History of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Westchester County, Inc.

The Columbian Lawyers Association of Westchester County was founded in 1982. It is committed to the traditions of justice, equality, integrity and professionalism. The membership comprises lawyers of Italian descent, including practitioners, judges, educators and civic leaders.

In the fall of 1982, a group of Italo-American lawyers met and set in motion the formation of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Westchester County.

The initial meetings were under the leadership of retired Judge James Caruso. The constitution and by-laws were adopted and officers and directors elected. Our first President, Carl Vergari, took office in September 1983.

Since its inception, the Association has assisted the Italian-American community in general and particularly, Italian-American students. Contributions have been made to numerous Italian-American organizations and our initial contribution was to the Westchester Community College Italian Scholarship Fund. This was followed by the establishment of a scholarship at Pace University Law School. The James R. Caruso Award totaling $5,000.00 was awarded to a second year Italian-American Law Student.

Our Annual Scholarship Award has increased to a total of $20,000.00. This sum was increased due to the incredible generosity of the Pope family and its foundation. We have designed a $5,000.00 scholarship in the name of the Honorable Carl A. Vergari, former District Attorney of Westchester County and a $5,000.00 scholarship in the name of the Generoso Pope family.

By unanimous Board approval, we have designed a new scholarship in the name of one of our esteemed colleagues and one of our most dedicated members who, unfortunately, was lost to us much too early in life – Thomas Bisordi. It is with great pleasure that we honor his memory.

Our committee selects four Italian-American Law students who have completed their first year of study and can exhibit both merit and need. The $5,000.00 scholarships awarded are the Carl A. Vergari Scholarship, Thomas Bisordi Scholarship, Generoso Pope Foundation Scholarship and Columbian Lawyers Association Scholarship.

The Association has also developed a program for Italian-American law students affording them an opportunity to serve as legal interns with judges who are Association members.

In addition to the work with students, the Association has extended itself to the community at large. Our members have provided “pro bono” legal services.

The Association has also assisted Italian-American educators and community members with their efforts to continue the teaching of the Italian language at several school districts in Westchester County.

A most enriching program of our Association is the regular meetings where we have distinguished speakers, from all fields of endeavor, on important matters involving law, government, social, historical and contemporary issues.

In 1984, the Board of Directors of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Westchester County voted that at its annual dinner dance, an award for distinguished service would be presented to that man or woman of Italian heritage who had made a significant contribution to the bench or bar and who had been an outstanding example and asset to the Italian-American community at large. All of our honorees have been outstanding attorneys or jurists who have given unselfishly of themselves and who have been a source of pride to Italian-Americans.

In 1988, our organization renamed this award in honor of Judge Richard J. Daronco, who was tragically taken from our midst.

The past recipients of our distinguished service award represent a veritable “Who’s Who” of outstanding, dedicated and unselfish citizens and public servants.

We are proud of the rich traditions that have been established and are confident that the future will be equally rewarding.

Click HERE to download a copy of our Constitution and By-laws.