Welcome to our Members in the News page! Keep track of your colleagues as they receive awards, accept appointments, and gain recognition around the globe. To submit your newsworthy item, please email Info@ArmenianBar.org.
Armenian Bar member Cortney Shegerian recently launched a new firm, Shegerian Conniff LLP. Ms. Shegerian previously worked as an attorney at Shegerian & Associates, an employment and injury law firm in Los Angeles, CA. Her focus included all aspects of legal case management, with a particular emphasis on law and motion, trial preparation, and mediation. Cortney fights for the rights of her clients, who include victims of workplace harassment, sexual harassment, those with disabilities, and those with personal injuries both inside and outside the workplace.
Member of the Armenian Bar, the Hon. Robert Philabosian is being honored at Southwestern Law School by the Alumni Resource Network as “Outstanding Mentor of the Year.” The event will include a cocktail reception and is taking place on October 3, 2018 at Southwestern Law School. Register here.
On September 10, Chicago celebrated the dedication of Commemorative Benches, handcrafted in Armenia, and gifted to the City of Chicago as a gesture of friendship. The initiative was organized by Armenian Bar Board Member at large Raffi Saraffian, Chief Administrative Officer of the Chicago Park District, the Representative of DFA/Business Armenia in Chicago with the support of the Honorary Counsul of the Republic of Armenia in Chicago, Oscar Tatosian, the former postmaster general of Armenia, Paruir Sarkissian, and the Greater Chicago Armenian community. Connors Park, at 861 N. Wabash Ave in the shadow of Water Tower Place right off Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, was enhanced with 6 Armenian beechwood benches manufactured in Armenia which resemble the classic “Yerevan” benches found throughout the city of Yerevan. Watch video.
Master litigator Garo Mardirossian—a veteran member of the Armenian Bar Association and a highly-decorated civil rights and personal injury lawyer—keeps on bending the arc of the legal universe towards justice by securing a record-setting settlement for the family of an innocent man killed mistakenly by law enforcement. “The settlement, which Mardirossian called record-setting, was announced in court papers earlier this year, but the amount of the settlement was not divulged at that time.” Read more.
ArmenBar member Aram Kouyoumdjian announced that his latest theater project, “William Saroyan: The Unpublished Plays in Performance,” will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Central Library’s elegant Taper Auditorium on September 15 at 7:00 p.m. Made possible by special permission from Stanford University Libraries, this production will feature never-before-staged scenes from unknown Saroyan plays like “The Armenian Play (or Opera),” “Home to Hayastan,” and “Ouzenk Chouzenk Hai Yenk” (Like It or Not, We’re Armenians) that explore such themes as immigrant life, the trauma of genocide, and the notion of repatriation. Check out the flyer here.
Armenian Bar Association member Nareg Kitsinian, Esq. of the Kitsinian Law Firm secured a $2.2 Million Dollar Settlement in Civil Suit. Plaintiff homeowners experienced water and fire damage from the 2017 Thomas Wildfires in Ventura County. During the first evening of the fires, the power utility was compromised and the home experienced several power surges. As a result of the power surges, an appliance caught fire in the home. This fire caused the fire sprinklers in the home to activate, resulting in extensive water damage to the home. After Plaintiffs reported the property damage claim to Defendant, their insurance company, Defendant refused to pay the benefits owed to Plaintiff pursuant to the insurance policy. Mr. Kitsinian filed a complaint for Insurance Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Breach of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and Unfair Business Practices against the insurance carrier. Mr. Kitsinian’s persistent determination to resolve this matter resulted in a settlement of over $2,200,000.
MIAMI – Governor Rick Scott of Florida announced the re-appointment of Harout Jack Samra to the Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission for a term ending July 1, 2022. Samra, of Miami, is board certified in international law and is an attorney with DLA Piper. Samra received his bachelor’s degree, his master’s degree, and his law degree from the University of Miami. Samra previously served in the position from 2014-2018. He previously served as a law clerk in the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (Transportation, Energy and Agriculture Section) and in the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Economic and Environmental Crimes Section.
SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the appointment of Sabrina D. Ashjian. Ms. Ashjian, of Fresno, has been appointed to the Cannabis Control Appeals Panel. She has been a deputy district attorney at the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office in the Consumer Fraud and Environmental Protection Unit since 2015. She was an associate at Stammer, McKnight, Barnum and Bailey LLP from 2014 to 2015, a public defender at the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office from 2010 to 2014 and an attorney at the Amin Law Group Ltd. from 2009 to 2010. Ashjian is a member of Central California Legal Services, National Women’s Political Caucus of California, California Women Lawyers, Fresno County Women Lawyers, and the Fresno County Bar Association. Ms. Ashjian earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law, a Master of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Pepperdine University Business School. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $147,778. Ms. Ashjian is a Democrat.
The New York State Bar Association welcomed ArmenBar member Souren A. Israelyan as the Co-Chair of the Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules (http://www.nysba.org/CPLR/), a 46-member committee comprised of judges of appellate and trial courts, law professors, and leaders of the bar from wide cross-section of practice areas. The committee develops original legislation that is necessary for the practice of law, monitors the current law and weighs in on the proposed amendments to New York code of civil procedure and court rules.
Judge Richard G. Kolostian, Sr. was born on December 2, 1931, the youngest of 2 sons born to Kalost Der, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, and Rose, a homemaker. He graduated from Fremont High School in 1949. He worked to support himself and his family while attending Loyola University Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount). While at Loyola, he was in Air Force ROTC. After graduating Loyola in the mid-1950’s, he served in the Air Force on active duty. Once honorably discharged, he worked his way full-time in the Personnel Department of General Telephone (now Verizon), while attending Loyola Law School at night part-time. He graduated from Loyola Law School in 1964.
His first job out of law school was with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, where he was a criminal trial attorney, criminal appellate attorney, and later legal adviser to the Los Angeles Police Commission. He left the city in 1968 to enter private practice. In the mid-1970’s, he was elected as a Commissioner in the Los Angeles Municipal Court. In 1980, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as a Judge in the Los Angeles Superior Court, making him one of the first jurists in California to go from a Municipal Court Commissioner to Superior Court Judge. After a year as a judge at Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, he transferred to Van Nuys, where he served the remainder of his career. He started in Van Nuys as a felony criminal judge, then in later years transitioned to handle civil cases. He served as Supervising Judge of the Northwest District (Van Nuys) in 1988.
He was an active supportive of organizations such as the San Fernando Valley Bar Association and the Armenian Bar Association. For many years, Judge Kolostian served as a volunteer judge for the Constitutional Rights Foundation Mock Trials program, including one year as a judge for the National Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. He was a longtime Scoutmaster for Troop 127 of the Great Western Council (now Western L.A. County Council) of the Boy Scouts of America, influencing many young men, and helping his two sons to reach Eagle Scout, the highest award in Scouting. He was involved for many years in seeking to obtain cityhood for Calabasas, and was honored to swear in the inaugural city council in 1991.
He retired in 2006, as #1 in seniority of all judges in the entire Los Angeles Superior Court. In retirement, he volunteered to sit by assignment in the probate court of the Van Nuys Superior Court. He and his wife also got to travel to various places around the world, including: China, Egypt, Russia, Central Europe, and the Panama Canal. He also got to see and enjoy the growth and development of his 4 grandchildren, who affectionately nicknamed him “Grandpa Judge.”
He passed away peacefully on June 9, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joan; his sons Richard Jr. (Michele) and Jon; and his wonderful grandchildren Peter, Ava, Zachary, and Conner.
Attorney Aram Ordubegian has joined the Armenian Bar Association’s Mentorship program as a senior advisor. Mr. Ordubegian is the West Coast Team Leader and a partner of the Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring group at Arent Fox LLP, having joined the firm in July 2009. He has been recognized by Chambers USA 2016 for Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring and Best Lawyers in America in 2013-2016 for Bankruptcy and Debtor Rights. He was also selected as one of the “20 Rising Stars Under 40” by the Armenian Bar Association. Mr. Ordubegian has consistently been recognized in the Southern California edition of Super Lawyers magazine in bankruptcy and financial restructuring since 2005. Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review named Aram its “Mover of the Week” in July 2009.
Armenian Bar Association Member Brigitte Malatjalian was selected as the Southwestern recipient for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers Law School Scholarship Program. She says, “I’m passionate about advocacy and pursuing my dream of proactive justice. I had a very untraditional path to law school, but distinctions like this genuinely make me feel as though I’m on the right path in life. I’ve grown so much in such a short period of time and I’m thankful and indebted for all of the insurmountable support that I have received.”
One of our giants left us yesterday and, while the Armenian Bar Association mourns his passing, we consider ourselves as doubly-blessed to have cherished California Supreme Court Justice Armand Arabian and, in turn, to have been cherished by him. He was one of a kind.
A founding member and staunch supporter of the Armenian Bar–literally traveling the world for 25 years to participate in and headline our programs–Justice Arabian’s contributions to humanity and to jurisprudence were so vast and exceptional that he is one of only a select few who has been conferred with the highest honor of the Armenian Bar Association, an Honorary Life Member.
Born in New York City, the son of immigrant survivors of the darkest chapter of Armenian history, Justice Arabian remained a fierce advocate for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the quest for restorative justice for the Armenian people. His autobiographical masterpiece, From Gravel to Gavel, captures the triumph of the human spirit over the unimaginable atrocities that his family endured during the Genocide.
At this time, we reflect upon Justice Arabian’s glorious legacy as a decorated United States Army paratrooper, his numerous landmark court decisions upholding the rights of women which led to the passage of reform legislation in all 50 states, his commitment to the advancement of the rule of law in Armenia, and his countless acts of benevolence with his wife, the late and beloved Nancy Arabian. Their compassion, their spirit of giving and serving, touched the lives of so many.
For our members, we are truly fortunate and grateful to have had such an inspirational leader among us. While his loss leaves a great void, we take solace in knowing that he is resting with our Lord and find peace in the teachings of our Christian faith, which he shared, that the spirit of Justice Arabian will live on eternally.
In 2017, Steve Gokberk was named an award recipient for the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce’s “Celebrate Long Island’s Young Professionals,” honoring 30 people under the age of 30. Every year the Huntington Chamber of Commerce recognizes future business leaders on Long Island. Following Steve’s receipt of the award, the Armenian Bar Association’s New York/New Jersey/Connecticut chapter honored him with a Certificate of Merit. “30 under 30” Honorees were nominated by a current member of the Chamber and endorsed by colleagues. As part of the application process, recommendation letters were required. The Armenian Bar Association, upon hearing of Steve’s nomination, enthusiastically
submitted their endorsement and assisted in his selection.
Steve is a first generation Armenian-American. He currently practices personal injury and medical malpractice law throughout New York. He is an associate at Salenger Sack Kimmel and Bavaro and has been instrumental in helping his clients receive significant monetary compensation.
Susan Kassapian is a prominent member of the ArmenBar with an extensive history of public service. Currently, she is the Deputy Commissioner of the Hearings Division at the New York City Office of Trials and Hearings (“OATH”). OATH is the City’s central independent administrative law court. OATH’s purpose is to provide due process in cases that originate from the City’s enforcement agencies in a venue that is neutral and unbiased. “…[W]e provide an emphasis on procedural justice to ensure fair and impartial hearings. We work hard in particular to ensure that pro se respondents not only receive a fair hearing but that they come away from the experience feeling that they did regardless of whether they are found in violation of the charges the city agencies have brought against them.” As of January 2018, Susan oversees the Appeals Unit of the Hearings Division and also handles Recruitment and Training of its Hearing Officers and Staff Attorneys. Prior to OATH, she worked at the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) for over 28 years, serving as the Consumer’s Advocate and Chief of Litigation, Assistant Commissioner and General Counsel. “My favorite part of being Deputy Commissioner at OATH is recruiting new hearing officers….Last year I had the pleasure of hiring Ruben Stepanian, who emigrated from Yerevan Armenia. ”
ArmenBar member, Kristine Manoukian, joined the prestigious law
firm Clifford Chance in July 2016 and emerged as a partner in May
2017. Clifford Chance is a world wide law firm, its practice spans
across five continents. Kristine moved to America from Yerevan
when she was 14 years old. A Maryland School of Law graduate,
she now specializes in financial restructuring and bankruptcy that
involve major corporate institutions with international prowess. One of Kristine’s most memorable projects involved the representation of a group of bondholders and new money lenders, valuing over a billion dollars, in connection with the restructuring of
Abengoa S.A. (a Spanish multinational corporation in the field of global engineering). This project was a demonstration of the global nature of Clifford Chance and her practice. On a daily basis, Kris-
tine was working with Clifford Chance attorneys in Spain and Luxembourg to coordinate this massive restructure project. This assignment required Kristine to demonstrate legal skill of the highest caliber, diligence and creativity. The ArmenBar looks forward to seeing Kristine’s continued impact on international law and business.
President Donald Trump has nominated Armenian Bar Member Patrick Hovakimian to serve as a Member of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the Justice Department, for the remainder of a three-year term.
As an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, he investigates and prosecutes public corruption and white-collar crime. Previously, he practiced law with the international law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP, and clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. He holds a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School, where he studied as a Truman Scholar and was a member of the Stanford Law Review; a Master of Philosophy from Oxford, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar; and a Bachelor of Arts, conferred summa cum laude, from Occidental College. Mayor Kevin Faulconer appointed him to the Human Relations Commission in 2016.
LegacyShield, a cloud-based legacy planning platform, is proud to announce that the Florida Venture Forum (FVF) has invited founders Michael Babikian and Dan Pierson to present at its 26th annual conference Jan. 20-31 in Fort Lauderdale. Babikian and Pierson are among only 21 companies to present out of more than 100 applicants.
Mr. Babikian previously served as the head of the Armenian Bar Association’s CLE committee.
A New York lawyer who proposed adding cars to subway trains is among 19 finalists in a Metropolitan Transportation Authority “genius challenge” that will award $1 million for the best ideas to fix the city’s subway system.
Lawyer Craig Avedisian, a solo practitioner, is one of two individuals named last month as semifinalists; the others are mostly large companies, the New York Times reports.
Judge Aram Serverian passed away peacefully at home from renal failure. Aram was born June 5th, 1932 in Woodside, Long Island to Garabed and Zaroohi Serverian. While working as a court reporter, Aram attended San Francisco Law School at night. After passing the bar examination, he worked in private practice as well as with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. He was appointed juvenile court commissioner in 1976, a post he held until he was appointed to the bench in 1986.
Aram was an excellent athlete and played semi-pro hockey with the Sands Point Tigers and Jamaica Hawks of Long Island. Aram was predeceased in death by his sister, Irene. He leaves his wife of sixty years, Hasma, and three children, Michael Serverian, Linda Krikorian and Lisa Serverian as well as seven grandchildren.
Judge Jacob Adajian, age 81, died on Saturday, January 27, 2018, at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Jacob was born on June 3rd, 1936 in Paterson, New Jersey to Samuel and Sarah (Phillian) Adajian and was the second eldest of five children. When he was 14 years old, Jacob’s family resettled in California. He enlisted as a paratrooper in the Army, serving from 1955 to 1958. Though he had to drop out of high school at age 17 to help support his family, Jacob later attended Southwestern Law School and passed the California Bar exam in 1969.
From there he enjoyed a long and successful law career, starting as a City Attorney, and eventually becoming a partner in the law firm, Ash, Vidas, and Adajian. In 1995, Jacob was appointed as a Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge by then Governor Pete Wilson, and worked many years on the bench, both in Los Angeles and Long Beach, and formally retired as a Superior Court Judge in 2006. After retirement, Jacob worked on assignment as needed in Downey, Norwalk, and Long Beach courthouses and continued to be a valued mentor to many attorneys.
Jacob is survived by his two daughters, Shelley and Joelle Adajian, his grandchildren, Aidan and Layna Mannella, his step-children Leo and Kimberly Clouser, from his marriage to Kenia Casarreal, who passed away in 2010, his step-grandson Lars, and his older sister Aurora Lehmann.
Tigran Palyan of Palyan Law APC was appointed to serve as the Legislative Liaison for the executive committee of the California State Bar Family Law Section. Mr. Palyan is responsible for representing the Los Angeles county legislative committee at various meetings throughout the year regarding legislation which affects family law. Mr. Palyan, who practices exclusively family law, sits on the executive committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and is also an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School.
ArmenBar member Marina Sampson joined the Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt Firm. Her practice will focus on civil litigation and labor and employment law.
Prior to joining the firm, Samson was an attorney with Castellón & Funderburk LLP. She previously served as a law clerk at the United States Attorney’s Office in its Criminal Division, and was a judicial extern for the Honorable André Birotte, United States District Court. She earned her J.D. from Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, where she also served as an admissions assistant. She is co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Intern Opportunity Program and a member of the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Italian American Lawyers Association. She was also a founding member of the Federal Bar Association’s Southwestern Chapter.
Attorney Ani Akopyan joins Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. Ms. Akopyan has extensive experience in all stages of labor and employment litigation. She has achieved favorable results in a broad spectrum of employment matters including wrongful termination claims, harassment claims, discrimination claims, retaliation claims, whistleblower claims, and wage & hour claims. She also has substantial professional liability defense experience and business litigation experience, having litigated matters involving contract disputes, trade secret disputes, and business torts.
Ms. Akopyan was named to the list of Top 50 Up-and-Coming Women Attorneys in Southern California as well as to the California Rising Stars list as one of the top up-and-coming attorneys in California for 2007-2018. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in California receive this honor. Has also been recognized as a Top Attorney by Pasadena Magazine for 2012-2015.
ArmenBar board member Ara Babaian has partnered with Justin Karczag (of Karczag & Associates PC) to form a new firm called Encore Law Group LLP. Drawing on his big-firm expertise, Ara had formed Encore Law Group PC in 2001 to provide expert legal services to both pre-revenue startups and mature companies in the areas of Business and Intellectual Property Law. Prior to that, Ara was a partner at the Beverly Hills law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP. With this new firm, he combines Encore’s transactional practice with the civil litigation practice headed by Justin Karczag who has extensive experience, and an impressive track record, in all areas of litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in successful seven- and eight-figure outcomes, from pre-litigation resolution, to multi-month jury trials. The new law firm is headquartered in downtown Los Angeles in an office condo purchased by the principals of the firm in 2017. The firm also has a reach in Hawaii, Nevada and Texas, representing both local clients as well as out-of-state clients doing business in those states. Encore Law Group LLP represents a wide variety of clients in a number of industries, including Technology, Entertainment & Media, Real Estate, Health Care, Manufacturing & Distribution, Restaurant, Retail and Professional Services. For more information, visit the firm’s website at www.encorelaw.com.