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A Critical Review of MHL Article 81: How Can the Legal Community Do Better?

Robert Abrams, Esq., Abrams, Fensterman, LLP

Robert Abrams (Bob) is the co-founder and an Executive Partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP, a New York Law Journal Top 100 law firm located in Lake Success, New York, with locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Rochester. 


As Bob created his law firm, he developed several practice verticals including Aging and Longevity Law, which includes areas of legal practice such as guardianships, life and retirement planning, estate litigation and health law. Both directly and indirectly as an Executive Partner at Abrams Fensterman, Bob has participated in many high profile cases, some of which helped to create and/or clarify existing law.

In addition to his diverse legal skills, Bob has demonstrated a tremendous sensitivity and understanding of the challenges faced by family members of murder victims, as demonstrated by his representation of the families of Kathleen McCormack Durst, John Frankowski, Sr., and Joseph “Joey” Comunale.

Recognized for his substantive expertise and leadership skills, Bob has been called a “Pillar of Knowledge” and a “National Treasure.” Bob served as Chair of both the Elder and Health Law sections of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA). Bob had the unique honor to serve as guest editor of the historic 2011 issue of the NYSBA Journal which was titled “Are You Prepared for the Elder Years?” and the 2017 issue which was titled “The Dementia Crisis.” Over 100,000 people have read these special issues of the NYSBA Journal.

Bob received his J.D. from New York Law School, his Master’s from New York University and his B.A. from Brooklyn College.

Rose Mary Bailly, Esq., Albany Law School

Rose Mary Bailly is the Executive Director of the Law Revision Commission. She also is Special Counsel to the Aging Law & Policy Program of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Albany Law School.

Ms. Bailly is the author the West’s Practice Commentaries to Article 81, Mental Hygiene Law, and West’s Practice Commentary and Forms to Article 81, Mental Hygiene, and co-author with Barbara Hancock of West’s Practice Commentaries to article 5, title 15 of the General obligations Law, powers of attorney. She is the author of a column on guardianship for Victimization of the Elderly and Disabled, a journal on prevention of abuse, mistreatment and neglect.

Ms. Bailly is a member of the American Bar Association, Real Property and Probate Section, the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section and its Executive Committee. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Government Journal of Law & Policy, a joint publication of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School and the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service of the New York State Bar Association.

Arthur M. Diamond, Hon., New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County

Arthur M. Diamond has served as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court since January, 2004. He was re-elected to his second fourteen year term in November of 2017.


He began his legal career in the Office of the Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon where he spent eight years and served as Deputy Chief of the Trial Bureau. In 1999 and 2000 he was appointed to the County Court by Gov. George Pataki.


His column, Evidentially Speaking, appears regularly in the Nassau Lawyer, the official publication of the Nassau County Bar Association. He has lectured on evidence at the Nassau County Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the New York County Lawyers Association, the Judicial Seminars at the New York State Judicial Institute in White Plains, New York, the Second and Third Departments Attorney for the Child panels and the Hofstra University Continuing Legal Education Institute, among others. He was a co-editor of the Evidence chapter and a peer reviewer of the Article 81 chapter of the 2013 revision of the Bench Book for Judges.


Judge Diamond has served on the Chief Judge’s statewide Judicial Advisory Council, a committee of Justices dedicated to improving trial practices in New York courts and in 2015 was appointed to the New York State Advisory Committee on Guardianship Matters. In January of 2016 he was appointed Supervising Judge of Guardianship matters for Nassau County.


Justice Diamond is a graduate of Rutgers University (New Brunswick 1974) and Hofstra University School of Law.

Fern J. Finkel, Esq., Finkel & Fernandez LLP

Fern J. Finkel, Esq. is a co-founding partner at Finkel & Fernandez, LLP, concentrating in elder law, estate planning, asset protection, benefits and guardianships.

She has been in private practice since 1990.  Fern brings a wealth of experience and compassion to her clients.

Fern has been selected by the Courts, as well as by family members, to serve as the appointed Guardian and/or Trustee for many individuals in need of personal needs and property management.  
Fern is the Co-Chair of the Guardianship Committee of the New York State Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section, a Director of New York National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and Treasurer of New York National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).


Fern graduated with honors from New York University College of Business and Public Administration. She received her Juris Doctor Degree from Boston University School of Law. 


Brian R. Heitner, Esq., Seltzer Sussman Heitner LLP

Brian R. Heitner has been a Partner in Seltzer Sussman Heitner LLP since 2007. He established his own private practice in 1996 focusing primarily on guardianship and estate matters and all aspects of elder law. His practice also encompasses real estate and corporate matters, as well as general civil litigation.

For the last two decades, Brian has developed his practice to become a well-known and well-respected practitioner in the trusts and estates field, with a particular focus on estate litigation, and the specialized area of Article 81 guardianship law.


In addition to routine estate administration in uncontested matters, Brian is a powerful advocate for his clients in contested estates. He has represented petitioners and respondents in litigated estates relative to probate matters, will contests, accounting proceedings and discovery and turnover proceedings in the various Surrogate’s Courts on Long Island and the City of New York. 

Brian is a Member of: the New York State Bar Association and its Trusts and Estates Law Section and Elder Law Section; the Queens County Bar Association, its Surrogate’s Court Committee and Committee for the Elderly and Disabled; the Nassau County Bar Association and its Elder Law Committee and Surrogate’s Court Estates and Trusts Committee; and serval other associations.


Brian graduated from Binghamton University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He obtained his Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School.

Richard I. Horowitz, Hon., New York Supreme Court, Suffolk County

Richard Horowitz was appointed to the Court of Claims by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2015.  He currently sits as an Acting Supreme Court Justice in the dedicated Guardianship Part of Suffolk County. Judge Horowitz’s prior judicial positions include District Court Judge, Acting County Court Judge and Supervising Judge of the District Court.

He has presided in virtually all of the various civil and criminal parts of the District Court, including the Drug Treatment Court and the Mental Health Court. In 2013 he was tasked with creating and presiding over the Human Trafficking Intervention Court.

Judge Horowitz began his legal career as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society of New York.  He served as a Senior Staff Attorney for nineteen years and specialized in working with defendants living with mental illness and chemical addiction.


During a hiatus from the bench in 2014 and 2015, Richard Horowitz served as the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Special Investigations Bureau of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. His Bureau was responsible for combating gang and gun violence, animal cruelty and human trafficking.


Judge Horowitz enjoys teaching.  He is a Special Professor of Law at Hofstra University School of Law, where he teaches a course, of his own design, entitled Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System. He also serves as guest lecturer at Touro Law Center and at the Suffolk Academy of Law.

He is a graduate of Binghamton University and Hofstra University School of Law.




Anthony J. Lamberti, Esq., Armstrong & Lamberti PLLC

Anthony J. Lamberti, Esq. joined Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC as partner in 2011. He focuses on elder law, trusts and estates and guardianship cases.

He previously served as a Principal Law Clerk of the New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, to the Honorable Leonard Scholnick and oversaw approximately 1,500 guardianship cases. Mr. Lamberti serves on a number of boards related to guardianship and elder law and he is a frequent lecturer on these issues before bar associations and civic organizations.

He is Chair, of the Elder Law Section Executive Committee and Guardianship sub-committee at the New York State Bar Association. 

Mr. Lamberti received his JD from Brooklyn Law School and his BA from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he played baseball for the legendary coach Lou DeMartino and he was elected to the John Jay College Athletics Hall of Fame. 

Charles Troia, Hon., New York Supreme Court, Richmond County

Honorable Charles Troia is Acting Justice for the Supreme Court, Richmond County, Appointed by Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudent, Appointed 2013 to present.  

He is Judge for the Criminal Court of the City of New York, Richmond County, Appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 2010 to 2010 and reappointed 2011 to 2011, and 2012 to 2021.  Previously, Judge Troia was Principal Cout Attorney, NYS Supreme Court, Private practice and Attonery, NYC Law Department, Torts Division.


Judge Troia received his JD from St. John’s University School of Law and his BA from St. John’s University 


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