Gala Honors Royal Bank of Canada’s Kevin Genirs, and the Honorable Fern Fisher

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NYLAG held its Gala benefit on May 24th at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The evening celebrated the agency’s broad array of civil legal services, but put the focus on its role in helping New York families remain safe and secure in their homes.

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L to R: NYLAG Board of Directors Chair Abby Milstein, Emcee Dan Abrams, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts Fern Fisher, President & Attorney-in-Charge of NYLAG Beth Goldman, and U.S. General Counsel at Royal Bank of Canada Kevin Genirs.

Kevin Genirs, U.S. General Counsel of the Royal Bank of Canada and the Honorable Fern A. Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts and Director of the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program were honored. The event also saluted the collective contributions of the people and organizations that make it possible for NYLAG to bring justice and hope to New Yorkers in need.

More than thirty law firms participated as event sponsors. The private bar is a vital NYLAG partner: pro bono service enables the agency to significantly extend its capabilities and deliver the highest quality civil legal assistance to the greatest number of people in need. In the past year, law firms provided services to NYLAG clients valued at over $18 million.

The evening celebrated the agency’s broad array of civil legal services, but put the focus on its role in helping New York families remain safe and secure in their homes.

20160524_NYLAG-544“Each year, thousands of New Yorkers struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Poverty and unstable housing, unfortunately, go hand in hand,” said NYLAG Board Chair Abby Milstein, a founding partner of Constantine Cannon. “Tonight we are highlighting the work of multiple NYLAG staff units – supported by the pro bono community, elected officials, and community partners – who every day prevent homelessness, provide economic security for New York families, and promote stability in our communities.” Watch the full speech here.

Dan Abrams, CEO and Founder of Abrams Media and the Chief Legal Affairs Anchor for ABC News, served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

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Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (far right) was featured in this year’s video.

A highlight of the evening was the premiere of a video about how NYLAG was able to help three clients, each of them facing a housing crisis: a single mother in the Bronx threatened with eviction; a homebound Korean War veteran in Chelsea who almost lost his apartment when his health deteriorated, and an immigrant family from Long Island defrauded by a foreclosure rescue scam. View the video here.

Kevin Genirs was presented with the 2016 Corporate Leadership Award for his career achievements as an attorney, and his passion and commitment to justice. Mr. Genirs joined the Royal Bank of Canada in 2015 from Barclays Capital where he was Co-General Counsel of the Americas and senior counsel to Investment Banking globally. Previously he was with Lehman Brothers and the law firm Fried, Frank in New York and London. Mr. Genirs is on the board of the Shield Institute, which provides educational and rehabilitative services to children and adults with emotional and physical disabilities.

20160524_NYLAG-1517“Kevin Genirs is an attorney who exudes integrity, substance and strength. I had the pleasure of working with him for a number of years. He was the quiet guy in the room, but when he spoke, Kevin was the person people listened to,” said NYLAG Board member Joseph Polizzotto in presenting the award to Mr. Genirs. “As the General Counsel at the Royal Bank of Canada, Kevin is part of a company committed to ‘helping clients thrive and communities prosper’– a statement of purpose that is remarkably compatible with NYLAG’s own.” Watch the full speech here.

Judge Fisher received NYLAG’s 2016 Visionary of Justice Award in recognition of her relentless pursuit of justice for every New Yorker who passes through New York City’s courts. As an Administrative Judge, she has used her power and authority to reform and simplify the City’s court system for the benefit of attorneys, litigants and judges alike. As Director of the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program, Judge Fisher has been instrumental in developing and implementing practical and innovative programs that have helped to balance the scales of justice.

20160524_NYLAG-657“Since Judge Fisher took the helm of the busiest court system in New York State, there has been a steady increase in services offered to self-represented litigants, who are the majority of the court’s users,” said Joseph S. Allerhand, NYLAG board member and a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “Thanks to her vision, new ideas — like a cadre of court “navigators,” increased access to in-court translators, consumer know-your-rights campaigns, a bi-lingual web site, and collaborations with social services and community groups — are making a day in New York City court more transparent and more just for low-income people.” Watch the full speech here.

20160524_NYLAG-104The 2016 Gala Co-Chairs were David Onorato of the Royal Bank of Canada, James McQuade of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and NYLAG Board members James Brandt of Latham Watkins and Mr. Polizzotto.

The floral arrangements from the evening were donated to NYC Health + Hospitals’ Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility.

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