The Kings County Criminal Bar Association (KCCBA) held its annual election to induct Michael Farkas as its new president Thursday night. The meeting, which also featured a program for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, took place at the Brooklyn Bar Association headquarters at 123 Remsen St.
Michael Farkas brings a second generation of leadership to the Brooklyn Bar, being the son of a former KCCBA President George Farkas. In addition, the young Farkas brought something unique to KCCBA: close personal and professional connections to at least 80 percent of the packed room. More than mentored by his father from a young age, Michael knew he wanted to become a lawyer, so he attended meetings and dinners when his father was a member and officer of KCCBA. He also had been mentored by most of the senior lawyers and judges in the room during his early professional life. He was perhaps the only person in the room, other than Andrew Fisher, who could accurately be called “a child of KCCBA.”
Professionally, Michael Farkas has served as a Wall Street in-house litigator and a homicide prosecutor with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, where he was an ADA from 1995 to 2003. He also served as senior vice president and associate general counsel with Smith Barney’s litigation division. Since 1995, he has served with the U.S. Army Reserve, where he now holds the rank of lieutenant colonel. He graduated from the University at Albany and Brooklyn Law School.
Before introducing Farkas as the new president, Jay Schwitzman expressed his gratitude toward the association and told everyone how much it meant for him to be president. He said working with the young attorneys was the more rewarding aspect.
“It really is an honor being president and speaking to important people about issues that affect the criminal justice system in Kings County, New York City and even the state,” Schwitzman said. “For those reasons I felt a lot of gratification.”
With enthusiasm and gratitude, Schwitzman introduced Farkas and noted that his father, George, a former KCCBA president, had influenced Michael to join KCCBA as a teenager even before he started law school. As a member of the association for his entire adult life, Schwitzman noted, Michael is more than ready to lead the organization to new levels of growth and accomplishment.
“It’s important to me that you all know how much I appreciate this honor and what it really means to me,” Farkas said. “In a sense, I literally grew up in this room.”
Farkas discussed the many people in the room who played a role in shaping his career and life. He especially talked about the role his father played.
“There really wasn’t a time that I can remember where I didn’t think that I wanted to be an attorney,” Farkas said. “The reason for that is because of the example that he set. Having someone not only be a father, but a professional mentor, a personal mentor and even going above that and becoming a best friend.”
Once in charge, Farkas quickly got down to business. He said that he wanted to continue the great work that Jay Schwitzman had done as president in expanding the organization.
“Not only was Jay dedicated — right down to the job of schlepping when he should have made someone else do it , to make sure a meeting had everything necessary — but he made this organization grow in ways it had never done before … and he was always there for us … for you and me.”
Farkas added: “Look around this crowded room. This organization has expanded to an extent never before seen. It has become more inclusive than anyone ever dreamed.”
“Of course, I’m going to prioritize the great work that Jay did before me,” Farkas continued. To show proof his goal of expanding the KCCBA, Farkas welcomed at the meeting the leadership of the Brooklyn criminal courts, the Brooklyn D.A.’s Office, the two indigent defense providers (the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Defenders Services), the Department of Probation, Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC), mitigation specialists from The Osborne Association, and the Fortune Society.
“Expanding the organization, the health of the organization is paramount and it is my top priority,” said Farkas. “My next goal is to see closer working relationships between all players, all stakeholders and all aspects of the criminal justice system in this county.”