At the end of the 20th century, Genocide reparations efforts finally broke through the thick haze of post-traumatic desolation because, until then, the survivors and their children had knuckled down to reconstitute their families, recreate their communities, replenish their confidence, and resurrect their faith in humanity. It took a generation or two for them to get back on their feet and to stand strong again and, once upright, they fastened on the moral imperative of Genocide recognition. And now it is the time, none too late, to turn decidedly towards and work in earnest for Genocide reparations which are the inalienable rights of the injured parties and their heirs. Criminal and civil claims, which follow naturally from but are not dependent on recognition, will be pursued to reverse or at least compensate for the harm, albeit incompletely, because our homeland and its people can never truly be made whole again. The Armenian Bar’s Genocide Reparations Committee will undertake and implement strategic, legal initiatives to account for the loss of indigenous lives, property, rights, and patrimony.
Armen K. Hovannisian
The Armenian Rights Watch Committee monitors and takes action on issues affecting Armenians on the local, national and international levels. Members meet with international human rights organizations, raise media awareness of the Armenian Genocide and related issues, and join community task forces to battle discrimination and hate crimes against minorities.
Garo B. Ghazarian
In 2015, the Armenian Bar Association’s Board of Governors amended its mission statement and formally declared that as an organization the Armenian Bar Association recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Artsakh and has as a primary organizational purpose to endeavor to bring about recognition of Artsakh’s statehood under international law and to seek to guarantee the territorial integrity and the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination.
With the guidance and leadership of the Honorable Ruben Melikyan, Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender and Ombudsman and an Armenian Bar member, the Association has already implemented and funded two programs in Artsakh: the first is a pro bono legal clinic in Stepankert in collaboration with Artsakh State University. The clinic was opened in October, 2017 and has provided legal services free of charge to Artsakh residents who might not otherwise have access to justice, on such issues as navigating administrative regulations, licensing, and general civil and criminal matters. The second program is the creation of an 8 week internship program at the office of the Artsakh Human Rights Defender, where students enrolled in U.S. law schools will learn and assist Mr. Melikyan and the Human Rights Defender’s office with legal research, evidence gathering and legal document preparation.
At its 29th Annual Meeting held in Shushi, Republic of Artsakh, the Armenian Bar Association’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the establishment of the Artsakh Law Initiative Committee (ALIC meaning “wave” in Armenian). In addition to providing oversight to the programs set forth above, the Committee will provide coaching and monetary assistance to the moot court team from Artsakh State University, which will participate in a mock trial competition in Nuremberg, Germany.
ALIC is taking affirmative steps to create a judicial exchange program, whereby Artsakh Supreme Court Justices will be brought to the United States to meet their colleagues in the Supreme, appellate and trial courts of the United States.
ALIC will serve in a legal advisory capacity on numerous issues of international law to Artsakh’s Foreign Minister.
Los Angeles, CA
The Continuing Legal Education Committee sponsors legal seminars for the Association’s members in an effort to promote professional growth.
The purpose of the Resource Development/Fundraising Committee is to establish a structure for effective fundraising for the organization, evaluating the organization’s future financial needs and goals; creating a long-range fundraising plan and updating it yearly; instituting a public-relations program; reporting to foundations or large donors on specific projects; and visiting major donors.
Gerard V. Kassabian
Beverly Hills, CA
Tina B. Odjaghian
Woodland Hills, CA
The Grants Committee seeks and applies for governmental and privately endowed grants to fund its activities, such as the rule of law projects in Armenia, domestic legal assistance programs and exchange programs. The Scholarship Committee raises funds to support meritorious students of Armenian descent attending, or accepted for admission to, an approved law school in the United States, Armenia or elsewhere.
East Providence, RI
The Membership Development Committee reaches out to potential members by keeping the multitude of individuals joining the legal profession informed of the Association’s agenda. The committee also implements programs and activities to channel the interests of existing members.
Harry H. Dikranian
Vanna T. Kitsinian
Scott A. Ohnegian
The Association’s Newsletter Committee publishes the Newsletter, which apprises members of the Association’s activities and informs them of events in the Armenian world community which warrant the Association’s attention. It also features articles of human interest. The Newsletter is published on a quarterly basis.
Armen K. Hovannisian
The principal responsibility of the Nominations Committee is to determine the nominees for election to the Board of Governors of the Armenian Bar Association. The Board is composed of 17 members, divided into three classes of six, six and five members, each member serving a three-year term. The activities and affairs of the Association are managed by or under the direction of the Board of Governors.
The Executive Committee, appointed by the Board, manages day-today affairs. In recent years, as the status of the Armenian Bar Association has grown, the desirability of holding a Board position has grown commensurately. Accordingly, there is no shortage of qualified candidates from whom the Nominations Committee must choose.
Throughout the year, the co-chairs of the Committee communicate with other Armenian Bar members in their quest to obtain valuable nominee information. Prior to any final determination as to a candidate, the co-chairs will interview the possible nominee.
The Committee considers a number of criteria in making its determinations. One critical factor is the past contributions to the Armenian Bar made by the candidate, as well as anticipated future contributions. Related are the nominee’s accomplishments outside of the Armenian Bar.
Balance is also sought in terms of geography and gender. With respect to geography, Board membership currently covers the west coast, east coast, middle America and Canada. Board members are also encouraged to donate financially to the Armenian Bar. The Nominations Committee is further charged with balancing the re-nomination of productive incumbents with the desirability of bringing on new members with fresh ideas.
After the Nominations Committee determines a suggested slate, it is generally distributed to the membership before the Annual Meeting. While there is desirability for the number of persons on the slate to be equal to the number of positions open, it is possible that there will be more nominees than openings. The Bylaws also allow for nominations from the Annual Meeting floor and such nominations have been made over the last several years. At the Annual Meeting, all nominees are provided an opportunity to make a statement of intent and interest to the membership. Thereafter a membership vote is held, and those persons receiving the most votes, up to the number of vacancies, are elected.
The goal of the Nominations Committee is to work all year to help put together a Board of Governors that will continue to allow the organization to achieve the highest levels of contribution to the community.
Armen K. Hovannisian
Los Angeles, CA
Elizabeth Mirza Al-Dajani
Gary T. Moomjian
The Pro Bono Committee of the Armenian Bar Association is a standing committee which facilitates access to basic legal services for those in need and apprises Armenian immigrants of their rights and responsibilities. The committee maintains close working relationships with prominent legal and social service agencies and state bar associations. The mission of the Committee is to ensure access to justice through the expansion and enhancement of the delivery of legal and other law-related services to the underserved through volunteer efforts of legal professionals nationwide. The Committee fosters the development of pro bono programs and activities by law firms, law schools, and other community service organization.
In the past, the Committee has published Know-Your-Rights pamphlets in Armenian for dissemination to the Armenian Community. It has also co-sponsored legal clinics with the Armenian National Committee of Glendale and Neighborhood Legal Services of LA County, where community members were given the opportunity to consult with attorneys regarding a wide range of legal issues.
These clinics have provided community members an opportunity to receive guidance from attorneys in various areas of law including immigration, landlord/tenant, civil, small claims, family law, criminal matters, trusts, will and estates. After the intake process is completed, individuals are assigned to meet with and discuss their issue with an attorney on a one on one basis. The attorneys offer information and assistance only.
Van Nuys, CA
The Social Media Committee ensures that the Armenian Bar Association has a presence on major and contemporary social media platforms. Recognizing the growing, global importance of communication through social media sources, the SMC produces and promotes internet-based material and resources to showcase the many worthwhile activities of the Armenian Bar Association. The committee chairpersons also see as an important feature of the committee’s mission that members are provided with user-friendly forums where they can connect professionally and express their opinions on matters of interest to the legal profession and the Armenian community.
The Armenian Bar’s social media sites include the organization’s website (www.armenianbar.com) and popular social media platforms. On those many virtual displays depicting our plans and activities, one may find the organization’s statements of position on matters affecting the Armenian Nation, as well as many points of relevant reference, announcements about and invitations to upcoming events, photo galleries, and news items which concern the membership.
The SMC also supervises the distribution of press releases to media outlets world-wide and email communications to the membership through email marketing platforms with an opt-out feature to ensure that communications are always welcome. With over 3,000 likes on our Facebook page and more every day along with our expanding presence on other popular social media platforms, we are proud that our efforts to provide modes and mechanisms of expression to our members through such channels have been greeted with wide approval. We will continue to strive to provide our members with the benefit of the best and latest sources of social media that the internet has to offer.
Gerard V. Kassabian
Beverly Hills, CA
The Student Relations Committee cultivates and helps advance the careers of law students by offering periodic seminars and lectures, and by involving law students in the Association and its activities.
Mentorship Program Subcommittee Chair:
Los Angeles, CA
The Young Lawyers Committee is comprised of representatives from across the country and their efforts are aimed at encouraging young lawyers and students to join the association and become active and engaged in its various committees, groups and initiatives and to put together community programs, seminars and workshops.
New York, NY