Nominations for the 2nd Annual Trial Lawyers Awards has closed. We look forward to presenting the awards at the TICL and Trial Lawyers Sections Annual Meeting Awards and Networking Reception on January 19th, 2023 at 6:00pm at the New York Hilton Midtown. More information coming soon!
Register for the annual meeting and the Awards and Networking reception today!
Betty D. Friedlander Award for Trial Excellence
The Betty D. Friedlander Award for Trial Excellence was created by the Trial Lawyers Section to honor the pioneering career of Betty Friedlander, one of the first female trial lawyers in upstate New York.
To qualify, applicants should: have practiced substantially as a trial lawyer in state (or federal) courts in upstate New York (outside New York City); and exhibited excellence in cultivation and use of trial skills, in, inter alia, courtroom practice, case preparation, client and collegial relations, litigation strategy and ethics; and demonstrated commitment to excellence in trial practice, for example, by professional engagement, writing, advocacy, teaching or mentoring.
Hon. Laura M. Jordan, Justice of the Supreme Court, 3rd Judicial District Of New York
Laura M. Jordan began her career as a plaintiffs trial lawyer in 2004 under the guidance of attorneys John K. Powers and Daniel R. Santola of the law firm Powers & Santola, LLP in Albany, New York. During the ensuing 17 years, Laura represented seriously injured individuals and families of wrongful death victims in trial courts throughout New York State. Her practice primarily focused on medical malpractice, particularly delayed diagnosis of cancer, with multiple million-dollar settlements and verdicts achieved for her clients. While she tried many cases to verdict, the $11.6 million verdict she obtained for her client in Warren County was believed to be the largest for an adult in the history of the entire 11-county Fourth Judicial District.
Laura was recognized in 2021 as Lawyer of the Year in Medical Malpractice from Best Lawyers in America and as 2020 Lawyer of the Year in Personal Injury from Best Lawyers in America. She was also chosen as a “Top 25 Women Lawyers” in Upstate New York by Super Lawyers in 2019, 2020 and 2021. In addition to her practice, Laura served many years as the Chairperson of the Committee on Character and Fitness for the New York State Supreme Court, Third Judicial District. Laura is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, past President of the Capital District Trial Lawyers Association and past President of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, the largest state trial bar association in America.
In 2021, Laura was elected to serve as a New York State Supreme Court Justice for the Third Judicial District. She lives in Castleton-on-Hudson with her husband, Patrick K. Jordan, Esq. and their two children.
2021 Award Winner: Cynthia LaFave, Esq. (LaFave, Wein & Frament, PLLC)
Peter C. Kopff Trial Advocacy Award
The Peter C. Kopff Trial Advocacy Award was created by the Trial Lawyers Section to recognize the professional career of a trial lawyer in private practice that embodies the highest ideals of the Trial Lawyers Section.
To qualify, applicants should have: practiced as a trial lawyer in private practice in New York State; and demonstrated successful efforts in providing high quality education, training, teaching, or mentoring.; and exhibited excellence in trial advocacy and/or judicial service in the courtroom and demonstrated integrity and ethics; and demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Helene E. Blank, Esq., Blank & Star, Pllc, Brooklyn, New York
Helene E. Blank has been a litigator for most of her career having tried major personal injury lawsuits for both plaintiffs and defendants. She has also been involved in complex commercial and real estate matters that have included appointments as Receiver by Judges in both Kings and New York Counties.
Helene Blank was appointed as the Receiver for the East 51st Crane collapse property in Manhattan as well as Receiver for Commercial Property in Brooklyn, which housed a NYC High School and a Board of Education Special School for Problem Students. She has also handled corporate dissolution actions, sales of businesses. She has also handled multiple Referee matters, including surplus money cases and realty actions involving matters such as brokers’ fee disputes.
For most of her forty years as an attorney, she has been involved in multiple Bar Associations because she believes they are vital to the profession.
She has made it a centerpiece of her career to connect to younger attorneys, especially woman – to mentor and guide them. To that end, Blank has been the most deeply involved with the following organizations:
- The Brooklyn Woman’s Bar Association, Past President
- The Women’s Trial Lawyers Caucus – Founding Member
- The New York State Trial Lawyers Association – Board of Directors, Member of Executive Committee, Dean of the New York State Trial Lawyers Institute – its educational arm which oversees and directs its CLE Programs and publications, as well as the Chair and co-chair over many years of many committees within the organization
- Nathan R. Sobel Kings County American Inn of Court – Founding Member, Master and Past President
- The Metropolitan Women’s Bar Association – Past President
Additionally, she is a member of the New York State Bar Association, The New York State Women’s Bar Association, The Jewish Lawyers Guild, the Brooklyn Bar Association, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Columbian Lawyers and JALBCA.
As an attorney, Blank has been appointed to numerous Office of Court Administration Committees. She is presently a member of the OCA Civil Practice Advisory Committee. Through that committee she wrote an amendment to the CPLR, that our Committee approved and helped advance. It passed the legislature and was signed into law. Attorneys in New York, like in so many other states, can now subpoena documents for trial to their offices.
Helene has been asked to speak to the bench and the bar frequently and have done so for many organizations. She has also lectured for the New York Supreme Court Judges Associations, taught classes for Newly Elected Judges, lectured for Judges of the Civil Court of the City of New York and lectured for the following organizations: the New York State Bar, The Brooklyn Bar, New York County Lawyers, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, and the New York State Trial Lawyers Institute. She has been appointed by various organizations to be their representative on Judicial Screening Panels. She also been appointed to the Committee of Character and Fitness for the Appellate Division First Department.
2021 Award Winner: Kevin Hunt, Esq. (Gale Gale & Hunt, LLC)
Justice Irma Vidal Santaella Memorial Award for Excellence in the Courtroom
The Justice Irma Vidal Santaella Memorial Award for Excellence in the Courtroom was created by the Trial Lawyers Section in honor of the First Puerto Rican/Hispanic Female Judge elected to the New York State Supreme Court.
To qualify, applicants should have: practiced substantially as a trial lawyer in state (or federal) courts in downstate New York; and exhibited excellence in trial advocacy and/or judicial service in the courtroom and demonstrated integrity and ethics; and demonstrated commitment to excellence in trial practice, and /or judicial service by professional engagement and involvement in the community, teaching or mentoring; and demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Hon Doris M. Gonzalez, Justice of the Supreme Court, 12th Judicial District of New York
Justice Doris Gonzalez was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx. She grew up in The Boston Secor Housing Projects located near Dyre Ave. Both of her parents were born in Puerto Rico and met here in New York. Her mom was a part-time lunch aid at her grammar school, Saint Philip and James and her father a furniture finisher. Her father completed seventh grade and her mother received her GED thru a program offered by NYCHA. She has an older brother, retired from Law Enforcement and a sister who is the Assistant to a Podiatrist in the Bronx. Most importantly, she is a single mother to a daughter Milta, who is 22 years old, and a volleyball player attending Monroe College.
Justice Gonzalez attended, Cardinal Spellman High School, Fordham University, Rose Hill, and received her Juris Doctor from C.U.N.Y Law School at Queens College.
In 1985 she started her legal career in the insurance industry where very few Hispanic female attorneys were employed. She rose thru the ranks to become a senior trial attorney, trying high profile cases. After 15 years of practice in the private sector, she went to work for a Supreme Court Judge in the Appellate Term 1st Department and then in Supreme Court Civil Division, Bronx County.
She served as a member of: 1) her local Community Board, 2) the Neighborhood Advisory Board (Chairperson), and 3) the Community Action Board (Chairperson for Queens and Bronx County).
She was elected as a Civil Court Judge in Bronx County, in November of 2006. In December 2009, she was appointed by Judge Pfau as Acting Supreme Court Justice. She sat in Supreme Criminal Bronx County for three years; Supreme Court Matrimonial Division for three years; and now sits in Supreme Court Civil Division Bronx County handling an array of civil matters in the Special Trial Part, and the Foreclosure Part. She was elected to Supreme Court in 2016. December 21, 2018, she was appointed by Judge Larry Marks as Administrative Judge of Supreme Court Bronx County Civil Matters.
She served on the following: i) President of the Latino Judges Association; ii) Chair of the Gender Fairness Committee a) on the “women of distinction” subcommittee; iii) the Chair of the Committee to Encourage Judicial Service, for the New York City Bar; iv) appointed to the Judicial Advisory Council and sat on the facilities and technology committee.
She remains on the: Foreclosure Task Force of the New York City Bar; Special Committee to Encourage Judicial Service; Board Chair for not for profit Legacy Volleyball Club; Board of Trustee of Preston High School; member of The Bronx County Bar Association and The Bronx Women’s Bar Association; member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association; Cervantes Society; the New York State Bar Association and The City Bar.
She was an Adjunct Professor for Pace University Paralegal Program and newly joined Monroe College School of Criminal and Social Justice as an Adjunct Professor.
2021 Award Winner: Chief Judge Janet DiFiore (NYS Office of Court Administration, NYS Court of Appeals, Albany, New York)