A Brief History of NIABA
The concept of an Italian American Bar Association on a national level saw its origins in Los Angeles and Chicago at the urging of two prominent Italo-American jurists, Mario Clinco (Los Angeles) and Gerald Sbarbaro (Chicago), who had each served terms as president of the National American Society of Jurists.
In 1982, Richard Caccioppo of Los Angeles began making contact across the nation with the leaders of State and Regional Italian American Law Society of Jurists. Among the societies that expressed an interest in organizing a National Italian American legal society were:
An organizational meeting was held in April 1983, at Tiro a Signo, a private club located in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. Among those present at the inaugural meeting and instrumental in the formation of the National Italian American Bar Association were:
- The Italian American Lawyers of Los Angeles
- The Justinian Society of Lawyers of Chicago
- The Justinian Law Society of Massachusetts
- The Justinian Society of Philadelphia
- The Columbian Lawyers Association of New York, and
- The Italian American Lawyers Association of Michigan
What became evident at the inaugural meeting was the instant camaraderie shared by all in attendance, the pride in heritage, and the need to discuss, debate, and to enjoy good food and wine together before coming to the ultimate (and obvious) resolution of the foundation of the National Italian American Bar Association.
- Joseph Albanese, New York
- Richard Cacciopo, California
- Richard Caifano, Illinois
- Judy Cannavo, California
- Hon. Joseph Giamboi, New York
- Vince Damien, Florida
- Paul Vitrano, Michigan
Without the hard work and dedication of those responsible for arranging and participating in the first meeting, the NIABA may well have drifted into the sea of good intentions.
More than 25 years later, the Association continues to thrive and grow in numbers and influence. Thanks in large measure to a group of dedicated Italian-American legal professionals with an expanding number of interests and accomplished brothers and sisters who continue to debate long and hard and enjoy good food and wine in order to assure the continuing presence and influence of the Italian-American legal community.
NIABA was formed as National Justinian Society of Italian American Lawyers by filing of Articles of Formation on April 20, 1983 in the State of California, signed by Richard Cacioppo and Judge Mario Clinco. The Articles of Incorporation were amended to change the name to National Italian-American Bar Association by an amendment filed December 31, 1986, signed by Richard Cacioppo and Judith M. Cannavo. In August 1989, the IRS recognized NIABA as tax-exempt organization under IRC Section 501(c)(3).
The first president elected was Richard K. Cacioppo who served from 1983-1987. He had been a lawyer in New Jersey who later moved to California.
The second President was Hon. Joseph N. Giamboi from Bronx, NY. He served from 1987-1989. He enlisted help from Richard Caifano from Chicago and Ronald A. Cimino from Washington DC.
In the period of 1986 -2002, NIABA formed local organizations into Chapters, and each Chapter paid the dues of $25 per member. Also in 1986, NIABA and NIAF jointly sponsored a reception in Washington DC to honor the then Judge Scalia of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington DC. Shortly thereafter, President Regan announced his selection of Judge Scalia as nominee for the US Supreme Court.
Alfred A. Affinito from San Francisco CA was the third president, serving 1990-1991. He was instrumental in expanding the San Francisco Chapter and created new Chapters in New Orleans and New Jersey.
Michael C. Rainone of Philadelphia was the fourth president from 1991-1993. He introduced Professor Paul Malloy from Syracuse University School of Law, who became the academic administrator of the NIABA Law Digest which was published for 25 years. There was a loyal support for the Digest. The founders were Hon. Anthony J. Cutrona, Hon Joseph N. Giamboi, and Michael Raimone. It was mailed to various law schools and to each member. Later, it was prepared in digital form and sent by e-mail to each member. Mr. Raimone sponsored a NIABA admission to the US Supreme Court and meeting with Justice Scalia. After his retirement, Mr. Raimone became a lecturer at various public and private schools, upholding the integrity and courage of Christopher Columbus and his contributions to the New World.
The fifth president was Salvatore J. Tornatore from Illinois. He carried the ball with board meetings in Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Orlando. He was instrumental in founding the Rhode Island chapter on April 28, 1994 with a big push by Phil Boncore.
Hon. Anthony J. Cutrona became the sixth President from 1995-1997. His achievements were establishment of a printed directory of members in 1995 and also a directory for the five Columbian Lawyers Associations for First Judicial Dept., Westchester, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
The seventh president was Hon. Bruno Tassone from Chicago from 1997-1999. He helped establish the "membership benefits program" and fortified the scholarship program.
Liliana A. Ciccodicola from Michigan was the eighth president serving 1999-2001. She helped NIABA become an international organization and developed the website for NIABA. On her first day as president, she announced the places and dates of board meetings for the two years of her presidency.
Raymond A. Pacia was the ninth president, serving from 2001-2003. He was active in establishing law school groups to become student members of NIABA in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and distinguished himself as author and lecturer on Roman law contributions to the common law. He presented the lecture as one-hour CLE programs at board meetings in Montreal, Providence, and Las Vegas. He helped establish the Connecticut Italian American Bar Association. During his presidency, he used direct mail membership campaigns from the state directories of lawyers in Vermont, West Virginal, and Idaho. NIABA membership reached 4,800.
The tenth president was Cirino A. Bruno from NYC, serving 2003-2005. He had extensive contacts within the Italian American Community and was able to stage events at the New York Athletic Club, Tiro A Signo restaurant, and Citizens Columbus Club. He expanded membership in NYC and promoted the Judicial Appointments Committee of NIABA.
Dominic W. Frinzi from Milwaukee became the eleventh president, serving 2005-2007. He was a kind man who knew the world and its workings. He had been the Commissioner of Horse Racing for the State of Wisconsin and candidate for election for Governor of State of Wisconsin. He partnered an event in Washington DC with NIAF at which each Justice Scalia and Justice Alito presented one-hour lectures.
Philip R. Boncore became the twelfth President, serving 2007-2009. Being from East Boston, he was active in adding members from the local Justinian Society to become NIABA Members. He was past president of the Order of Sons of Italy and attracted new Members to NIABA.
Anthony Gianfrancesco from Providence Rhode Island became the next President, serving 2009-2011. He pushed the board and regional vice presidents to assist with the expansion of members. He used state directories of lawyers, identified potential Italian names, and undertook personal correspondence to add members.
The fourteenth President was Frank J. Schiro from Milwaukee. He was an assistant prosecutor and an aggressive litigator. During his term from 2011-2013, he helped expand membership and introduced a functioning business administrator to NIABA to manage the dues and correspondence of NIABA and create and distribute periodical newsletters to all members.
Dino Mazzone from Montreal, Canada, became the next president from 2013-2015. He focused on expansion of membership and helped NIABA expand interaction with the Association of Lawyers of Italian Heritage in Canada.
The sixteenth President was Joseph Sena Jr. from White Plains, NY, serving 2015-2017. He is a great orator for NIABA and spoke generously at various meetings of local NIABA Chapters in the USA. He approved the first NIABA CLE program in Rome, Italy held in September 2015.
Paul Finizio was elected the current President in 2017. For many years he served as President of Il Circolo of Palm Beach and Board of NIABA. He expanded NIABA membership, particularly in Florida and Rome, Italy. He approved the second NIABA CLE program in Rome, Italy held in October 2017.
Although not serving as president, Richard Caifano from Chicago was editor of the NIABA Newsletter for many years and served as historian. Frank Bruno was the "go to” lawyer in New Orleans and served as vice president for Southern Region. Joseph Albanese from New York was helpful in expansion with contacts to within the Little Italy community. Anthony Errico from New York was a "no-nonsense” lawyer who helped other lawyers make a decision to join NIABA.
There were Honorary Lifetime Members of NIABA over the years and they include:
- Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Justice,
- Cardinal Bevilaqua, Diocese of Philadelphia,
- Alphonse M. D' Amato, U.S. Senator,
- Dennis DeConcini, U.S. Senator, State of Arizona,
- Peter V. Domemici, U.S. Senator, State of New Mexico,
- Patrick J. Leahy, U.S. Senator, State of Vermont.