1B visas for highly skilled workers in specialty occupations and O visas for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability. J’Naia has also been an Attorney Mentor with The Appellate Project for the past two years, which is a mentorship program designed to empower law students of color, particularly those most underrepresented, to become the next generation of lawyers and judges in our highest courts. A staunch proponent of pro bono service, J’Naia serves as pro bono counsel for indigent tenants facing eviction through Nassau/Suffolk Law Services.
2021 Heather Neu, Esq. Rochester
Neu, a 2010 graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Law, is a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Rochester, where she manages matrimonial, family offense and support and custody cases for domestic violence survivors. She is also the creator and co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that educates over 80 Legal Aid employees in diversity, inclusion and cultural competence.
2020 Alexia Korberg, Esq., New York
Alexia is a partner in the Litigation Department, where she specializes in complex civil litigation. She represents clients in high-stakes commercial disputes across a range of industries, including private equity, banking, energy, insurance, technology, and biomedicine. She has extensive experience in state and federal court, at both the trial and appellate levels, and in arbitration. Alexia’s first career was in private equity, and she applies her concomitant understanding of finance, securities, and business to all of her commercial representations. Alexia also has an active pro bono practice. She was part of the legal team that successfully litigated United States v. Windsor from the district court to the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down the key provision of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and a series of cases in Mississippi that invalidated the state’s bans on gay marriage and adoption. Alexia has also co-authored amicus briefs to the Supreme Court and several circuit courts, including in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt on behalf of lawyers who have had abortions. The American Bar Association honored Alexia with its “On the Rise Top 40 Young Lawyers” Award in 2018, and the LGBT Bar Assocation recognized her as one of the “Best 40 LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40” in 2019. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The National Law Journal, Slate and elsewhere, and she regularly speaks at law schools about her practice.
2019 Preetha Chakrabarti, Esq., New York
Preetha Chakrabarti is a counsel in Crowell & Moring’s New York office and is a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property and Environment & Natural Resources groups. Preetha’s intellectual property practice consists of litigation, counseling, and prosecution. Her patent and trademark litigation work includes proceedings in front of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), and involves various industries, from chemicals to pharmaceutical, biotech, software, apparel, fashion, retail, luxury, beauty, and wearable technology. Preetha’s pro bono practice includes cases involving immigration, family, and employment law, as well as IP counseling for non-profit entities. Preetha also successfully represented Sandra Avery, a woman sentenced to life in prison for a non-violent, low-level drug crime, who sought commutation of her sentence from President Obama, reducing her life sentence to time served. Sandra was one of the 95 non-violent drug offenders to whom President Obama granted clemency in December 2015. In recognition of her pro bono contributions, Preetha received the firm’s 2015 George Bailey Award. Preetha received her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 2012, where she graduated magna cum laude, was a Stein Scholar for the Public Interest and a notes & articles editor for the Environmental Law Review. While in law school, Preetha worked as an extern for the Legal Aid Society in New York and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division, Southern District of New York. Prior to joining Crowell & Moring, Preetha worked as a science teacher and administrator at both private and public schools in the New York City metropolitan area. She received her B.A., cum laude, in biology and classics from Brown University and an M.A. from Columbia University, Teachers College, in secondary science education.
2018 Lanessa Chaplin, Esq., Syracuse
Syracuse attorney Lanessa Chaplin of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County has been awarded the New York State Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award for 2018. Chaplin founded the first African American bar association in Central New York – the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association – where she still serves as volunteer executive director. She founded her local NAACP Legal Committee and also co-founded the Onondaga County Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In 2017, she was part of a small sub-committee that successfully created a minority intern/fellowship program, which aims to recruit and retain minority attorneys in the Central New York area. When not busy volunteering, Chaplin is the director of the New Start Reentry Program at the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County. There she works to remove criminal barriers to employment, opening up pathways out of poverty for individuals from disadvantaged communities. Chaplin has reached out to local employers to help educate them on New York non-discrimination laws regarding criminal records, creating more job opportunities in the community.
2017 Curtis A. Johnson, Esq., Rochester
Curtis A. Johnson, a Rochester attorney, has been awarded the New York State Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award for 2017. Johnson is an associate at Bond, Schoeneck & King in Rochester where he concentrates his practice on complex corporate litigation. The award, presented by the Association’s Young Lawyers Section, honors attorneys in practice for fewer than 10 years who have demonstrated outstanding service to both the community and the legal profession. He received the award on January 25 during the Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in New York City. “Curtis Johnson’s outstanding contributions to the profession and his community are an example to other young attorneys of what can be achieved,” said Erin Flynn, of New York City (Law Offices of Eric Franz), who chairs the Young Lawyers Section. “He is continuously finding ways to improve the associations and committees he is involved with,” added Flynn. “He is shaping young lawyers by encouraging their participation and his work with the Rochester Teen Court will help develop the next generation of lawyers.” Johnson has been heavily involved with the Young Lawyers Section of the Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA), including serving as its chair in 2015-16, in which he led the efforts at its annual Silent Auction to benefit the Rochester Teen Court. They raised a record $15,300. Johnson is a member of the MCBA’s Board of Trustees. He also volunteers with the Rochester Teen Court, a local food bank and Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, Bond, Schoeneck & King sponsored a statewide firm team to compete in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure. Johnson organized the firm’s efforts, which raised over $20,000 for diabetes research and related charities. Johnson graduated magna cum laude from Albany Law School in 2007. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Albany.
2016 Jason Aylesworth, Esq., New York City
Jason Aylesworth is an associate at Sendroff & Baruch. He represents represents artists in theater, music, film and television, including dramatists, directors and designers, as well as producers, music publishers and theater companies. An active member of the State Bar’s Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section (EASL), Aylesworth is chair of its Law Student Liaison Committee. He created and moderated continuing legal education programs such as “Crowdfunding for Theatre and Film Under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012” and “Game Not Over: Protection of Free Speech in the Video Game Industry,” for the committee. Aylesworth previously served as co-chair of EASL’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and the Digital Media Committee, as well as the Negotiation Committee for the Dispute Resolution Section. He volunteers for numerous not-for-profit organizations, including New York Foundation for the Arts and Brooklyn Arts Council, providing legal guidance to artists in the community regarding copyright, contracts and negotiation. He also teaches “Performing Arts and the Law” at the Brooklyn College Performing Arts Management Program. A Yonkers resident, he is an assistant scout leader for Boy Scout Troop 29 in Yonkers. Aylesworth received a degree in theater and economics from Fordham University, a certificate in film production from Brooklyn College and a law degree from Touro Law Center. He is admitted to the Bar in both Connecticut and New York.
2015 Jessica B. Lee, Esq., New York
2014 Muhammad U. Faridi, Esq., New York
Mr. Faridi is an associate in the litigation department at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. Prior to joining Patterson, Muhammad served a law clerk for Judge Jack B. Weinstein, Senior U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of New York. Muhammad graduated from CUNY School of Law in 2007 where he served as the symposium editor of the New York City Law Review and on the Moot Court Board. Muhammad is currently serving a 3-year term as the chair of the New York City Bar Association’s capital punishment committee. Muhammad is also a member of the Federal Bar Council’s Inn of Court and previously served on the board of directors of the Muslim Bar Association of New York.
2013 James Michael Paulino II, Esq. Rochester
An associate at Faraci Lange LLP, Paulino concentrates his practice in both commercial and personal injury litigation. He began his career as an associate at Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy LLP. As he maintains a busy caseload, Paulino gives back to his community through the law. He is a past chair of the MCBA’s Young Lawyers Section and was the Section’s delegate to the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. He received the Monroe County Bar Association’s Emerging Bar Leader Award in June 2012.
2012 Karen I. Wu, Esq., New York
Wu is an attorney at the New York City law firm of Perlman & Perlman. She was named the recipient of the 2012 State Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. In her professional capacity, Wu advises non-profit clients and companies engaged in philanthropy and social good on corporate governance, tax, fundraising, contracts, intellectual property, and regulatory matters. She is a regular author and speaker on issues affecting the nonprofit sector. In the community, she puts her skills and knowledge to use providing legal services and counseling to underserved residents in New York City. She also helps promote and develop pro bono opportunities through the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.
2011 Anting J. Wang, Esq., New York
Wang is an associate in the New York firm of Hahn & Hessen LLP. She concentrates her practice in the areas of bankruptcy litigation and arbitration as well as insurance defense and lender liability law. Yet it is her outstanding devotion to fellow young lawyers that has set her apart from her peers. When the economy took its downturn in 2008, Wang noticed that a number of young attorneys were being derailed from their future career plans. Using her business savvy, Wang founded the Society of Young Lawyer Entrepreneurs to provide a forum for young lawyer entrepreneurs to network, socialize and exchange ideas. The program has been a resounding success with “a creative and dynamic membership.” Several young solo practitioners credit Wang for lifting their spirits and providing them with such vital resources during a difficult time.
2010 Joseph M. Hanna, Buffalo
A graduate of the University at Buffalo and University at Buffalo Law School, Hanna has devoted considerable time to increasing diversity efforts in Buffalo, which has been ranked among the 10 most segregated cities in the U.S. He chairs Goldberg Segalla’s diversity taskforce and organizes and chairs “Success in the City,” a diversity networking event that brings together business leaders, politicians, and members of minority bar associations to celebrate the successes and importance of diversity in Buffalo’s developing community. Hanna also founded and serves as the president of Bunkers in Baghdad, Inc., a Buffalo-based non-profit that collects and ships new and used golf balls, clubs and other equipment to U.S. soldiers serving in combat zones. Bunkers also distributes equipment to injured veterans to aid in their rehabilitation. Hanna is also a frequent speaker on diversity issues and has written more than 50 articles and chapters in national and state publications ranging from diversity in the law to sports and entertainment law.
2009 Andrew P. Sparkler, New York City
Since graduating from Fordham University School of Law in 2005, Andrew P. Sparkler of New York(American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) has founded a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing suicide and eliminating the stigma associated with depression by raising awareness and encouraging treatment of depression among adolescents and young adults. Sparkler is the Assistant Director of Legal Corporate for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers “ASCAP” providing legal advice and support to an organization dedicated to protecting its members’ rights. Specifically, Sparkler’s practice involves providing legal advice to ASCAP business units including Marketing, Membership and certain ASCAP subsidiaries and corresponding with foreign performing rights organizations.
2008 David A. Kochman, New York City
David A. Kochman is an associate in the New Yorkoffice of Reed Smith LLP. He concentrates his practice on complex commercial, corporate and insurance recovery litigation matters. Devoting substantial time and effort to pro bono matters, Mr. Kochman serves as post-conviction counsel to a prisoner on death row in Alabama, for whom he recently won an appeal before the 11th Circuit reinstating the client’s habeas petition. Other pro bono projects include co-founding the Hurricane Insurance Claim Help Library, an online resource for individual hurricane victims; serving as attorney-coach for a Harlem high school in the NYSBA’s Mock Trial Tournament; and defending a Tibetan asylum applicant in removal proceedings. While attending law school, Mr. Kochman co-founded the Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal and worked for the Legal Aid Society of New York City representing criminal defendants through Cardozo’s Criminal Defense Clinic. At graduation, Mr. Kochman was presented with the school’s Jacob Burns Medal for Scholastic Achievement. Prior to law school, he worked for the Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset.
2007 Laurie A. Giordano, Rochester
Ms. Giordano has made many valuable contributions to the Rochester and the New York Statelegal communities. She has been active within the New York State Bar Association in several capacities including the Women and the Law Project. She has been a member of the Executive Committee and served as CLE Chair of the Torts, Insurance and Compensation Law Section. She has been a consistent CLE presenter since 2000, as well as the co-Editor of Insurance Law Practice, Chapter 22, Subrogation (Revised 2006), published by the New York State Bar Association. She has been involved with the Insurance Coverage Committee and the Diversity Committee of the Association. Ms. Giordano’s civic and community involvement is widespread and varied. Her mentoring of both area students and young attorneys has included her lecturing, her bar participation, her activities with the local Girl Scouts, her participation in the Association’s Mock Trial Competition, and in the Big Brother/Big Sister Program. Ms. Giordano’s accomplishments are illustrated by the accolades she has received in recent years. In 2006, she was chosen as one of the “Up and Coming” Attorneys in the Rochester area by the Daily Record, the local legal publication. She is truly committed to her New York State Bar Association participation, and her professional contributions were recognized by the Association when she was awarded the Torts, Insurance and Compensation Law Section’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year, and Chair of the Year for 2005. Her service to the local Girl Scouts was also recognized by her receipt of a Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley Green Angel Award in 2006. In addition, as a practicing attorney, Ms. Giordano has been involved in, and instrumental in handling a number of legally significant cases.
2006 Michael C. Rakower, New York City
Solo practitioner focusing on federal litigation and commercial disputes and of counsel to the Law Offices of Gordon Mehler and Constantine Cannon, P.C. University of Virginia School of Law, 1999. Began career handling securities offerings and advising investment banks. Pro bono counseling to businesses devastated by the September 11th attacks and helped to obtain political asylum for refugees. Won six-figure settlement for a prison inmate in a federal lawsuit against the City of New York. Senior law clerk to Hon. Richard C. Wesley, U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Pro bono member of the Prosecutors Office, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, assisting in bringing to trial the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Contributing author to “To Oppose Any Foe: The Legacy of U.S. Intervention in Vietnam.”
2005 Elissa D. Hecker, Irvington
Solo practitioner focusing on copyright, trademark and business law. Brooklyn Law School, 1998. Began career as associate counsel for The Harry Fox Agency, Inc., New York City, until opening her own law practice in 2004. Immediate Past Chair of the New York State Bar Association Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section, and has been the SectionVice Chair, editor of the EASL Journal, and founder and co-chair of the EASL Pro Bono Committee. Member Copyright Society of the USA, the Board of Directors, Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. Frequent author, lecturer and panelist.
2004 John G. Horn, Buffalo
Senior Associate, Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP, Buffalo handles a range of complex litigation matters in state and federal courts including commercial litigation, unfair competition and business torts, product liability, employment discrimination defense, and shareholder derivative and direct actions. Loyola University School of Law, 1998. Began career as confidential law clerk to Senior U.S. District Court Judge John T. Elfvin in the Western District of New York. Frequent presenter at CLE seminars and is admitted to the Seneca Nation of Indians Peacemakers Court. Board of Trustees of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, vice presieent of Lawyers for Learning, Inc., lay reader at Westminster Presbyterian Church, trombonist in Buffalo’s 12-8 Path Band. Also recipient of Buffalo Business First Pathfinders Award, Daily Record’s Ten Up & Coming Attorneys in Western New York, Pro Bono Special Service Award from the U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, Apha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society, and Leadership and Service Award , Loyola University School of Law.
2003 Elizabeth A. Wolford, Rochester
Partner, Wolford & LeClair, LLP, Rochester focusing on commercial, healthcare, personal injury and employment litigation. University of Notre Dame Law School, 1992. At Notre Dame, Research Editor of Notre Dame Law Review. Past President of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys and has coached high school team in NYSBA Mock Trial Tournament. Pro bono representation of indigent and low-income clients through the Volunteer Legal Services Project in Rochester, mentored new attorneys through the Rochester Inns of Court and GRAWA’s mentoring committee. Also recipient of Special Service Award from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.
2002 Bradley P. Kammholz, Rochester
Managing Partner, The Kammholz Law Firm, concentrating on personal injury law. Boston University School of Law, 1990. Co-founder and Past Secretary of the Rochester Inns of Court, Rochester City Elementary School 29 mentor, longtime involvement in Lawyers for Learning, Tools for Schools, American Heart Association. Extensive NYSBA board, section and committee activities. Winner 2001 Rochester Business Journal “40 Under 40” Award, 1998 Monroe County Bar Association President’s Award.2001 Caterine Cerulli, Rochester
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry and Family Violence Clinic, SUNY/Buffalo School of Law, and director, Laboratory of Interpersonal Violence and Victimization. State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law, 1992. Co-founder, SUNY School of Law Domestic Violence Clinic. Honored for pioneering “Legal Links”, which assists Russians with the advancement of the rule of law by partnering with Russian legal professionals. Formerly Monroe County Assistant District Attorney and founder and director of Stop Abuse in the Family Environment, a misdemeanor domestic violence program.
2000 Clyde Jay Eisman, New York City
Law Offices of Clyde Jay Eismann concentrating on solo and small law firm practitioners, litigation and consumer law. Tulane Law School, 1994. Law clerk in the Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense at Fort Meade, Maryland and in the Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Air Force at the Pentagon. Publisher of “The Solo Practitioner”, a quarterly newsletter, and writes a monthly column on solo practice for the New York Law Journal. In 1997, served as senior adjudicator for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, supervising municipal elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Organized the donation of $10,000 in sporting goods to schoolchildren in Bosnia-Herzogovina.