A President Named Hilary

By David Brand

“Queens is a microcosm of what I wish our country would be.”

That’s how Hilary Gingold, the new president of the Queens County Bar Association feels about her beloved borough.

“We should take whatever is in the water in Queens County and have everyone else take a sip of it,” Gingold continued.

 QCBA President Hilary Gingold // Credit: Queens County Bar Association.

QCBA President Hilary Gingold // Credit: Queens County Bar Association.

Gingold’s Queens roots run deep. In the mid ‘80s, she attended St. John’s University School of Law, an experience that led directly to her involvement with the County Bar Association she now leads.

As Gingold neared graduation from the St. John’s University School of Law, she needed a job. It was 1985 and she could not afford a subscription to the expensive New York Law Journal, the premier resource for New York City attorneys looking for work.

Gingold wondered how she would manage to peruse the Law Journal classifieds when someone suggested that she visit the Queens County Bar Association. So, she said, she hopped on the E train to Jamaica and visited the QCBA law library, where she could get free access as a college student.

There, she said, QCBA Executive Director Arthur Terranova welcomed her and let her know she could use the library whenever she needed to.

A lot has changed over the past three decades. Gingold now works at the Bronx Supreme Court as a principal court attorney for New York State’s Unified Justice System, a position created by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s Excellence Initiative. And she lives in Manhattan, where she is running as a civil court judicial candidate in November.

But Queens will always remain a special place for Gingold, the current QCBA president.

“It’s like home — and a lot of lawyers will tell you that,” Gingold said. “If a member gets sick, everyone knows. If someone’s kid is getting married everyone knows. It’s like a small town.”

In addition to the community support, that camaraderie enables ample networking opportunities.

Earlier this month, Gingold told the New York Law Journal that bar membership remains “essential to the growth and development” of lawyers — even if recent law school grads no longer need the law library to hunt for jobs.

The association is located at 90-35 148th St. in Jamaica and recently celebrated its 141st anniversary with a banquet at which new officers, including Gingold, were sworn in.

Membership rates range from free for law students and lawyers admitted to the bar less than one year to $300 for attorneys with ten or more years of experience. Sustaining members pay up to $625.

Gingold belongs to several other bar associations, including the New York City and New York State Bar Associations, but said she values the Queens County Bar Association’s unique culture.

“I find it’s a warm and inviting place,” she said. “You can go to a CLE class and sit next to someone in law school or you can sit next to someone who has been practicing for 50 years.”

The QCBA also reflects the multiculturalism of Queens, the country’s most diverse urban county and a place where no ethnic or racial group accounts for more than 48.2 percent of the population, according to 2017 US Census figures.

“We have all these different cultures and backgrounds and somehow, when we walk in that building, everyone talks,” Gingold said. “We come together and celebrate our common practice and how we want to give back and that’s what makes us unique,”

Though the association remains nonpartisan, a quest for justice informs the QCBA’s activities and commitments. In September 2017, for example, the association contributed an op-ed to the Queens Tribune that clarified details and deadlines after the Trump administration announced that it would phase out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The op-ed encouraged Queens County residents to call the association if they needed a referral to an immigration attorney.

The association also sponsors the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project (QVLP), which enlists attorneys in assisting low-income individuals in housing court, family court, administrative hearings and other legal settings.

In addition to the QVLP, members staff the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO), which provides free legal advice for individuals sued for consumer debts. CLARO convenes every Friday at 1:30 inside Queens Civil Court in Jamaica.

The emphasis on justice and community support has long appealed to Gingold, who studied social work before she pursued law.

“We didn’t always have the term pro bono,” she said, adding that the QCBA has championed important community work the QCBA even before the QVLP formed in 1991. “We volunteer to give back and to do good work for others.”

Gingold’s Queens roots run deep. In the mid ‘80s, she attended St. John’s University School of Law, an experience that led directly to her involvement with the County Bar Association she now leads.

As Gingold neared graduation from the St. John’s University School of Law, she needed a job. It was 1985 and she could not afford a subscription to the expensive New York Law Journal, the premier resource for New York City attorneys looking for work.

Gingold wondered how she would manage to peruse the Law Journal classifieds when someone suggested that she visit the Queens County Bar Association. So, she said, she hopped on the E train to Jamaica and visited the QCBA law library, where she could get free access as a college student.

There, she said, QCBA Executive Director Arthur Terranova welcomed her and let her know she could use the library whenever she needed to.

A lot has changed over the past three decades. Gingold now works at the Bronx Supreme Court as a principal court attorney for New York State’s Unified Justice System, a position created by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s Excellence Initiative. And she lives in Manhattan, where she is running as a civil court judicial candidate in November.

But Queens will always remain a special place for Gingold, the current QCBA president.

“It’s like home — and a lot of lawyers will tell you that,” Gingold said. “If a member gets sick, everyone knows. If someone’s kid is getting married everyone knows. It’s like a small town.”

In addition to the community support, that camaraderie enables ample networking opportunities.

Earlier this month, Gingold told the New York Law Journal that bar membership remains “essential to the growth and development” of lawyers — even if recent law school grads no longer need the law library to hunt for jobs.

The association is located at 90-35 148th St. in Jamaica and recently celebrated its 141st anniversary with a banquet at which new officers, including Gingold, were sworn in.

Membership rates range from free for law students and lawyers admitted to the bar less than one year to $300 for attorneys with ten or more years of experience. Sustaining members pay up to $625.

Gingold belongs to several other bar associations, including the New York City and New York State Bar Associations, but said she values the Queens County Bar Association’s unique culture.

“I find it’s a warm and inviting place,” she said. “You can go to a CLE class and sit next to someone in law school or you can sit next to someone who has been practicing for 50 years.”

The QCBA also reflects the multiculturalism of Queens, the country’s most diverse urban county and a place where no ethnic or racial group accounts for more than 48.2 percent of the population, according to 2017 US Census figures.

“We have all these different cultures and backgrounds and somehow, when we walk in that building, everyone talks,” Gingold said. “We come together and celebrate our common practice and how we want to give back and that’s what makes us unique,”

Though the association remains nonpartisan, a quest for justice informs the QCBA’s activities and commitments. In September 2017, for example, the association contributed an op-ed to the Queens Tribune that clarified details and deadlines after the Trump administration announced that it would phase out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The op-ed encouraged Queens County residents to call the association if they needed a referral to an immigration attorney.

The association also sponsors the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project (QVLP), which enlists attorneys in assisting low-income individuals in housing court, family court, administrative hearings and other legal settings.

In addition to the QVLP, members staff the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO), which provides free legal advice for individuals sued for consumer debts. CLARO convenes every Friday at 1:30 inside Queens Civil Court in Jamaica.

The emphasis on justice and community support has long appealed to Gingold, who studied social work before she pursued law.

“We didn’t always have the term pro bono,” she said, adding that the QCBA has championed important community work the QCBA even before the QVLP formed in 1991. “We volunteer to give back and to do good work for others.”