NEW YORK –The Hellenic Lawyers Association (HLA) held its 28th Annual Dinner Dance Gala on November 18 at The Pierre in New York.
A lifetime achievement award was presented to the Honorable Nicholas Tsoucalas, retired Senior Judge of the United States Court of International Trade.
Nicholas Kourides, Esq. American International Group SVP and Deputy General Counsel, Head of Global Regulatory/Federal Reserve Supervision, Mergers and Acquisitions, was honored with the Distinguished Legal Service Award.
The evening began with cocktails followed by the welcoming remarks of HLA President Michael J, Hartofilis, Esq. The invocation was offered by Reverend John Vlachos, Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
The presentation of scholarships followed. Maria Barous Hartofilis, Esq. announced the presenters, scholarship sponsors and the recipients.
The promising young law students who received scholarships were: Nicole Corey – Brooklyn Law School, Dina Georgas –Fordham University School of Law, Peter Germanakos – Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, Anjelika Mantikas – St. John’s University School of Law, Agatha Mavropoulos – New York Law School, Victoria Polymenakos-McGrath- Georgetown University Law Center, Maria Stamatelos – St. John’s University School of Law, Eliana Theodorou – New York University School of Law, and Elias Tsouristakis – Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Hartofilis presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Judge Tsoucalas, who was greeted with a standing ovation from all those present. His daughter Georgia Argyrople spoke about how much the award means to her father and the family.
She noted that Tsoucalas was a founding member of the organization originally called the Greek-American Lawyers Association, and that it was a point of pride for the judge to have help found an organization that has helped the community and so many lawyers throughout the years with scholarships, mentoring, sharing best practices, and networking events. Her father loves and embodies the spirit of HLA, she said.
Tsoucalas then thanked everyone for the honor and thanked his daughter especially who he noted did not want to be a lawyer but has done well for herself, and helps him. He pointed out how pleased he was to see the room filled and so many young lawyers present at the event.
Tsoucalas also pointed out that the good he has done is due to his father who encouraged him to “help people whenever you can if you can.”
“If you see someone who needs help and you don’t help them, you don’t deserve to live.You have to help people,” he said. He noted that there were many lawyers present whom he had mentored and were doing alright, better in fact than he would, and he was happy to see them all.
His advice, “Do what I do, take cases, and do the best you can to help people.” He continued, “Everyone thinks I stopped working, but I didn’t stop. I still take cases to get the thing going, five cases since I retired, and gave them to attorneys, ‘now it’s up to you to make sure everything is done well’ and I’m here to make sure they do.”
Nicholas Kourides recipient of the Distinguished Legal Service Award spoke about his father who had also practiced law.
He noted that his father would not have been pleased that he was accepting the award, explaining that a lot of people and organizations wanted to give him awards but the elder Kourides always refused saying, “They give awards if you’re retiring or they think you’re about to die. Since he was not retiring, he was not going anywhere, and he was not going to die, he never accepted an award, though he practiced law for 70 years from 1933-2003.”
Kourides noted he still had some thirty years of practicing law before reaching his father’s milestone. Kourides then spoke about founding the Hellenic-American Cultural Foundation and its innovative programs and fully engaged board.
The Honorable Denis J. Butler then installed the new President of HLA Peter Metis, Esq. whose first act as president was to present an award to the outgoing President Michael J. Hartofilis. New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides presented the evening’s honorees with citations from the City of New York and the State of New York on behalf of New York State Senator Michael Gianaris who could not be present.
Also in attendance at the event were Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul of Greece Manos Koubarakis, the Honorable Harriet George, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, and HLA Board members including Recording Secretary George Zapantis.