Civility, decency, gratitude and respect—those were among the qualities highlighted and celebrated last week when attorneys from across New Jersey came together to recognize the exemplary among them at the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law annual awards luncheon.
“We honor each and every one of the role models here today because they are servants in the highest and best sense,” said Paula Franzese, chair of the commission and Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law at Seton Hall University.
In all, 35 attorneys received Professional Lawyer of the Year Awards from a variety of bar associations across the state. In addition, the commission presented the Daniel J. O’Hern Award to Edward B. Deutsch, the Charles J. Hollenbeck Award to John M. Fietkiewicz and the inaugural Lighthouse Award to William J. Kane.
“As a group of individual and collective leaders, they get it. They understand the responsibility that comes with the immense opportunity that our chosen life affords,” Franzese said.
Justice Barry T. Albin, of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and Chief Federal District Court Judge Jose L. Linares, also both delivered introductory remarks.
Deutsch received the Daniel J. O’Hern Award for lifetime achievements and commitment to the highest ideals of the profession. He is a managing partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown.
He was introduced by Seton Hall Law School Dean Ronald J. Riccio, who lauded Deutsch as an individual and a professional. “You can’t be an outstanding professional unless you’re also a good and decent person,” he said.
In accepting the award, Deutsch paid tribute to Daniel J. O’Hern and others who taught him not just about “the practice of law, but how to practice law. That you can staunchly represent a client without compromising civility and professionalism…It is incumbent on all of us to continue to make these qualities the highest priority.”
This year’s Charles J. Hollenbeck Award, which honors a lawyer who has served the legal profession with dedication at a governmental agency or nonprofit organization, went to John M. Fietkiewicz, currently a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.
Former U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, now a distinguished visiting fellow at Seton Hall University, introduced Fietkiewicz, recalling the level of expertise and grace with which he took on his roles at the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“(John) shows us every day by his example what a great lawyer who believes in the nobility of the profession can do to make things come out right and, when they don’t, figure out how to make it better,” Fishman said. “By celebrating him, we celebrate the best in public service.”
In accepting the award, Fietkiewicz reflected that “respect for the office and respect for each other…that’s the essence of professionalism. I’ve tried my best to adhere to those principles…I encourage all attorneys in their legal fields to do the same. If we do that, the practice of law will remain first and foremost as a profession and not just as a business.”
In addition, the inaugural Lighthouse Award was presented to William J. Kane for his work with the Lawyers Assistance Program.
“I must accept it first and foremost on behalf of our staff,” Kane said, praising those who answer the hotline day in and day out for the program that provides free and confidential assistance to attorneys, judges and law students.
The commission also recognized U.S. District Court Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle, a past commission chair, for his service to the group.