For nearly three decades now, the Armenian Bar Association has strived to fulfill the mission that was set for this organization by its founder, Raffi Hovannisian.
Our committees, through the outstanding leadership of their chairpersons, have worked tirelessly, united in our common cause to defend the rights of the Armenian people, help develop a rule of law society for Armenia, assist the Republic of Artsakh to achieve statehood, foster professional development of our members and guide our students to attain their goal of entering the ranks of the legal profession.
All of these objectives seamlessly came together during the weekend of June 9-10, 2017, when our Association met for its 28th Annual Meeting in the beauty that is the city of Huntington Beach, California. (Click here to see a summary record of all the good things that happened that weekend.)
Following on the heels of our successful Annual Meeting, I look forward with great anticipation to the coming year for our organization. I welcome and invite you to participate as the Armenian Bar Association sets new milestones in the 2017-2018 year. Our year is starting off with a roaring start when, on July 19, we will be simultaneously hosting events on both coasts: the Inaugural Launch of our NY/NJ/CT chapter committee with its first ever event in New Jersey at the Pilsener Haus and Biergarten located in Hoboken, and on the west coast our first ever joint event with the Italian American Lawyers Association, the Glendale, Pasadena and San Fernando Bar Associations at the always-fun and iconic Casa Italiana in Los Angeles.
Last year, our Mentorship Program, led by the tremendous will and work of Lucy Varpetian, Armen Hovannisian, and Aleksan Giragosian, without question was the greatest source of new members and served as an important bridge between our organization and students and new lawyers. This year, Aleksan has taken over the helm of the Mentorship Program and this one of our organization’s rising stars is already hard at work matching our students with their volunteer mentors.
Our Armenian Rights Watch Committee, through the leadership of our dynamic duo of Garo Ghazarian and Karnig Kerkonian, have enabled us to rocket to international prominence as one of the leading – and sometimes only – voice on matters concerning the defense of Armenian rights. They are battle-tested warriors of the Armenian Cause and they are being recognized as such globally for their work on issues of the rights of the disabled, the rights of women, political prisoners, and so much more.
Three years ago, we established the Armenian Genocide Reparations Committee, with the purpose of attaining restorative justice for the horrific wrongs committed against our ancestors. At its core, the committee is driven by the motivation that restitution for the great national dispossession of the Armenian people may be realized in courts of justice. The AGRC is led by Armen K. Hovannisian, who notes that preparations are underway for the commencement of relevant legal actions. It is anticipated that the first of these claims will be brought in the 2017-2018 term.
This year, we also look forward to holding a series of events in Chicago, Los Angeles and the East Coast, all designed to support the Armenian Bar Association’s scholarship programs and to recognize a legal educator of the year. Through these events, I am confident that we will achieve the goal of making the Vicken I. Simonian Memorial Legal Scholarship an endowment which will guarantee in perpetuity that each year worthy Armenian students will be assisted with the tremendous cost of a legal education.
2017-2018 will also see the return of our most popular event, the Southern California Judge’s Night Dinner. Presently, it is being planned for early November, 2017. We are also planning to see the return of our successful 20 Under 40 event after the New Year.
At our Annual Meeting, our three-term former Chairwoman, Professor Ann Lousin, called on us to bring back the Newsletter. This is the first edition of our revamped Newsletter and we hope you will find that it lives up to the high standards that our Chairman Emeritus, Vicken Simonian, had set. I want to thank our veteran Editor, Armen K. Hovannisian, and all-dash purpose Board Member, Lucy Varpetian, for designing and publishing the new Newsletter. We are introducing an online, easy-to-use format that we hope you will enjoy on a regular basis.
In closing, I want to thank my colleagues on the Board of Governors who bestowed upon me a professional and personal highlight by electing me to a second term as Chairman of the Board of Governors. I look forward to working with my fellow board members shoulder-to-shoulder as we continue our efforts to achieve the mission of the Armenian Bar Association. I know that each of them joins me in extending a welcome invitation to you to partake in the good work of our organization and attend our events throughout the year.