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NJ Commission on Professionalism in the Law to honor 3 distinguished attorneys, dozens more

Top honors from the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law will go to a prominent civil attorney, an advocate for the economically disadvantaged and a retired state Superior Court assignment judge.

The commission’s most prestigious awards honor individuals who uphold the profession’s highest ideals and have significant career achievements. Joseph LaSala, a partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, will receive the Daniel J. O’Hern Award. Colleen M. Cunningham, a team leader at Legal Services of Northwest New Jersey, will be recognized with the Charles J. Hollenbeck Award. The Lighthouse Award will be given to Retired Assignment Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr., of Chasan Lamparello Mallon & Cappuzzo.

The annual awards will be presented during a luncheon on July 12. Dozens of attorneys representing bar associations across the state will also be honored with Professional Lawyer of the Year Awards, given to those who are respected by colleagues for their character, competence and exemplary professional behavior.

Here are the top honorees:

O’Hern Award
The O’Hern Award is presented to an attorney who exhibits integrity, competence, high ethical standards, career achievement and service to the bar and community.

LaSala is a seasoned civil attorney of more than 40 years, who has extensive experience in practice areas ranging from product liability actions and multi-party toxic tort litigation to corporate dissolutions and environmental coverage matters. In 2017, he was awarded the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor in recognition of his exemplary contributions to improving the justice system and serving the greater New Jersey legal community. He was also honored by the Essex County Bar Association in 2008 with a lifetime achievement award.

“Joseph LaSala is an exceptional attorney who has exceeded all professionalism standards. It is hard to imagine anyone who has contributed more to the profession, the community, and to legal organizations across the State of New Jersey,” said G. Glennon Troublefield, president of the Essex County Bar Association and treasurer of the New Jersey State Bar Association. “He is the lawyer everyone turns to for his judgement, leadership, and assistance. Whenever he is asked, he has willingly given his time, insight, and wisdom, taking part in bettering a number of organizations and communities.”

Hollenbeck Award
The Hollenbeck Award recognizes an attorney who is employed by a governmental agency or nonprofit organization that serves the needs of the legal community and has served with diligence, competence and dedication to the profession.

Cunningham serves clients as an attorney with Legal Services of Northwest New Jersey, a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal aid for people with economic disadvantages. For more than 20 years she has represented individuals in criminal, civil and family law and has extensive experience in life planning and guardianship matters.

She “works tirelessly to serve the underserved residents of Sussex County in vital legal matters. Without (her) knowledge and expertise, it is likely that her clients could possibly fall victim to the legal system or not seek legal remedies for which they are entitled,” according to the Sussex County Bar Association, which nominated her for the award.

Lighthouse Award
The Lighthouse Award honors an attorney or judge whose professional community-based efforts serve as an inspiration to colleagues.

Assignment Judge Bariso, a retired Superior Court judge of 16 years, including serving as assignment judge in Hudson County immediately prior to retiring, has decades of experience consulting on complex litigation matters affecting both private and public sector clients. The former assignment judge is a frequent lecturer on civil litigation issues for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, earning the NJICLE Alfred C. Clapp Award for Excellence in Continuing Legal Education in 2015. He also volunteers with programs that help develop strong, ethical and confident young lawyers, according to Hudson County Bar Association President Maria P. Vallejo.

“The value and import of the work Judge Bariso performed during his tenure as the Assignment Judge of Hudson County is undisputed in the eyes of the Hudson County Bar Association,” according to Vallejo. “His continued dedication to professionalism prior to and after his retirement from the bench is just as noteworthy and valuable.”

Visit to register for the luncheon and view a full list of the award recipients.
June 26, 2023
Contact: Thomas Nobile
Director of Communications
Tel: 732-937-7527
[email protected]

Contact: NJSBA Communications Department
Tel: 732-937-7527
Email: [email protected]


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