May 21, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kate Coscarelli
NEW BRUNSWICK - Kimberly A. Yonta is the immediate past president of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
She took the oath of office for the one-year term last night at the NJSBA 2021 Annual Meeting.
Yonta said her experience as president of the Association, New Jersey’s leading group for judges, lawyers and legal professionals, was the pinnacle of her career to date.
“It has been an honor to serve as the president of the New Jersey State Bar Association during one of the most trying times in our lifetime,” Yonta said. “When we were confronted with challenges to simply do our jobs and carry out justice during this pandemic, I had the privilege to work with the many smart, selfless women and men of the bar, from every corner of this state, who supported each other, supported the NJSBA, and resolved problems and issues that affected us as attorneys.”
Throughout her tenure, Yonta faced the daunting challenges the pandemic presented head-on, vigorously advocating for the legal profession at all levels of government and in the Judiciary.
One of her first actions was to establish the Pandemic Task Force to examine and address numerous concerns the public health crisis created for the legal community and its ability to serve the public. And to ensure public access to the justice system, which was made more difficult by the pandemic, Yonta launched NJ Free Legal Answers, an online version of the traditional walk-in clinic. Dozens of attorneys stepped up to volunteer to help lend guidance to more than 400 civil legal questions individuals posted on the site.
Yonta and the NJSBA ardently advocated with government officials in every branch to address the needs of lawyers and their clients. Under her leadership, the NJSBA helped to draft or support more than a dozen pieces of legislation over the year, including a law allowing remote notarization when the shut-down prohibited in-person meetings because of the public health crisis. The NJSBA also raised constitutional concerns about virtual jury selection in criminal trials in an amicus brief it submitted in State v. Dangcil and about virtual grand juries in an amicus brief in State v. Vega-Larregui.
The NJSBA successfully advocated for passage of Daniel’s Law on the state level and has been working on a national level for a companion measure to prohibit the disclosure of personal addresses and other identifying information about judges and their families. The measures pay tribute to Daniel Anderl, the son of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, who was gunned down in an attack at her home that also left her husband critically wounded.
And as the courts faced an impending crush of cases exacerbated by the pandemic, Yonta also urged the governor and Senate to take prompt action to fill the state’s numerous judicial vacancies.
Yonta took the helm of the NJSBA during not only the worst public health crisis in a century, but one where a societal reckoning over racial and social justice took place after the country was rocked by protests over the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed Black individuals. After Floyd’s death, she established the Commission on Racial Equity in the Law to identify ways to address root causes of inequities in the legal profession and the law.
The Association also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, marked the 25th anniversary of the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law, and raised over $10,000 for the Lawyers Feeding New Jersey campaign.
“As we begin to safely re-open, know that the NJSBA has worked hard for its members and will continue to do so as we transition post-pandemic,” Yonta said. “I am optimistic about the future. We have shown we can resolve problems and issues that affect us as attorneys. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to watch as lawyers lent helping hands to each other throughout this turbulent year.”
Yonta has extensive experience in the Association. She is a past chair of the Criminal Law and Women in the Profession sections, has previously chaired the Lawyers in Transition and Finance and Operations committees, and is a former chair of the Young Lawyers Division. Yonta is a member of several other Association groups, including the Amicus, Finance and Operations, Government and Public Sector Lawyers, and Meetings Arrangements and Program committees; and has served as the Association’s representative to the New Jersey Supreme Court Committees on Model Criminal Jury Charges and Jury Selection. She is a recipient of the Solo Small-Firm Lawyer of the Year Award for her work related to lawyers in transition, and received a 2018 Legislative Service Award for efforts creating the veterans diversion program.
Yonta is also a former trustee with the Middlesex County Bar Association.
She is married to former NJSBA Trustee Craig M. Aronow. They live in East Brunswick with their two daughters, Abigail and Madeline.