President's Membership Message

Dear Members, Prospective Members and some " Old Friends " we haven't seen in awhile,

Its membership time again and also our 80th Anniversary year.

We have lots of plans to celebrate and we want to celebrate with you.


Many of you have expressed confusion over several things related to membership dues.

You have asked:


The membership year actually begins June 1 to May 31 ofthe following year.  However, by the time each chapter closes out their final membership reports and installs their new Boards, its suddenly August or perhaps September.   It ends up you are getting an invoice from the WOMEN'S BAR OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK and a membership application from the Nassau County Women's Bar within several weeks of each other.. You think why am I getting two bills?

So the real question isWHAT SHOULD I DO AND WHOM SHOULD I PAY?

The answer is either one is acceptable because a membership in the Nassau County Women's Bar Association (NCWBA) is a membership in the Women's Bar of the State of New  York (WBASNY).  The advantage of using the WBASNY website is you can pay by credit card ora check and the price is always $95.00 (not just an Early Bird special). Yet, students pay $20 to join WBASNY and they are free to join the Nassau County Women's Bar Association.

When you join the NCWBA you can select committees and areas of interest on a local level.

Bottom line is: just join either oneand you are a member of both.

You will be able to participate in all the programs in Nassau County and You will be able to participate in all the programs throughout the state.

So choose what is best for you and JOIN!!

here is the website:

NCWBA Membership

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Maureen McLoughlin

Linda Kelly Mejias, Esq. to Receive NCWBA Virgina C. Duncombe, Esq. Award

We are pleased to announce that Linda Kelly Mejias, Esq. will receive the Virginia C. Duncombe, Esq. Scholarship Award at our Annual Installation Dinner

Linda Kelly Mejias, Esq. is a Past President of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association (NCWBA), and has previously served as a member of the Board of Directors, and has held the officer positions of Vice President of Membership, Treasurer and Corresponding Secretary. She presently serves as the NCWBA web mistress and Communications Chair.  In addition to her service to the Nassau Women’s Bar, Linda has previously served as President of the Nassau County Chapter of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association (LIHBA)m and is the current Secretary of the LIHBA.  She is active in the Nassau County Bar Association (NCBA), and is a past member of the Association Membership Committee, where she i worked to develop strategies and programs to increase the diversity of the NCBA.

Linda is active in her local community and church as a mentor and leader.  Linda is passionate about helping young women understand and appreciate their full potential and guiding them in achieving that full potential through a unique approach to learning and growth in all aspects of their life.  Her philosophy is one of balance.  She teaches her mentees to take the time to develop and take care of themselves in the various areas of their lives – education, professional, health, spirituality, and relationships.  She also works within the minority communities on Long Island through various organizations such as the Long Island Latino Teacher’s Association, Girls, Inc., and the Latina Moms of Long Island to teach students and parents about the value and necessity of higher learning and education, as well the importance of working hard in school and in any employment in order to achieve the “American Dream”.  Most recently, Linda was elected to the Board of Herstory Writers Workshop, whose mission is to bring unheard voices into the public arena, transforming lived experiences into written memoirs powerful enough to change hearts, minds and policy.

She is presently the Principal Law Clerk to the Honorable Edward A. Maron, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Nassau County.  Prior to being a Law Clerk, Linda was an Assistant Town Attorney for the Town of North Hempstead, and prior to that she was a Litigation Associate at Carter Ledyard and Milburn, LLP on Wall Street, focusing on white collar criminal defense litigation.  

Linda is a graduate of the Waldorf School of Garden City, where she later served on the Board of Trustees.  She graduated magna cum laude in the accelerated program from Wellesley College, with a double major in Psychology and Latin American Studies.  She received her Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School.  

On a personal note, Linda is a First Generation American, whose Mother immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 1963, and whose Father was exiled from Cuba in 1962 as an anti-communist leader.  She is fluent in Spanish, and proficient in German and Italian.  

Linda is also a devoted mother to her treasured son, Davey.

Emily Franchina, Esq. to Receive NCWBA Rona Seider, Esq. Award

We are please to announce that

Emily Franchina, Esq. 

will receive the

Rona Seider, Esq. Award

at our Annual Installation Dinner

Emily F. Franchina is a founding shareholder of the firm, Franchina & Giordano, P.C., an A.V. ratedlaw firm.  She is an A.V. rated, super lawyer and limits her practice to elder law, wills, trusts, estate planning, estate administration and adoption.

After graduating from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University in 1989, Ms. Franchina immediately became involved in legal organizations centered around pro-bono work and community improvement through the New York State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, a group that she chaired in 1998-1999. Ms. Franchina has continued her involvement in the New York State Bar Association into the present day. She served multiple terms as an appointedmember of the Nominating Committee, the Judicial Nominations Review Committee, a member of the House of Delegates, the decision making body of the State Bar, and as a Vice President of the Association and is active in Section membership relating to her areas of practice. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Fellows and the Chair of the Marketing Committee of the New York Bar Foundation in Albany.

Ms. Franchina’s commitment to the community is evidenced by participation and membership in the Mineola Garden City Rotary, the Advisory Board of St. Johnland Nursing Home, and the Legal Advisory Board of the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF). She was appointed by Chief Judge Jonathon Lippman to a statewide committee on Access to Justice and Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau to the Advisory Committee to the Public Administrator.

A member of the Nassau County Bar Association, Ms. Franchina has served on the Executive Committee of the Nassau County Bar Association since 2004. She was the fifth female President in the Association’s 107 year history and served in that capacity from 2009-2010. She is active in many of the committees including her service as past chair and member of Committee on Elder Law, Social Services and Health Advocacy, Surrogate’s Court Estates and Trusts Committee, Advisory Board of the Nassau Academy of Law and WE CARE fund Advisory Board. In 2006, Ms. Franchina was honored with the distinguished service award by the Nassau County Bar Association’s WE CARE Fund, Inc, the charitable arm of the association.

Emily F. Franchina was named one of Long Island’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2008 and 2010.  Ms. Franchina is the 2009 recipient of the Juliette Low Award of Distinction for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, and the Annual Business Leadership Award for her volunteer activities from the Advancement for Commerce, Industry and Technology, (ACIT). Ms. Franchina was awarded the HERstory Award from Hofstra University in 2010, and she is the recipient of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association Courage Award, in 2011 and was named a New York Super Lawyer in the area of Elder Law, and the Arthritis Foundation “Woman on the Move” in 2013.

Cara P. Cronin, Esq. to Receive NCWBA Bessie Ray Geffner Award

We are please to announce that Cara P. Cronin, Esq. will receive the Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Award at our
Annual Installation Dinner

Cara P. Cronin has experience negotiating commercial tax certiorari matters in New York City, Upstate New York, Nassau County and Suffolk County. Her current focus is in New York City where she settles cases with the Tax Commission as well as the New York City Law Department.

Additionally, Cara heads Cronin & Cronin's Residential Department. She has routinely appeared in Court before Judges as well as Hearing Officers and successfully resolved numerous residential cases.

Prior to joining Cronin & Cronin, Cara worked in Washington D.C. at the National Republican Congressional Committee. She continues to be involved in politics and has acted as a consultant to several State Senate Campaigns on Long Island.

Cara is a Delegate to the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York.  She is also on the board of the Long Island Real Estate Group and is extremely active in LIREG W.  She has been on the committee for the American Heart Association Long Island Go Red for Women Luncheon and currently is on the committee for the Safe Center LI Annual Gala. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, Nassau County Bar Association and Suffolk County Bar Association.

Invitation by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks to submit comments re: New York State Courts Electronic Filing Program

The Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence Marks is seeking comments addressing the New York State Courts Electronic Filing Program. Please click here to see the attached memorandum. 

Please provide any comments you may have on this topic to for consideration NO LATER THAN MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016; 12:00PM.  


Thank you in advance for your consideration.


By: Joan Axelrod Siegelwax

The world is moving at a very fast pace.  What are you doing to keep in step?

Every day we hear of corporate mergers, downsizing and restructures. What actions are you taking to rewrite your script to ensure you do not wind up on the cutting room floor?

Did you choose to stay home devoting your energy to the betterment of your family and now face a looming empty nest?  What will you do with the next chapter of your life?

It does not matter where you turn; work and life are moving at a dizzying pace.  People, vocations and emerging technologies are in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. We face a daily backdrop of high alert and digital connection.  No wonder Transition and Change Management have become the adopted vernacular to describe daily existence.

How can one cope with a state of uncertainty and a general sense of unrest?

I cannot overstate the importance of creating a strong contingency plan.  Why wait till life is on a downward spiral to pick up the pieces and turn life around? Having a strong backup plan is not only practical but can give you the confidence required to leverage and improve your current circumstances.

Would you go on a road trip without a destination, map, gas, and provisions?  Would you go back to school without properly researching the program?  Do you step into the ocean with your eyes closed and let the first wave knock you over and spin you around? Then why would you do this in life and your career?

Why show up without the proper skills and a well thought-out strategy? What actions and steps can you set in motion immediately to ensure you are ready to face any and all unlikely events or circumstances?

I recently led a round table discussion group at a Leadership Conference on the topic of sharing our most valuable secrets and tips for success.  I introduced the concept of having a Plan B regardless of your current work status. There was a member of our table who was incredibly quiet the entire discussion.  I assumed they were unmoved by the discussion.  I received an email shortly after the discussion sharing how powerful this concept is. They assumed "that if they showed up each day and did a good job the powers that be would give you a promotion and raise".  It never dawned on them that not anyone else is responsible for your development plan and ultimate destiny.

We can all learn from this lesson.  Don't wait for the fork in the road to form a new path.  Lay down a purposeful track and let life adapt to your path.  Vow to be the best in class and embellish your current role and life.  We all deserve to be happy and on purpose.  Don’t wait for necessity or catastrophe. Start building today for the future of your dreams.

Here are my Tips for Building a Strategic Plan B

1. Get real!

Take a fearless and honest look at your current circumstances.  Are you showing up as the best possible version of yourselves? Is your position and company secured? If your company took a downturn would you be the first to go? Are you doing what it takes to ensure your relevancy?

2.  Keep up with the Joneses!

How current are your skills sets?  Are you keeping up with the current technology? Are you raising your hand for stretch assignments? If not get started yesterday.

3. Ready Set Learn!

Knowledge has never been easier to acquire.  If you don't know something, Google it.  Want an up to the minute definition, try Wikipedia.  There are webinars, audiobooks, podcasts and multiple books on every topic all downloadable to your smartphone. Today you can get an MBA without leaving the comfort of your home!  No excuse, stay relevant!


4. Expand your circle.

Network, Network, Network, and just when you think you can't stand it one more minute, Network some more. 

5. Acquire a Personal Board

Times of change are difficult. Your Personal Board will be your Life Line back. They will keep you on track, honest and moving in the right direction.  They will become your biggest critics and your strongest advocates all wrapped up in one!

6. Volunteer: Give and Learn

Volunteering is a great way to keep up your spirit while going through turbulent times.  Why not volunteer your services in a way that will require you to learn different skill sets? These skills can be leveraged in your current role or added to your resume for future positions.

7. Take a break

I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during times of change.  Change is exhausting. You are in a constant state of uncertainty, learning, stepping out of your comfort zone, and all while showing up at your personal best. Eat Well, Sleep, Nap, Take Breaks, Laugh, See Friends, Exercise (preferably outside), Schedule Fun.

8. Take risks

Change is risky business.  Going back to school is scary.  Learning new technology is overwhelming.  Constantly showing up for networking events can be daunting. Creating an on line presence makes one vulnerable to the masses.  You know the old adage, no risk no reward.

9. Step Out

Stepping out of your comfort zone is also not easy. I suggest a change of mindset.  Think of trying new things as an adventure.  You will not like everything, but you never know what will resonate. I think of how empty my life would be if I did not meet all of my great friends through Networking.  What if I never took the risk that first Sunday and walked into NYU for my Coaching Certificate? Trust me I was terrified!

10. Get comfortable with discomfort

My biggest life lesson during my transition from running a Sales and Marketing department to heading up Human Resources and starting my business as an executive coach is that anything is possible.  I mean anything!  We all have the potential to be, do and have anything we want; we just need to be willing to put in the work.  I now welcome uncertainty as it is what gives me grit.  It is what gives me the gumption each day to show up as the best possible version of myself and never, never, never give up.  One can never truly know what lurks around the corner, but I do know I welcome the challenge.  I am ready willing and able to do whatever it takes to reach my full potential.  I recommend you do the same.

Available at: ttp://!Transition-to-Transformation-Navigating-Change/c253/55d392c30cf24b341cab1998


   Gina Pirozzi,  Partner  G. Pirozzi Consulting   212-228-1249


Gina Pirozzi,  Partner

G. Pirozzi Consulting


By: Gina Pirozzi

Over two decades in the legal marketing industry, I’ve seen big changes.  In the nineties, senior partners routinely believed that law firms didn’t need marketing support.  Eventually, marketing departments grew at big firms and everyone from solos on up understood the power of marketing their services and expertise.  Even with that acceptance, the vast majority of lawyers will articulate how they attract new clients the same way:  We do good work.  We build a professional and personal network who trusts in our ability.  Members of that network refer prospects to us.

They’re right.  That IS how they get new clients.  However, when I ask them, “What about the clients you don’t get?  Why aren’t you getting them?” I’m met with blank stares.  Recently, I saw a breakthrough.  In a conversation with two name partners of a metro-area firm, one said to me, “We don’t get our business from Google.”  Then, after a pause, the second looked at me and said, “But I feel like we should.”

He couldn’t have been more correct.  A 2013 study revealed that about half of all people surveyed either seek a referral from a friend or their current attorney if they need specialized legal service.  While that’s a powerful endorsement of “the way good lawyers have always gotten new clients”, it also raises a huge question …. What about the other half?  Not surprisingly, the survey goes on to say the other half are Googling, visiting online legal directories and other digital resources in search of an attorney. 

And the study didn’t account for people in the first group who went online at some point in the process.  We all get trusted recommendations regarding where to eat, what contractor to use or a medical specialist, yet still check that reference out on Google.  It stands to reason the same thing happens with lawyer referrals.

So what should a lawyer do to appeal to the other half?  Here are three simple suggestions:

Jump into social media.

Savvy marketers will tell you we are fast approaching a business climate wherein, “If you don’t exist on social media, you don’t exist”.  Just as businesses reluctantly accepted the cell phone, the internet, and e-mail, there is no way to avoid accepting social media.  And why would you want to?

At its core, marketing is about targeting a select group of the population and sharing a targeted message with them.  Social media is literally built for that exact functionality.   You can decide exactly who to talk to and share exactly what you want as often as you want … and it doesn’t cost anything. 

Still, lawyers resist social media more than the business population at large.  This is likely due to the fact they view it as a technology and may be uncomfortable with their lack of expertise.  Frequent conference speaker David Shing, AOL’s Digital Prophet (that’s his actual job title), reminds his audiences to think of social media as a utility rather than a technology.  We don’t need to understand the ins and outs of electricity to hit the light switch and work a few hours after dark, or be masters of telecommunication to pick up the phone and call a potential client.  Stop thinking about how social media works and concentrate on the simple fact that it is an impactful tool to share your message with a key audience. The vast majority of what you share with a potential client or referring attorney in person, by e-mail or on the phone can be shared more efficiently via social media.

Love The Sound of Your Digital Voice

Content is king online and you want a strong digital voice.  Good content gets shared on social media and gets found by internet search engines.  Whatever it is that makes you unique – a specialty, a verdict, a fee structure, deep industry knowledge, a committee membership – should be part of your digital footprint beyond your own website.  Whether you’re sharing traditional Law Journal articles on your website or posting an update on LInkedIN, it becomes part of your searchable content and makes it easier for prospective clients to find you.  This is even more effective with what are known as “long tail search terms”.  In other words, your chances of coming up in Google results when someone searches “Long Island attorney” may be remote.  Long tail terms, however – “Long Island lawyer estates and guardianships for disabled children” or “Online fantasy sports state by state laws” – can deliver the perfect client …. If, and only if, you have posted content that reflects your expertise in that area.

Embrace Avvo

Of my three recommendations, I know this is the least popular, but it may be the most vital.  It’s true that Avvo attorney ratings have little credibility today and that they are essentially “muscling into” the legal marketing arena demanding participation from lawyers.  But they’re following the tried and true digital business plan of Wikipedia, Angie’s List and others that faced all the same criticism before eventually bridging the consumer credibility gap and becoming mainstream tools.  Avvo has begun running national television commercials.  Its CEO, Mark Britton, was EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.  They doubled headcount in their Seattle headquarters in 2014 and will double it again in 2015.  All indications are the company is growing in to a more important player every day and will eventually become a major client acquisition tool (especially for consumer-facing attorneys).  Even today, if you Google your own name with the word “Attorney” after it, you’ll likely get your Avvo profile as one of the first results.  What’s more, their system is actually fair and easy to work with.  They want you to submit information about your career, references from colleagues, peers and clients and – if you do so – your numerical rating will rise accordingly. 

Avvo is here to stay.  Make it work for you!


Joan Axelrod Siegelwax

Joan Axelrod Siegelwax

By Joan Axelrod Siegelwax

President and Founder of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, 516-359-8380

“Summer time and the living is easy”. That is the tune we all hope to sing in the summer, unfortunately this is not always the case.   Balancing one’s personal life with professional responsibilities can become even more challenging when case loads and work pressures continue to turn on the heat!
Here are my favorite tips for staying cool, calm and collected in the summer months
1.    Clean up your sleep hygiene- Even the scariest case load becomes easier to face after a good night’s sleep.  Cool down the room, lower the shades, cut down on your caffeine consumption and cut off e-mail checks an hour before bed.  (Drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help.)

2.    Take a breath- We all over react from time to time. Add heat, stress and a touch of overwhelmed to the pot and it becomes a real pressure cooker! Instead of blowing the lid off the top why not STOP and take a deep breath or two or count to ten. When challenges threaten your composure this will help get your emotions back in check.

3.    Embrace the Light- Let’s face it, we all work too late.  The good news is that in the summer we can stay at our desks until 7:00 or 7:30 PM and still have an hour of sunlight!  Think of all the great things you can do with this extra hour?  Take a run. Meet a friend or loved one for a drink or dinner at an outside restaurant. Take a walk on the beach. Garden or simply sit outside to finish up your phone calls and work, (if you must!).

4.    Stay hydrated- Soda, ice coffee, and ice tea might quench your thirst but they will dehydrate you in the long run. If you are like me, drinking gallons and gallons of water is a drag!  Throwing in fresh berries, lemon, or even mint can help water go down easier.

5.    Keep it light- Nothing slows down productivity more than a heavy, greasy breakfast or lunch. Keep fruit, nuts and raw vegetables handy to keep temptation down.

6.    Turn it up- Nothing lightens the mood better than upbeat music.  In the summer months why not turn on Reggae, the Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet to lighten the mood in the office or at your desk.

7.    Take it outside- Instead of eating lunch at your desk why not grab a colleague and eat outside?  If you need to work through lunch bring your work outside and handle a task that is less stressful.  Just being out in the fresh air and sunlight will help elevate your mood.

8.    Reconnect- Who have you been neglecting during the long cold months of winter? Summer is a great time to reconnect.  Everyone is anxious to get out and enjoy the summer months.  Block time in your schedule for friends.  Summer months go by quickly. Blocking the time guarantees you don’t miss out.

9.    Disconnect- OK, you’re saying, now you have gone too far!  This is the hardest suggestion but totally necessary to regroup and unwind.  Take a dedicated e-mail and cell phone break.  It does not matter if it is for an hour, during one meal, one morning, and one day or even just at the gym, detaching will do you well.

10.    Escape!  Summer is a great time for a mini excursion.  Take a day trip to the wineries, the Hamptons, the zoo, the city, or upstate.  It doesn’t matter if you check into a local hotel and sit at the pool, getting away for a couple of hours or a day will help you rewind the clock.  If you can’t get away at least grab a good book and escape right on your coach or lounge chair.

11.    Pamper yourself.  Self Care always elevates your mood, decreases stress and increases confidence.  Get a message, pedicure, manicure, facial, or try a cool new haircut.

12.    Layer it- Stress is bad enough, being overheated and stressful is even worse.  The challenge of dressing comfortably in the summer is that every office, conference room, courthouse or restaurant you visit is a different temperature.  You can be hot one minute and freezing the next!  Dressing in layers and carrying a sweater or scarf in your briefcase can help guarantee your comfort at all times

Whether you adopt one or two of these suggestions or all twelve even the simplest shift in behaviors can bring about positive change.  Why not find a “Stress Buster” accountability partner in your office or professional network? They can help keep you on track and support you in turning these suggestions into habits.  Make it a great summer, enjoy, and make the most of the months ahead! UNLEASH THE POWER OF ALL THAT IS POSSIBLE!

NCWBA Treasurer, Elaine M. Colavito, Esq., Named as One of the 2015 Long Island Public Interest and Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Recipients at Touro's 21st Goods and Services Auction

We are proud to congratulate NCWBA Treasurer, Elaine M. Colavito, Esq., for being chosen as one of the 2015 Long Island Public Interest and Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Recipients at the Touro's 21st Goods and Services Auction held on March 11, 2015*.

Elaine M. Colavito is an associate with the Firm who concentrates her practice in matrimonial and family law, civil litigation and immigration matters.  She was previously associated with a civil litigation law firm on Long Island.

Ms. Colavito is a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association and the New York County Bar Association. She currently writes a monthly column for The Suffolk Lawyer, a publication of the Suffolk County Bar Association, entitled "Bench Briefs." Ms. Colavito is also the author of an article entitled “Social Networking Sites and the Right to Privacy: Kathleen Romano v. Steelcase and Educational Institutional Cooperative Services, Inc., Index No.: 2233/06,” Medicine and Law Committee Newsletter, Winter 2011, a publication of the American Bar Association.

Ms. Colavito graduated from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center (J.D., magna cum laude, 2007) and holds an undergraduate degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook (B.A., summa cum laude, 2003). She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. 

*Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Touro Law Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program, funding stipends for students to work in public interest or non-profit organizations. The Auction also recognizes attorneys for their commitment and dedication to pro bono and public interest work through the Public Interest Attorney of the Year Program, chaired by Lois Carter Schlissel of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein.

Hon. Sharon M. J. Gianelli, J.S.C. to be honored by the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County

On Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 6:00 p.m., the Hon. Sharon M. J. Gianelli, J.S.C., will receive the Norman F. Lent Memorial Award from the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County. The event will take place at the Fox Hollow in Woodbury and is black-tie optional. 
For more information or to RSVP to attend, please contact: Krista Nielsen at 516-408-3666.


NCWBA President-Elect, Simone M. Freeman, Esq. Changes Law

We are proud to congratulate NCWBA President-Elect, Simone M. Freeman, Esq., for having successfully argued the issue of whether applications for loading and unloading areas and parking variances were properly treated by the Board of Zoning and Appeals of the Town of North Hempstead as applications for area variances before the New York State Court of Appeals.

Matter of Colin Realty Co., LLC v. Town of North Hempstead

Argued September 10, 2014
Decided October 16, 2014
On October 16, 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals issued its decision in the Matter of Colin Realty Co., LLC. v. Town of North Hempstead, et al, which revisited certain of its prior holdings and clarified the manner in which zoning boards of appeals must consider requests for off-street parking variances.   AmatoLaw Group, PLLC, the Town of North Hempstead's (the "Town") outside counsel for this matter, believes this decision will be beneficial to the vitality of downtown communities on Long Island and throughout the state.  
This matter arose from the 2011 decision of the Town Board of Zoning and Appeals (the "Board") granting an application for loading area and parking variances for a proposed 45-seat, full-service restaurant, which is a conditionally permitted use under the Town Code.  The proposed restaurant would be operated on a parcel, which was developed prior to the Town's enactment of off-street parking restrictions and does not provide any off-street parking or loading areas.  Accordingly, the variance applications sought relief from the Town Code's current off-street parking provisions, which would require the proposed restaurant to provide 24 off-street parking spaces and a loading area.  The Board treated the requested variances as area variances, as opposed to use variances.  The former is generally granted when a property is configured in such a way as to prevent construction in compliance with applicable zoning ordinances, whereas the latter is necessary to change a permitted use.
Court proceedings challenging the Board's decision granting area variance relief for the proposed restaurant were subsequently commenced by Colin Realty, LLC ("Colin"), an adjoining landowner.  Colin claimed that the request for a variance from the off-street parking requirements should have been treated as a use variance.  In support of its argument, Colin cited the Court of Appeals' holding in Matter of Off Shore Rest. Corp. v. Linden, 30 N.Y.2d 160 (1977) ("Off Shore").  Contrary to Colin's position, Off Shore did not mandate that parking variances must be treated as use variances.  Rather, the Court of Appeals noted that the issue of whether a parking variance should be treated as a use variance or an area variance depends upon the circumstances of a particular case. 
The Board, in turn, argued that Colin's position lacked legal or factual support.  Specifically, there was no need or basis to treat the application as one for a use variance, since the proposed restaurant use is a conditionally permitted use within the underlying zoning district.  Accordingly, the variance was not necessary to operate a prohibited use at the subject property, but simply addressed the fact that the property did not conform to the parking requirements that were enacted after the property was developed.  The Board's argument is consistent with  the Court of Appeals' holding in Matter of Overhill Bldg. Co. v. Delany, 28 N.Y.2d 449 (1971) ("Overhill"), in which an application for relief from off-street parking was held to have been properly treated as one for an area variance, where the proposed use was permitted under the applicable zoning requirements.  In addition, the Board noted that it properly balanced the factors set forth in Town Law § 267-b(3) governing area variances in rendering its decision to issue the requested variances.
The Supreme Court rejected Colin's argument and upheld the Board's decision granting the subject area variances.  On Colin's subsequent appeals, both the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals have held that the Board acted properly in granting the area variance relief.
In rendering its decision, the Court of Appeals revisited its holdings in Off Shore and Overhill, which both dealt with variances from the off-street parking requirements of zoning ordinances in other municipalities.  The Court noted that both cases were decided prior to the enactment of Town Law § 267, which defined "use variance" as "[a]n authorization to use land for a purpose otherwise not allowed or prohibited ..."; and an "area variance" as "[a]n authorization to use land in a manner which is not allowed by the dimensional and physical requirements of the zoning regulations." 
The Court further noted that off-street parking requirements, which differ depending on the proposed use, "regulate how the property's area may be developed, akin to minimum lot size or set-back restrictions."  As such, requests to relax off-street parking requirements shall be treated as area variances where the proposed use is permitted.  On the other hand, if the variance at issue is for a use that is prohibited within the zoning district, it shall be reviewed as a use variance.       
Accordingly, the Court of Appeals held that "[a] zoning board of appeals should evaluate requests for off-street parking variances by applying the standards for an area variance so long as the property is intended to be used for a purpose permitted in the zoning district."  As a result of the Court's decision, zoning boards of appeals throughout the State of New York shall now evaluate requests for off-street parking variances, made in connection with a permitted (or conditionally permitted) use, pursuant to the standards set forth in Town Law § 267-b(3) governing area variances.

Amato Law Group, PLLC is pleased with the Court of Appeals' decision, which conclusively verifies that municipalities must apply the statutory area variance standard for parking variance applications for permitted uses, as opposed to the highly-restrictive standard for use variances.  Accordingly, this decision permits local zoning boards located in these communities to weigh the benefit to the applicant in granting the parking variance, against the detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood or community. There are many local downtown communities on Long Island and throughout New York that were developed prior to the enactment of off-street parking restrictions.  As a result, many businesses in these communities are unable to comply with restrictive off-street parking requirements.  Further, this decision encourages the continued vitality of these downtown districts, as well as the fostering of alternative modes of transport besides automobiles to and from these areas.


Support Magistrate Diane M. Dwyer Set to Retire

Support Magistrate Diane M. Dwyer will be retiring from the Nassau County Family Court in November! The occasion will be marked with a luncheon in her honor.  Please come and celebrate Ms. Dwyer's career and wish her well in all her future endeavors.

Date: Monday, November 24, 2014

Time: 1:00 p.m. sharp

Locations: Ristorante Venere

841 Carman Avenue, Westbury, New York

Cost: $30 for Italian-Style Buffet, Cake, Beverages and Gift (Paybale in cash or by check)

Gift Only contributions will also be accepted

R.S.v.P. by November 17, 2014

Contact: Sarah or Marie (516) 493-3850



Hon. Hope Schwartz Zimmerman, J.S.C. receives The Neil T. Shayne Distinguished Service Award

On Monday, October 27, 2014 at 6:00 p.m., the Hon. Hope Schwartz Zimmerman, J.S.C., Supervising Judge of the Matrimonial Parts in Nassau County, will receive The Neil T. Shayne Distinguished Service Award at the Annual Dinner and Installation of Officers of the Jewish Lawyers Association of Nassau County.  The event will take place Temple B'nai Sholom, 100 Hempstead Avenue, Rockville Center.  

For more information or to RSVP to attend, please visit JLANASSAU.ORG or CLICK HERE

Annual Holiday Cocktail Party

The NCWBA Annual Cocktail Party was once again a great success.   Depsite the snowy weather, we had over 75 people in attendance to enjoy the evening. 

Through the generosity and support of our members, sponsors and other supporters, we raised over $3,000.00 for the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence!!

As part of the program at the party, the NCWBA and NCWBF made a special presentation in honor of Patricia Doyle, who was a long-time and beloved member of the NCWBA.  Pat's passing this year was a tremendous loss to the not only the NCWBA but the Nassau County Family Court, as well as the community as large.  

Please check back for pictures from the event.

Eighth Annual Golf Outing

On September 23, 2013, the NCWBF hosted its Eighth Annual Golf Outing Benefiting Breast Cancer Research and Awareness, at the Harbor Links Golf Course.  

100 golfers and over 250 dinner guests participated in this lively event. This year the NCWBF was proud to honor Ellen F. Kessler, Esq. of Ruskin Moscou & Faltischek, P.C. and Thomas Maligno of Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, who is the recipient of the Courage Award.


Annual Membership Cocktail Party and Salute to the Judiciary

On September 9, 2013, the NCWBA hosted its Annual Membership Cocktail Party and Salute to the Judiciary.  The event was well-attended by members of the Judiciary from Supreme, County, Family, and District Courts.  Our membership drive is well-under way but we have not yet reached our goal!  If you have not yet renewed or joined, you can do so by clicking here.  We hope to see you at the next event!

Click on the image below to see more pictures from the event!