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Brooklyn Bar Association Welcomes New President, “Court Street Lawyer” Richard Klass • Brooklyn Paper

The Brooklyn Bar Association marked the induction of a new president, Richard Klass, on June 13.

Klass was officially introduced this Monday in a ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where former president, the Hon. Barry Kamins, handed over the reins.

In his induction day speech, Klass spoke about his early life in downtown Brooklyn and the whole new meaning he worked to give to the term “Court Street Lawyer.”

“My legal career began right here – on Court Street – 30 years ago,” he told the crowd of dignitaries, fellow lawyers and elected officials. “The origins of the term ‘Court Street Lawyer’ originated when many Jewish lawyers were not hired by white shoe firms in Manhattan. The term also acquired a negative connotation, referring to ambulance chasers and fast talkers. At one point, a Brooklyn Law School professor sued another for defamation for calling him a Court Street lawyer. However, the term Court Street Solicitor has evolved into Skilled and Quick Solicitor. It also refers to a lawyer whose word was his surety and one who helps working class and middle class people.

“My office phone number is 718-COURT-ST,” he laughed. “My creative wife, Stacey, came up with the idea when I talked to her about what it meant to me to be a ‘Court Street lawyer’.”

Brooklyn Bar Association President Richard Klass with Sophia Klass at his induction.Brooklyn Bar

And with that same enthusiasm, Klass said he became a member of the borough’s famous bar – even before he became a lawyer.

“I knew that being a member of this association was essential to my legal career. I also understood the importance of being part of an organization that helps young lawyers like me navigate the legal quagmire,” he said. “I took as many continuing legal education courses as possible to gain knowledge in both practical skills and practice areas. I have also developed many good friendships over the years through my BBA membership. I really owe a lot of gratitude to this great organization for guiding me through my legal career.

Founded in 1872, the primary purpose of the Brooklyn Bar Association is to promote professional competence among lawyers and increased respect for the legal system, consistent with its mission.

The past few years have been particularly difficult for the association, Klass said, but he hopes to help propel the group forward – just as the association has helped him do for his own career.

“It will be a challenging year for our association, as we emerge into the post-COVID world – we are beginning to host in-person events again, working to increase membership as bar associations reaffirm their relevance in the legal community, and in particular, will lead the search for an executive director, as Avery Okin has retired,” he said. “I would like to thank in advance my talented and competent executive committee who have already been of great help to me and to the BBA.”

Klass also congratulated the appointments – and reappointments – of directors, also celebrated that morning at Borough Hall.

“I hope you enjoy the camaraderie of our board members and past presidents,” he said.