ITALIAN AMERICAN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
2021 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
It is a true honor to be sworn in and serve as President of this group for 2021. Back in 2007, when one of IALA past scholarship recipients and my good friend, Jennifer Grady, invited me to join her for dinner at one of the famous Casa Italiana nights in downtown LA, I could not have imagined this day.
IALA was founded in 1977, though officially incorporated a year later. What brought our founders together in the first place is what continues to bring us together: the celebration of our common Italian American heritage. Italian Americans in the US faced race and employment discrimination before and after WWII. Our founders’ vision was to join efforts and terminate with the prejudice against Italian Americans, assisting Italian American lawyers in the development of their legal career and with the hope to get more Italian American lawyers appointed to the bench and the judiciary.
Before Covid19, our group has been well-known for decades in the legal community of Los Angeles for hosting wonderful monthly dinners at Casa Italiana, having incredible speakers, organizing interesting MCLE programs, and of course most importantly delicious mostaccioli. Some of our IALA signature monthly events include our GARLIC and GAELIC night with the Irish-American Bar Association, a fantastic annual New York Italian street fair, a joint event with many other bar associations in Los Angeles for MARCO POLO NIGHT, and our pride, the signature California Supreme Court Night.
Our immediate past President, encouraged and supported by other leaders in our group, was able to turn an unfortunate circumstance such as Covid19 into a positive! Taking advantage of the fact that we are all “staying at home”, last year our group coordinated several virtual meetings with high profile guest speakers outside the Los Angeles area, even outside California, such as US Supreme Court Justice Alito or NIAF Director Dr. Fauci, to name a few.
Covid19 has certainly presented many challenges to bar association leaders across the world but it has also created the opportunity to “virtually” bring many of us together. When I took my oath last month, I promised to use my leadership role in this group to do my very best to keep us together and engaged. In 2021, our plan is to continue to get together on Zoom (until we can meet in person again) to celebrate what brought our founders and us together in the first place, OUR COMMON ITALIAN AMERICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE. We started this year with our virtual installation by learning about Italian brands, Italy’s appellation of origins, the history of pasta, had fun with famous Italian hand gestures. I am excited to share that we are co-sponsoring with the Italian American Bar Association of Northern California (IABA) a Diversity and Inclusion Award Night honoring Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Eric Taylor and San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi. Part of this program will include learning about the architecture of iconic buildings and streets in LA by Italian Americans from Italian Architect Elena Manferdini.
In the coming months, we are planning an Italian American Entertainment Night where we will hear from Italian Americans in the Entertainment World and we will play the famous La Tombola game. We also want to coordinate a panel on how it was to grow up Italian in America, and invite all the leaders and members of other Italian American lawyers’ groups across the United States to join us. We have many exciting plans ahead of us and I truly hope that you can join us.
Of course, my hope is that we get together in person soon, but until then, that we will continue to gather and celebrate our common Italian American heritage safely from the comfort of our homes.
President, Italian American Lawyers Association