Hilary Gingold, courtesy photo

Hilary Gingold is the principal attorney for the state’s Unified Court System. She works in high needs courts throughout the five boroughs as part of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s Excellence Initiative. She took over as president of the Queens County Bar Association on June 1.

Q:  What has prepared you for the position?

A:  I have been an active member of the Queens County Bar for many years. I have served as a board member, as well as Secretary, Vice-President, and President-Elect for the Executive Board. Each of these roles has provided me with the knowledge and the reference points needed to lead the Association. Moreover, I have always participated in the many varied programs offered by our Association. This past year I have also served as President of the Network of Bar Leaders, an association representing almost 50 different affinity bar and county associations as well as the New York State Bar. Working with so many organizations, each with their own concerns, has afforded me the unique opportunity to develop strong leadership skills in coordinating events and in co-sponsoring Continuing Legal Education programs.

Q: With law firms cutting expenses, how will you demonstrate that membership in the Queens County Bar Association is essential? How will you get members who are not active to take advantage of their membership?

A: Bar Membership is essential to the growth and development of our members’ practice areas. Networking with new members, connecting with existing members is the lifeblood of any bar association. The relationships we forge as a result of our activities has benefited both our most senior members as well as our newer members. We have been actively engaging our newer members with social events. This past year we have offered a series of nuts and bolts courses during lunch hours, allowing our members to easily obtain necessary CLE credits. We will continue to make concerted efforts to reach out to individual members; to hear their concerns and most importantly, address those issues as they arise.

Q: What is your plan for attracting lawyers in specialized fields to the association? 

A: It is essential to our continued growth that we reach out to attorneys in specialized fields by offering them the opportunity to come and educate our membership about those areas and in return, develop a strong referral system. The backbone of bar membership is the ability to network and with that, to refer and develop strong relationships that will in turn result in greater profitability for our membership. The direct correlation between referrals and income generation is one of the best resources we can offer our members.

Q: What will be your priorities as Bar Association president? Name ways in which you want to take the Bar Association in new directions. 

A: My priority this year is to engage our affiliated bar associations within the county, working together to co-sponsor events not limited to Continuing Legal Education programming. We have many single practitioners and small firms that look forward to meeting one another in an environment that lends itself to developing professional and social friendships. We have made some in-roads in expanding our presence on social media. My goal is to enhance that presence, and proudly  highlight the efforts of our individual members as they engage in bar activities, whether that be through pro bono efforts, teaching Continuing Legal Education programs, or just participating in any one of the many events we hold each year.

Q: In order to make room for new priorities, it’s often necessary to decide what an organization no longer wants to do. What committees, task forces or events should the Queens County Bar Association disband?

A: We are working on developing relevant programs that will increase our member engagement. At this time our attention is not on disbanding any committees, but rather, on sharpening that focus to work on helping our members generate more income and develop stronger ties with their fellow colleagues.

Q: At the end of your term, how will you judge if it has been a success?

A: I would like to see the next generation of members step up and take an active role through committee participation, helping to run an event and just by showing up. The goal of any bar association is to ensure the continuation of its very existence through the eyes of the next generation. I hope to see many new faces that will become good friends of the Queens County Bar this year. If our members are invigorated to get involved, to voice their concerns, and feel that they have been heard, then that would be a success for the Association.

@|Susan DeSantis can be reached at sdesantis@alm.com. Twitter: @sndesantis