May 15, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kate Coscarelli
NEW BRUNSWICK - Kimberly A. Yonta was sworn in Thursday night as president of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) for the 2020-2021 term. She took the oath of office from her East Brunswick home during the NJSBA’s first Virtual Annual Meeting, and the ceremony could be viewed live online.
The most anticipated event on the New Jersey legal education and social calendar moved online in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures.
“This is neither the speech I thought I would be giving nor the place or manner in which I thought I’d be delivering it. But we are living in unusual, historic and challenging times. The pandemic and economic crisis are testing our strength, resolve and resilience as individuals, as a society and as a profession, in ways we never imagined,” Yonta said.
“You are not alone. The New Jersey State Bar Association is the guiding force that advocates for and unites the legal community during this turbulent time. You can look to the Association as a beacon that will help us navigate these rocky waters and see us safely to shore,” she said.
Yonta said she would focus the Association’s efforts on promoting access to the justice system, which includes matching attorneys with members of the public who qualify for reduced-fee legal services through Legal Edge, the NJSBA’s new platform under development, and by protecting the public by advocating against non-lawyers providing legal services. Yonta said she would also place a renewed focus on the Young Lawyers Division, creating ways to connect young lawyers with mentors and firms and by developing a new series, with county bar associations, to teach them trial skills; and bring attention to the well-being needs of all attorneys.
A New Brunswick solo practitioner who concentrates on criminal trial advocacy and municipal court matters, she has extensive experience with the Association.
In addition to Yonta’s installation, other members of the Executive Committee moved up the succession ladder. They were also sworn in remotely by New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner. Each officer holds the position for one year.
• Domenick Carmagnola became president-elect. He is a labor and employment law attorney in Morristown.
• Jeralyn L. Lawrence became first vice president. She is a certified matrimonial law attorney in Watchung.
• Timothy McGoughran became second vice president. He is a family law attorney in Ocean Township.
• William H. Mergner Jr. became treasurer. He practices civil litigation in Cedar Knolls.
• Christine A. Amalfe became secretary. She is a labor and employment law attorney in Newark.
• Evelyn Padin began a term as immediate past president of the Association.
Under Padin’s leadership, the Association ardently worked to serve and protect New Jersey’s legal profession, especially during the pandemic, when it testified on a bill (which became law) that allows attorneys to remotely notarize documents.
“We have been a fierce advocate for New Jersey attorneys — whether they were State Bar Association members or not — to enable them to continue working during this pandemic,” Padin said. In her speech, she acknowledged New Jersey residents and Association members who died from complications related to COVID-19.
During Padin’s term, the Association promoted access to justice by working to protect the public from non-lawyers providing legal services and encouraging pro bono activities such as Law Days. She also encouraged the legal community to help fight hunger in New Jersey through donations to Lawyers Feeding New Jersey, by raising more than $21,000 for its partner, Community FoodBank of New Jersey.