Armenian Bar Association turns another page at 32nd annual meeting in New York –

New York City rarely disappoints and often dazzles, just as it did when it generously hosted the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Armenian Bar Association from November 5-6. The weekend was marked by a deep sense of camaraderie, commitment and collegiality among the many lawyers. , law students and judges in attendance who met in person for the first time in two years due to the global pandemic. Picking up where it left off, the Annual Meeting weekend began with a wonderful welcome reception, followed by engaging panel discussions, meaningful reports on Association activities and the election of new members of the board of directors and officers.

Seemingly straight out of an episode of “Million Dollar Listing New York,” the site of the Friday night welcome reception was a rooftop oasis perched high above the Manhattan side of the East River, overlooking the twinkling lights. of the outer boroughs. The breathtaking skyline was made possible by longtime Armenian bar fan and strategist Emma Arakelian and her husband Tiran Nalbandyan who are stakeholders in this magical residential tower. About 150 members and guests were on hand for an evening with both dark memories and cheerful delicacies, while teeming with sumptuous Armenian food and fine Armenian wines.

The Friday night program included a moving video tribute and personal reflections in honor of the recently deceased former President Edvin Minassian. New York-based Claire Kedeshian was perfect when she ushered in the most appropriate mood for Edvin’s commemorative presentation in which Armenian Bar President Lucy Varpetian, Dr Antranig Kasparian (former colleague of Edvin in community building efforts) and Bita Adham (Edvin’s former associate at law) offered compassionate and thoughtful words of thought. The evening’s musical interlude, provided by Joel A. Martin, aka Jazzical Komitas, was simply spectacular, moving many to tears, with several breathtaking interpretations of the sacred music of Komitas Vartabed.

Lucy Varpetian, President of the Armenian Bar Association

The next day, Midtown Manhattan — and more specifically the intersection of Madison Avenue and 43e Street — has been transformed into the seat of the Armenian Bar for round tables, business and board meetings, and the election of officers. The spacious, high-ceilinged and comfortable auditorium has been secured thanks to the good graces of Taline Sahakian and Grant Petrosyan of Constantine Cannon LLP, who maintains his New York office in the same historic location. Two strong round tables anchored the Saturday legal education platform in this space.

The first program, titled “Liability and Remedies under United Nations Treaty Bodies”, was moderated by Levon Golendukhin of Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP and galvanized by Alexander Bedrosyan of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Astghik Hairapetian, Legal Clerk in the United States District Court. for the Southern District of Texas. Their discussion offered an introduction to sophisticated and topical subjects of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which appear similar but have distinct characteristics. The panelists also highlighted the rights of individuals under various human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which is the foundation for action by State to State Armenia v Azerbaijan currently pending before the International Court of Justice. CERD is also the legal framework for a petition supported by the Armenian Bar to the Responsible United Nations Committee on behalf of the individual victims of Azerbaijan’s war of unlawful aggression against Artsakh.

The second continuing legal education presentation, titled “Free Speech on the Roberts Court and the Trump Court,” proved to be fully satisfactory for practitioners and students in the field of First Amendment law, and equally gratifying for newcomers. new arrivals in the region. In the tradition of the best professors who teach with simple, understandable and relevant methods, Professor Gregory Magarian explained how the United States Supreme Court influences the quality of our public debate to the extent that it has the ability to define the scope and the power of the First Amendment. Interestingly, Professor Magarian, who teaches constitutional law at Washington University Law School in St. Louis, explained how First Amendment legal doctrine is fundamentally shaped not so much by the judicial branch. which draws its contours, but rather in political / social contexts as we experience them. Professor Magarian is just one of the few Armenian-Americans to have served as a court clerk at the United States Supreme Court, having worked as a court clerk for Judge John Paul Stevens. The presentation was moderated by Taline Sahakian of Constantine Cannon LLP.

In the ensuing business meeting, which several dozen members attended both in person and virtually, President Lucy Varpetian gave a comprehensive report on the Association’s many activities over the past year. year. The overview focused on the current state and future plans of the Association’s pro bono clinics, domestic violence initiatives, student mentorship and outreach programs, and, in particular, mobilization of a large number of Armenian bar members during and after the 44-day war in an effort to legally challenge the wide range of unlawful intrusions suffered by the Armenian nation.

The business meeting ended with elections for the vacant posts on the Board of Governors. Each year, 5-6 members are elected for a three-year term to serve on the 18-member council. Karnig Kerkonian of Illinois, Mesrop Khudagoulian of California and Scott Ohnegian of New Jersey are re-elected governors. Taline Sahakian of New York and Tigran Palyan of California were first elected to the board of directors, replacing the expiring terms of Armenian bar leaders and pillars Saro Kerkonian and Tina Odjaghian of California. Reflecting her enduring humility, Christine Engustian, a member of the Rhode Island Board of Directors, offered her seat on the Board of Directors to enable the next generation of leaders to rise through the leadership ranks of the Armenian Bar. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy Ashvanian, a catalyst for several important Armenian Bar initiatives, assumed the seat on the board.

The new Board of Governors then re-elected Lucy Varpetian of California as president, Taline Sahakian of New York and Raffi Sarrafian of Illinois as vice-presidents, Grant Petrosyan of New York as secretary and Gerard Kassabian of California. as treasurer.

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