Celebrations of summer…

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With all the partner-ears in the Telesca Center for Justice, we heard that Ray Squilla, our dedicated guardian that watches over all of us and all of you as you come to the Telesca Center for Justice was celebrating 20 years in this position this week. So we spread the word to everyone in the building to show up in the lobby at 10:30 AM on Tuesday, the 15th. A big sheet cake was ordered, and as we rode down the elevator, I suspected there would be 25-30 folks at best since it was the middle of the morning. But much to everyone’s surprise, there was more like 80-100. Poor Ray was standing in the midst of it all, wondering why everyone was congregating in the lobby. Adding to his state of wonderment, I approached Ray to ask if I had missed a fire drill? Were the police on the way? “Ray, what is going on?” To which Ray responded, “Mary, I don’t know. I am asking everybody and no one seems to know.” With that I announced that we were all there to celebrate Ray’s 20th Anniversary as our trusted guardian in the Telesca Center. In addition to knowing everyone in the building by name, I know he knows pretty much the whole bar membership by name as well. We all agreed, Ray is a gift to downtown Rochester, and particularly to everyone who works and visits the Telesca Center. Following a few more brief remarks, Ray was greeted with congratulatory hugs, kisses, handshakes and cake!

Ray w_cake

Last night the MCBA hosted a welcome reception to our new substantive law LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Committee last night. We had a nice turnout of members of the LGBT community as well as allies of the LGBT community from the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board. The primary focus of the LGBT Committee is to assist the MCBA and our members in being better educated and informed on the multitude of legal issues facing LGBT people. Secondarily, the LGBT Committee will provide a comfortable place for our LGBT members and allies to gather and foster a supportive community locally. Supporting the formation of an LGBT Committee further supports the MCBA’s commitment to encouraging diversity and inclusion within the association and the practice of law in Rochester. The first formal meeting of the LGBT Committee will be Monday, September 15th at 12:15 pm in the Nixon Board Room. MCBA members are welcome to join. If you are interested in joining, please contact Ginny LaCour at valacour@mcba.org. Join early and be part of the early planning.

Also this week is tonight’s July BarSTOP at a NEW location. The City Grill, the cool new place at the corner of East & Alexander. Coming from downtown, just past Alexander, on East, the entrance will be your very first left. Pull right in, and you will be greeted by their complimentary valet service. BarSTOP continues to be a great success with all generations showing up for this informal, no speeches, just fun event from 5:00 – 7:00 pm on the 3rd Thursday of every month. Drink specials and complimentary food courtesy of Alliance Advisory Group and Counsel Press. If you don’t take advantage, you can’t very well say, “the MCBA does not provide any social networking…” can you?! I invite you to come and check out this really laid back event at one of the new places in town.

Bar STOP no red eye

We have so much to celebrate and to be grateful for at the MCBA, and at the Telesca Center for Justice.

Thanks for celebrating and for checking in,





Welcome to the new bar year…

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And what a great year it will be! I started the day with an 8:00 AM meeting with my new leadership, President Steve Modica and President-Elect Neil Rowe. It is 10:30, and I just returned to the office. It was a great meeting! This monthly leadership meeting, held at various Panera’s where we can have endless coffee, is an opportunity for the three of us to meet to talk through various meeting agendas; dialogue on different ideas and initiatives; anticipate potential issues or areas that require our attention; and anything else that requires our attention. I started requesting this meeting several presidents ago. I prepare a “Leadership Work Plan” that I provide updated to them each month. In some respects it serves as our “leadership task list”, and I have found it is very effective in helping us avoid the dropping of balls.

In the early part of the bar term, the document starts out at about 4-5 pages, but as the bar year grows, so grows the Work Plan. What I look forward to witnessing in these early meetings is the relationship between the two bar leaders. And this morning, as in past years, I was not disappointed. Steve and Neil were in a good synergy together. Steve was not afraid to delegate, and Neil was stepping up and offering to assist. I loved the energy at the table!

We discussed the upcoming Board agenda for next week’s meeting, as well as a Task Force Steve is going to appoint to do some exploration on a particular matter. We talked about Strategic Planning, and how to continue to move this forward, and since Neil teaches strategic planning at Keuka College, he is a natural to work with me on reviewing where we are on this very large beast of a project.  We then covered another long list of items that would leave this blog to more than 3 pages if I wrote about all of them. As the bar year rolls on, you can look forward to hearing more.

With about 45 minutes in the office, to connect with members of the bar team on a few matters, I headed over to City Hall to meet up with our 13 summer law clerks from the Diversity Clerkship Program. We had the great honor of having lunch with Mayor Lovely Warren, T. Andrew Brown, Spencer Ash and Jeremy Cooney. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear each of their stories about how they ended up in Rochester, whether born and raised, or relocated here, and the influence of the local legal community on their personal and professional life. The law clerks had the opportunity to ask the Mayor about the future of Rochester; about the schools; and about life in Rochester. The discussion was open and honest about the challenges that face our community, but that they have confidence and faith in the people of Rochester that we will turn this City around. The energy in the room was without a doubt contagious.

Mayor Warren speaks to clerkship

The session ended with a great group photo opportunity with the Mayor, the passing out of her business card, and an offer from Mayor Warren, that she is free to meet with them again if they are interested in connecting. The business card was a prized possession by some of the clerks that could not believe they received her card. The gathering was warm, genuine and full of hopefulness. Their farewell gift from the Mayor was a “hot off the press” new Rochester pin titled — “Believe” with the Rochester logo.

Clerkship students and Mayor Warren

With a little over an hour to go before my next meeting, I have to complete this blog, and then focus on reaching out to a many of you with a friendly reminder on your dues renewal. Perhaps this blog will serve to remind you that you have not yet renewed. If so, feel free to go online right now to: http://www.mcba.org/Members/JointheMCBA/Renew/. Make my day!

At 3:00 pm, Steve will be in the MCBA offices for a meeting with Anita Pelletier from Nixon Peabody regarding the necessary changes to our By-Laws as a result of the new Non-Profit Revitalization Act. Ginny has left me about 10 sets of the various by-laws that we have for the MCBA, the Foundation, the Center for Education, and all of the sections. Ninety minutes of by-law talk. I think I need to go get a cup of coffee.

Once that meeting is out, I pick up my 82-year-old mom for a family dinner out with her 80-year-old brother, Paul McGlynn, and members of his family, in town for a short visit.

My hope is that by 9:00 pm, I will be home and on the porch listening to the sounds of summer, and thinking back to what a great day it was, and what a great year lies ahead.

Thanks for checking in,


Happy Fourth of July! Guest Post by Liz Novak

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On behalf of the MCBA staff, I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July!


Of course, the day is more than just fireworks, parades and hot dogs, it is the day of independence of the United States of America.

And to different people, it may represent different things – time to spend with loved ones; a day to give thanks for the freedoms and liberties we have today; a moment to pay tribute to those out there on the lines fighting for freedom, whether it’s our veterans or those who helped to bring the Civil Rights Act to pass; or simply an acknowledgment that Independence Day was “the first time that Americans stood up and said, ‘We are Americans, this is what we stand for.’”

That is how MCBA member and Trustee Peter Glennon sees it. He described his feelings about Independence Day in an article that ran this week in the D&C about him, and his dedication and work with Honor Flight, a program that takes military veterans free of charge to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials of the wars that they fought in for our freedoms.

Here is a link to the article: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/communities/pittsford/2014/07/01/peter-glennons-dedicated-honor-flights-veterans/11812103/

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about some of the good work that our young lawyers are doing in the community, and here is another fine example of our members bettering the community and more…and I see no better timing to highlight Peter’s work than on the eve of our country’s independence day, so I encourage everyone to read the article.

To quote Louis D. Brandeis: “Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

Happy Independence Day, one and all! Be safe out there…



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I came across this image of gratitude, and I really liked it. I loved the personal nature of the language.

So it is with my heart and an abundance of feeling, that I wish to express to you my gratitude as we conclude the 2013-14 bar year.

To MCBA President Diane Cecero;

To MCBA President Elect Steve Modica;

To Treasurer Amy Varel;

To Secretary Neil Rowe;

To Immediate Past President Connie Walker;

To the MCBA Board of Trustees;

Board Photo

To the Foundation President Audrey Peartree;

To Foundation President Elect Bruce Lawrence;

To the Foundation Board of Directors;

To all of the Committee and Section Chairs, and their Members;

To the Partners in the Telesca Center for Justice;


To all of the Past Presidents;

To all of the Foundation Donors;

To everyone that attended a CLE; and to the Academy of Law for bringing them to the Bar;

To everyone that attended one of our more than 3-4 dozen events throughout the year; and

To the incredible MCBA Team that makes everything above and below happen:  Kathy, Liz, Louise, Ginny, Galina, Diane, Mark, Dajaneé, Dianne, and Merritt. They are an incredibly dedicated and passionate group of people to work with every day…we should all be grateful.


I am grateful for all that we accomplished this year, and grateful that you allow me to be frustrated, and you join me in being frustrated, when we don’t accomplish all we set out to do because the bar year simply became too busy.

But I am grateful that you have we will have a “let’s try again next year attitude.”

Most of all, I am grateful for your faith and belief in the MCBA, and for your confidence in the MCBA.

I am grateful for the fact that you do not always agree with us, and when you don’t, I am grateful that you are comfortable enough to say, “Mary, I don’t agree…”. I am grateful for your willingness to debate when you don’t agree.

I am grateful for those of you that have renewed your dues already for the year, and for those that have yet to renew, I would be MOST grateful if you were to call Liz Novak and take care of that little piece of business right now!

So if throughout the year, you sense that I need to be reminded to be more grateful, please promise me that you will call and remind me.

And on this 26th day of June, I am grateful for my first day of vacation.

Have a great upcoming holiday week as we officially begin the start of summer and the start of a new bar year.

Thanks for checking in,


The birds woke me up….again

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A sure sign of summer is the early morning sounds of the early morning birds doing their early morning chirping. My house has no A/C, something my kids repeatedly suggest I should get every summer when they visit for a few hot nights. I repeatedly ignore them.

My front yard has two good size trees right outside my windows, so at times I feel as though I am sleeping in a bird sanctuary — the chirping is so darn loud. I am a light sleeper anyway. So this morning, when I really would have loved a little more sleep, the chirping seemed to start a little earlier than usual.

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As soon as one eye is awake, my mind begins to move slowly, then as it picks up speed, I am picking up my iMary assistant (my iPhone) to begin responding to emails, reviewing tasks for the day, stalking my children on Facebook to be sure they did not do anything outrageous overnight, and reviewing my meetings for the day.

This particular morning, I decided to grab the fleece, the coffee and head to the porch to finalize my remarks for this evening’s installation dinner, and to write this blog since it is Thursday. As soon as Dajaneé Parrish, our incredible Communications Coordinator, arrives on the scene, there will be a knock on my door, and she will peek in with her big smile, saying, “good morning Mary! I just wanted to see how you are doing on the blog today…” Poor kid. She is so polite with me. Some days I need no inspiration, and other days, Dae and Liz Novak are feeding me ideas, and I have them right up against the wire. For Dae, when she receives the blog, it determines the rest of her day and when she will be able to hit the send button on the eDocket.

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I have written the blog from home, many from this porch at night or in this early morning hour, from the office, while waiting in a doctor’s office, while having a glass of wine with friends or in a meeting when a really great idea strikes, and I just need to get this quick thought down. But my porch has really become a place that I go to for thinking, processing or simply trying to be quiet.

The moment I am up in the day, the sliding door gets opened, and the porch is my main gathering space, even on a cool day. A jacket, fleece and the heater, make the porch this warm, quiet place to simply sit and be.

Today, I am thinking about tonight’s installation of our 119th President, Steve Modica. It seems as though it was only a few short months ago that we celebrated Diane Cecero as our 118th President, but, in fact, a full year has passed. This year has flown by like no other. Diane worked incredibly hard in her second job, while maintaining her primary gig as Counsel to the President of Monroe Community College. Diane has been a great and thoughtful president, but to hear more on Diane, and Steve, you will need to come to tonight’s installation dinner. If you have not registered, you can call Ginny LaCour at 402-7188, BUT do not tell her I told you to call this late, she will kill me.

Now that the sun is finally up, my final thought as I pack it all up to get ready for work is — I wonder if my yard is big enough to pull off a summer BarSTOP here? I would love to have you all over to the house and the porch. We would have to take turns in the porch, and I would probably have to get a port-a-potty since on top of no AC, I have one potty! LOL

What do you think? Should I try it? I think it would be a blast. Would you come?

Thanks for checking in. Hope to see you tonight. If not, see you around the MCBA, and if I don’t, where are you?


Guest Post by Liz Novak: Do Good, Feel Good

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~Dr. Seuss

I’m fortunate enough to be friends with a number of our members on Facebook. Although, they might think of it as an unfortunate  situation since, as anyone who knows me knows that once we’re friends on Facebook, I will tag you in any of the MCBA event photos we have of you.

So, on Sunday, I was perusing Facebook and came across a couple of photos and posts from two of our dedicated lawyers Wende Knapp and Penny Dentinger. They had completed their first Tour de Cure, along with several other young lawyers like Curtis Johnson and Greg Fassler, and it sounds like they’re already game for the next one.

Penny and wende before

Seeing on Facebook their excitement in accomplishing that and at the same time doing good for the community made me think. It made me think about how I sometimes forget during this hectic, busy time of year how much our lawyers do outside of the MCBA; and that your volunteer work goes beyond what you do for the MCBA; and that, yes, your work for the MCBA is volunteer work.

I take for granted sometimes that when one of you becomes President or chair of a section or involved in another leadership position, it’s more than just a few extra hours that is added to your plate…it’s much more than that….on top of all that you already do. You have busy lives outside of the MCBA –as you should!

So, with that in mind, we’ve decided to have a little fun with a social media campaign this summer, while at the same time giving our members a few more shout outs.

And here it is: Many of you are already out there doing good work beyond that of the MCBA and the legal community — whether it’s running a race for the good of mankind, volunteering on a board, or simply coaching one of your children’s little league teams. While we here at the MCBA would like to think we’re your “one and only” (wink!), I know that is not the reality. The point is that you’re doing work that betters the entire community — so why not share it with each other? It may help further the cause or simply show lawyers having fun outside the legal world.

Please tell me what you do and what you’re involved in and send me a photo. Even better…if you’re already posting it to Facebook or Twitter, simply add the following hashtag: #mcbalawyersroc. Why? Because MCBA lawyers do rock in ROC. I don’t have an ounce of objectivity in this statement, but I consider it to be a fact.

As our year is coming to its fiscal end, I’m reminded of how much work our members do for the MCBA, and how much they give back to the entire community under the simple guideline of making the world a better place.

Thanks for all that you do!








The BIG WOW Factor…

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There are weeks at the Monroe County Bar Association that are slower than others, but this has NOT been one of those weeks. This was one of those weeks that makes me step back and say a BIG “WOW, what incredible attorneys we have in Rochester!”

My first BIG WOW came this past Tuesday evening at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity  School, where we gathered for the 6th Annual Young Lawyers Section Silent Auction to benefit Rochester Teen Court. Our extraordinary young lawyers went out and successfully solicited almost 70 gift baskets, and with their own money, purchased some of the contents. With almost 100 people in attendance, they raised more than $14,000. A pretty incredible outcome. I am so very proud of this group of young leaders, lead by Wende Knapp, and their commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy. Her committee members were her YLS Board, along with several very dedicated members. Once again, we should all be grateful to this group of young leaders, and confident, that the future of the MCBA will be in very capable hands.

The Young Lawyers Section Board at the Sixth Annual Silent. Photo courtesy of The Daily Record
The Young Lawyers Section Board at the Sixth Annual Silent.

My second BIG WOW factor was another great day at the Telesca Center for Justice. It is always great when we have an opportunity to come together as the Telesca Center Partnership to share, boast, and tell our collective story of success. Together we have conducted so many tours of the TCFJ, that when I send the email out for a “call to organize a  tour and a lunch” my 5 colleagues know the routine. Sheila Gaddis, Executive Director of Volunteer Legal Services Project; Carla Palumbo, Chief Operating Officer, and Alan Harris, President, Legal Aid Society of Rochester; Lou Prieto, Managing Attorney, LawNY; and Bryan Hetherington, Chief Counsel, Empire Justice Center. So this time, we had the great honor of welcoming New York State Chief Administrative Judge Gail Prudenti to the Telesca Center. This was Judge Prudenti’s first visit and tour, and watching someone take it all in the first time reignites for me the passion I have for all that we have done, and will continue to do at the TCFJ.

Chief Administrative Judge for NYS, Hon A. Gail Prudenti visited the Telesca Center for Justice on Wednesday and met with leaders from the Monroe County Bar Association, Foundation of the Monroe County Bar and the Telesca Center for Justice partners.
Chief Administrative Judge for NYS, Hon A. Gail Prudenti visited the Telesca Center for Justice on Wednesday and met with leaders from the Monroe County Bar Association, Foundation of the Monroe County Bar and the Telesca Center for Justice partners.

Prior to Judge Prudenti, we have welcomed former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, many, many times. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, many New York State Bar Presidents, and even a president of the American Bar Association. We have also welcomed bar leaders from other bar associations, interested in learning more about the Telesca Center for Justice.

We have been sharing our story for almost 9 years now. And I must tell you, it never gets dull. It never gets dull because the story is constantly evolving as a result of the work of my 5 passionate partner peers in the TCFJ: Carla, Alan, Sheila, Bryan and Lou, and what they do is incredible. They are saving lives, saving families, saving homes, saving children, saving victims, and preserving rights. And together, with support from me, the MCBA staff, MCBA Board, Foundation Board, and the Committee and Section Chairs, and all of you, we are all doing great work that we should be very proud of.

The third and final BIG WOW factor for the week was last night as we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program. With more than 60 people in attendance to welcome our 13 1L law students to the Telesca Center for Justice for the first time, it was a very special evening. Once again the Diversity Committee, chaired by Jeff Harradine, has succeeded in presenting another accomplished class of students for the summer of 2014. Following brief remarks from Jeff, Diane Cecero, MCBA President; Fatimat Reid, Rochester Black Bar Association President; and Tiffany Lee, President of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys, the students all took a few minutes to introduce themselves. This “group share” included their name, what firm or organization they are clerking for, their law school and their hometown. For some, it also included whether or not, they had attended the YLS Auction the night before, with a promise to attend next summer’s auction if they did not attend the prior evening’s event. Members from all three bar associations came together to celebrate the success of this award-winning program and the wonderful Class of 2014. Be sure you seize the opportunity to meet them in the weeks and months ahead. Tell them what a great place Rochester is to practice, and assure them that you will be there to support them when they return here to practice in two years.

13 Clerkship students for blog
The Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship 2014 Summer Associates. Photo courtesy of The Daily Record.

The Foundation of the MCB provides a grant annually for one the of 1L law clerks to spend the summer with one of the four legal service partners in the Telesca Center; with an additional grant to the MCB to support the significant administrative aspects of the program, for which we are very grateful.

Though we are not yet there, the Diversity Clerkship Program is beginning to change the face of this legal community. We must all take part in encouraging diversity and inclusion, with the ultimate goal of retention, in all of our places of business. It is a shared responsibility and will make us a better legal community in which to serve your clients.

So three BIG WOW moments this week, and we have 3 more weeks to go yet before the end of the bar year. So many more BIG WOW moments to come, and I hope to see you at many of them with a BIG WOW on your face.

Thanks for checking in,