Five To Receive Distinguished Awards From UB Law Alumni

By Mary Beth Spina

Release Date: April 17, 2000 This content is archived.


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Paul Ivan Birzon

John J. Nasca

Howard R. Relin

Rose H. Sconiers

Kenneth B. Forrest

Irving M. Shuman

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Five graduates of the UB Law School will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards at the Law Alumni Association's 38th annual meeting and awards dinner, to be held at 5:30 p.m. May 3 in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The awards, established by the association's board of directors in 1963, recognize the valuable contributions that UB law school alumni have made to their profession and community.

In addition, Paul Ivan Birzon, a partner with Birzon & Davis, P.C., and long-time faculty member in the UB Law School, will be honored for outstanding service to the community by a non-alumnus.

Awards will be presented to:

• The Hon. Rose H. Sconiers, '73, of Buffalo, who in 1993 became the first African-American woman elected a justice of the New York State Supreme Court's Eighth Judicial District, "for her conscientious and diligent performance in the judiciary."

Sconiers and a panel of 12 advisors have been named to lead a community-outreach program to improve confidence in the fairness of the court system. A former member of the UB Council, she has held various positions, including assistant corporation counsel for the City of Buffalo, executive attorney with the Legal Aid Bureau and Buffalo city court judge. She serves on the board of the American Red Cross and is a trustee for Children's Hospital of Buffalo and St. Mary's School for the Deaf.

• Kenneth B. Forrest, '76, of Roslyn, an assigning partner in the litigation department of the New York City law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, "for his leadership by example as a private practitioner."

A specialist in commercial litigation, Forrest has had a leading role in the nationwide effort to get judicial approval for a $200 billion settlement between various states and the tobacco industry. He is a member of the UB Law School Dean's Advisory Council and serves on numerous professional committees, including the committees on Federal Legislation and on Professional Responsibility of the Association of the Bar of New York City. In 1997, he received the National Kidney Foundation of New Jersey and New York Award of Excellence. His wife, Ellen, also is a UB Law School graduate.

• Howard R. Relin, '68, of Rochester, Monroe County district attorney, "for his commitment to public service."

Relin is nationally known as a legal innovator for his efforts in prosecutions involving drugs, domestic violence, guns and elder abuse. Through his leadership, Rochester was the first city in New York State to have a Drug Treatment Court, the second city in the nation to have a combined federal and local task force to prosecute illegal-gun possession and distribution, and the first upstate New York community to have a specialized elder-abuse prosecutor. Other innovations include a program established in Rochester City Court that gives special attention to victims of domestic violence.

• Irving M. Shuman, '54, of Williamsville, a founding partner of the law firm of Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan, P.C., "for his many contributions to the betterment of our community."

Shuman has been active as a community leader in Buffalo, particularly in the Jewish community. He is a past president and vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo and a past general chair of the United Jewish Fund Campaign. He serves on the Jewish federation's executive committee and has been chairman of several of its committees, including those dealing with Russian resettlement, budget and allocations, governance, project renewal, Jewish agency and the joint Kadimah and Federation Review Committee.

Shuman has been a member of the boards of the Jewish Community Center, the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies, the National UJA Campaign Cabinet, temples Emanuel and Shaarey Zedek, Jewish Family Service, the Bureau of Jewish Education, Studio Arena Theatre, Calasanctius School and the national Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. He also has been active in the United Way.

• John J. Nasca, '46, of Amherst, a partner with Nasca & Nasca, "for his exemplary performance in business."

Nasca, whose law practice is in Buffalo, is a director of Joseph Naples & Associates, Inc.; Los-Green, Inc.; the Community Council Western New York Partnership and the Kaleida Health System Council. He is a past director of, and has served for 25 years, on the Executive Committee of Fleet Bank. He also is a past director and executive committee member of Irvin Industries and a member of its subsidiary boards in England, Sweden and Italy; a past chairman of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce, Millard Fillmore Hospital and the D'Youville College Board of Trustees. In addition, he is co-owner of the Park, Buffalo and Transit Drive-In theaters and a co-founder of the Twin Outdoor Theaters and the six Twin Lakes Miniature Golf courses.

• Paul Ivan Birzon of Attica, a partner of Birzon & Davis, P.C., "for outstanding service to the community by a non-alumnus."

An associate professor of evidence in the UB Law School and graduate of Columbia University Law School, Birzon is a nationally known specialist in matrimonial and family law. He is a founding member of the U.S. Chapter of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Western New York Association of Matrimonial Lawyers. He was listed by Town and Country magazine and in "Best Lawyers in America" for matrimonial and family law.

Reservations for the dinner must be made by April 28. For more information, call the UB law alumni office at 645-2107.

Underwriters for the event are ADF Construction Corp.; Manufacturers & Traders Trust Co.; Personal Trust Services and Trust and Investment Services; Ticor Title Insurance Co.; Alan Fenster Associates, and National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp.

Also, Brisbane Consulting Group, Inc.; CT Corporation; The Daily Record; Peter M. Vito & Associates, Inc.; Buyers & Kaczor Reporting Services, Inc.; Coronet Process Service, Inc.; CSC United States Corp. Co.; Diversity Training Workplace Solutions, Inc.; Foit-Albert Associates Architecture, Engineering & Surveying, P.C.; Georgetown Square Wine and Liquor; Lawley Service, Inc.; Frank R. Papa National Fire Adjustment Co., Inc.; Sanders Legal Publishers, and R. L. Sonnenberger Land Surveyors.