The Community was loving the lawyers on Saturday…

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For far too long lawyers have felt the dislike and distrust of the public, but not on Saturday as the LGBT Committee, with LGBT members and allies of the Monroe County Bar Association, joined in the Pride Festival and Parade in Rochester.

I had the pleasure of walking with a great group of people, including a wonderful team of supporters, and our sponsor, Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC. The BSK team was represented by Ed and Bridget Hourihan, Bethany Centrone, David Pieterse, and Allyn Van Dusen. In addition, we were joined by Peter Pullano, and members of his family, as well as Scott MacPherson, our LGBT Committee Co-Chair, and others. If anyone is interested in joining the LGBT committee, as an ally or as an LGBT community member, please let us know!

We had a booth at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, that was staffed by MCBA members Richard Link and Greg Franklin, with information about the MCBA and our Lawyer Referral Service. There were lots of great supporters; fellow lawyers, large businesses; and other non-LGBT centered non-profits that were there in the parade and standing along the route. Some of the folks that we saw were: RIT, University of Rochester, LawNY, Mayor Lovely Warren, Supreme Court Candidate, Excellus BCBS, Family Court Candidate Maritza Buitrago, Time Warner, Canandaigua National Bank, Wegmans, Thomson Reuters and others.

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The route stretched from Park Ave to The Strong and lasted about an hour for those of you that do not know, that is 1.7 miles (Thank God my orthopedic was not there). It was amazing to see the crowds of people that lined both sides of the streets. What was even more amazing was to witness the community reaction as we marched down the streets with Ben leading us in chants: love your lawyers, standing up for justice, lawyers love pride (a Bond favorite) and other phrases. Who knew that this public event or any event could create this much of an impact?


People were standing and applauding, “high-fiving” us and creating uproars of cheer. One parade viewer yelled out her lawyers name and said “I do! I love my lawyer. She is Awesome!” And the team at Bond, once again was very engaging and took great care of all of us. Bethany, thank you for bringing brownies to hand out, and Bridget and Ed, I could not have made it without that water. Ben-good job getting everyone active and animated! I knew we would put those cheerleading skills to work.

Whatever the reaction, we had a great presence at an event where more than 10,000 people were in attendance and we got people talking about us, which is excellent.

I know that I have already said it at least a dozen times, but Ben prefers a baker’s dozen, so here is one more thank you to Bond for underwriting everything; helping us raise public awareness of MCBA; and for showing that lawyers DO care about the community.

Thanks for checking in,


Ten Best Places to Eat While Working at the MCBA

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It has been a great five weeks, one day, three hours and 45 minutes since I began working at MCBA but who’s really counting? It’s hard to believe how time has flown. When I first started, I was asked by Liz, “Do you typically bring your lunch or buy it from a restaurant?” My answer was “I typically bring my lunch because I’m a habitual chef and baker.” So about that…. I have yet to bring my lunch…  Do you blame me? Who would bring lunch with all these great places surrounding the MCBA! It’s probably a good thing that I can’t open up these large windows (not to jump) to smell all of the delicious food below. That got me thinking about this week’s blog. How many places have I been to and what are my downtown recommendations?

So here is my list! If you’re at MCBA or around the area, use this list and get some food! (This is in no particular order)

1. Hot Rosita’s (delicious Hispanic food- you can never go wrong with a chalupa)-17 E Main

2Subway (Yep, that’s right, Subway is my blind spot)-

3.The Founders Café (I had a giant salad that was delicious)-13 Fitzhugh St S

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4. Finas Café (By Entercom directly behind WXXI) – I LOVE FINA’s. It has great baked goods, good menu selection and the owner is a wonderful lady.

5. Effortlessly Healthy (Amazing Food Truck) I had this wonderful spinach wrap with avocado. There also is a store front now in South Wedge.

6Sapori Café and Catering (Inside the Powers Building at the top of the stairs)- Great milkshakes but a little pricey for the portion.

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7. Byblos Café Mediterranean Cuisine (I LOVE this place.) I have eaten here multiple times and every time, it is great. The lentil soup is good, I add a little more seasoning because it tastes a little bland at first. The Chicken wrap is delicious and the Gyro is good too.

8. Dinosaur Barbeque (Always a good option.) You can call ahead, walk there, pick it up and eat it at the park—slam dunk (that’s a basketball reference, right?).

9. Joe and Charlie’s Grill- He is so quick and my burger was great! Normally, I never eat “street meat” but Liz and Mary like his food, so I gave it a try. Although Liz and Mary have been eating a stricter meal plan that doesn’t allow it! It’s funny how when I start, everyone diets hmmm.

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10. Lettuce B. Frank– This food truck is a good option for vegetarians, who want something other than a boring salad. I liked it and I commend its efforts. The portions could be larger. As I said above, I am normally a bottomless pit.

I want to try:

Neno’s Gourmet Mexican Street Food- This truck is one of the best that I have contemplated eating. The food looks fresh, the price is inexpensive and the people are great! I only skipped them because I ate at a different, less enjoyable establishment.

Stingray Sushifusion Truck- I LOVE sushi and I have heard great things but I haven’t gotten a chance to visit them when they are near us!

Brick N Mortar- I’m trying to figure out how they fit everything in such a tiny truck. The menu looks large and they have a huge variety. The only reason why I have not gone here is because I never see them downtown!

So there you have it MCBA Blog enthusiasts; my top food places to visit when you’re downtown. And for those negative neds and downer debbies, I did not list places to avoid because everyone has a different opinion and I’d rather just not mention them.

If you have any great restaurants around this area, please let us know.

If you’d like to find a food truck, visit

Until next week,


Lunch with some very special young people…

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of eating lunch with four of our summer Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship students: Stephanie Johnson from Howard University is clerking at Empire Justice Center thanks to a grant from the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar; Ahmed Bilal from University of Buffalo is clerking at the District Attorney’s Office; Mario Roque from Cornell University is clerking at Underberg & Kessler; and Matt Traylor, also from Cornell, is clerking at Ward Greenberg (pictured from left to right below).This was a last minute invitation from me to them and unfortunately the other 4 summer clerks were unable to attend. My own summer schedule is very busy so I do not always have an opportunity to catch up with them. I see my role as selling Rochester, the legal community, and of course, the Monroe County Bar Association.

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It was great to hear about their impressions of Rochester, and positive stories from their firms. One of the questions I asked was whether or not their first year of law school had prepared them for their respective clerkship opportunities? I appreciated their honesty as most said they were not prepared for some of the work they are doing. But I also appreciated that everyone of them stated that in light of that reality, they are receiving great instruction in their firms and organizations, and learning a tremendous amount. For some, the experience provides them insight into practice areas they may have been or not considering, and they are appreciating the opportunity to learn more about this substantive area of law. We then talked about their impressions of Rochester, and how they are spending their downtime. Some have family here, and so are enjoying catching up. All of them are really enjoying getting to know the Rochester legal community, and the community as a whole. I reaffirmed what an incredibly special legal community we do have, one that is actively engaged, one that cares about their colleagues and the profession, and most of all, one that cares about the clients we serve. They are most appreciative to the MCBA, to Diversity Chair, Jeff Harradine, and to Louise Spinelli, Program Coordinator, for our collective work on this program. We hope to welcome many of them back for their 2L summer, and even more for their first year as a practicing lawyer. Thanks for checking in… Mary

The other Diversity Clerkship students, who were not able to attend are Twiesha Vachhrajani (first), Patrice Antoine (second), Jessica Simon (third) and Safa Robinson-Ferrer (fourth).

Twiesha Vachhrajani  patrice anjessica simonsafa

Welcome to the 2015-16 Bar Year!

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Our new MCBA year has begun as of yesterday! So today marks Neil Rowe’s second day on the job, and Steve Modica’s second day of Presidential retirement. It was a great year under Steve’s leadership, and we’re all looking forward here at the MCBA to working with Neil Rowe and President-elect Mark Moretti.

All in attendance seemed to enjoy last Thursday’s Annual Dinner with the installation of our MCBA Board of Trustees and our Foundation Board of Directors; the celebration of our 50 year honorees; and the recognition to our many worthy award recipients – despite the unexpected absence of our keynote speaker Hon. Sol Wachtler due to travel complications.


The next day, our staff did have some downtime as we closed the office early and headed off to Mary’s Serenity Porch for a feast from Sticky Lips!

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But now, with the start of the new year, it is back to the business of the Bar.

As you may have heard, we are in the midst of our “dues renewal season.” Suzanne Ventress is busy processing dues each day – from large law firms to solo practitioners to members of the judiciary. So if you haven’t sent in your dues renewal, please do so today. Dues were *technically” due on Tuesday, June 30, but what’s a technicality? So we’ve extended the deadline for both dues and the two free CLE credits to Friday, July 10, but you must send in both your dues renewal and the registration form for the two free CLE credits that came with your dues. If you need another copy of either, please contact me at

Before we were even done with the 65+ CLEs from this past year, plans were already underway for CLEs in the new year, under the leadership of new Dean of the Academy Cynthia Snodgrass and Program Manager Louise Spinelli. Visit our CLE calendar to see programs already planned. And take a look at our CLE Summer Fest, which is a series of Video Replays every Wednesday starting July 22.

Bar Stop is back! Our next one is scheduled for Thursday, July 16, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at West Edge Restaurant and Grill — a cool new place in Corn Hill Landing. (Actually, I don’t know if it’s “cool” but the new guy Ben says it is, so we’re going with it.) There will be complimentary appetizers thanks to our friends at Canandaigua National Bank. So please stop by and mingle for a few minutes with your colleagues!

West Edge

In addition, our 2015 class of Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Students are in full gear at various firms and organizations. Throughout the summer, there are events and workshops that are being hosted for them so they can meet all of our wonderful attorneys at the MCBA, RBBA and GRAWA, and learn what a great legal community Rochester has.

clerkship orientation
Although we certainly have less meetings over the summer, we still hope you will stop in or that we will see you at an upcoming event. Here’s to a great 2015-16 year!

Thanks for checking in,


Mary’s Top 10 List from the 2014-15 Bar Year

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Another great year is just days away from closing. It is memorable on many levels, but here is my top 10 list:

  • #10 – Meeting interesting people. Today I will be picking up Judge Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge of New York State Court of Appeals, at the airport in preparation for tonight’s Annual Dinner. Judge Wachtler will be sharing his personal story about mental health and the impact on his personal and professional life. I am looking forward to “chauffeuring” the Judge around Rochester over the next 24 hours. I have toured former Chief Judge Judith Kaye through the Telesca Center, as well as current Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, and later this afternoon, I will be touring Judge Wachtler as well.
  • #9 — The production of the film documentary about the always amazing Judge Michael Telesca — ” Dedicated to Justice: Hon. Michael Telesca.” To have come to know this incredible man over the last 10 years and then to see his life story unfold in 30 minutes in his own words was pretty special. Even more special was the “world premiere” at the Strong Museum to a sold-out crowd, with the man himself, Judge Telesca, in the house and enjoying every minute of it. Special thanks to the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar as its producer, Judge Jon Feldman and Steve Modica for their idea to develop the film, Matthew Spaull for making the film, and their collective genius to make it happen.
MCBA President Steve Modica, the Hon. Michael A. Telesca, the Hon. Jonathan Feldman and Matt Spaull at The Strong (National Museum of Play) in Rochester on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.
MCBA President Steve Modica, the Hon. Michael A. Telesca, the Hon. Jonathan Feldman and Matt Spaull at The Strong (National Museum of Play) in Rochester on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.
  • #8 — The Inaugural Judicial Robing Ceremony was a wonderful event to celebrate the important relationship between the Bench and Bar. Celebrating the Honorable John Owens, our new Surrogate, and our newest City Court Judge, the Honorable Leticia Astacio, made this first time event even more special. We could not have made it happen without the support of our dedicated Administrative Judge Craig Doran, who is always a champion of the MCBA.
The Hon. Craig Doran, the Hon. Leticia Astacio and the Hon. John Owens.
The Hon. Craig Doran, the Hon. Leticia Astacio and the Hon. John Owens.
  • #7 — Last summer, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Rochester Diversity Clerkship Program. This award winning program established in Mike Wolford’s term has brought 8 young and diverse 1L law students to Rochester this summer for 10 weeks to experience first hand, our wonderful legal community. Over the years, we have successfully recruited alum of the program to actually join our community upon their admission to the bar. Now we have to work to retain this wonderful talent through improved efforts around inclusion and retention.
  • #6 — Witnessing the love and marriage of two members, Laura Myers (The Wolford Firm) and Curt Johnson (Davidson Fink). They met at Jazz For Justice several years ago in the post party at Abilene’s. I was there the night of the first meeting, and honored to have been in attendance at the moment when they said, “I do!” It was a beautiful day.
  • FullSizeRender#5 — The 5th Annual Jazz for Justice, chaired by the incomparable Elaine Cole, president-elect of the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar, raised just over $30,000 to benefit the many programs funded through grants from the Foundation. JFJ is an incredible collaboration with the musical phenoms at the Eastman School of Music. It is always a great party.
  • #4 — After many years of dialogue, debate and determination, we are finally launching a Health & Well Being Committee to assist attorneys living with stress, work life balance and mental health issues. It is time that we understand, accept and talk about mental health. With the support of Co-Chairs, Bradley Kammholz and Cheryl Heller, we have a committed Task Force, a community partner in place, and a plan to take care of attorneys in need.
  • #3 — Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the creation of the Telesca Center for Justice this year at Law Day complete with birthday cakes. It is so hard to believe that a decade has passed since we started this amazing journey. The ride only gets better and better as we continue to experience new opportunities for collaboration.
  • #2 — Celebrating the impending retirement of my long time (almost the same decade) Executive Assistant, Ginny LaCour. Though she continues to have a blast, Ginny has decided it is time, and will be wrapping up her time at the MCBA at the end of July. It has been bittersweet to watch Ginny on this “decision making” journey, and no, it has nothing to do with the current president making the year too hard. In Ginny’s own words, “It is time!”
  • #1 — The very best part of the  2014-15 bar year was quite simply…Steve Modica, our president. I have known, and worked with Steve, for so many years now, so I thought I knew the kind of president he would be. But in the end, I had no idea what a truly great president he would be. Steve was always accessible, and what I appreciated the most, Steve was open to dialogue. He listened to the opinions of others, including mine, and the staff’s. Steve was dedicated to his term, pushing so hard to make the most of this one year term–and did he ever! Thanks to Steve and Judge Feldman, we have the Telesca film. Thanks to Steve fearless determination and incredible generosity of “seed money”, we are launching the Health & Well Being Program to assist lawyers living with and dealing with mental health issues. Thanks to Steve, we successfully launched the first Robing Ceremony. Thanks to Steve, and his support of Neil Rowe, our president-elect, we are taking a bold step with a new governance structure.


And there it is, my “Top 10″ list for this bar year. Special thanks to all of you for making this another great year. Without you there is no MCBA. After 14 years, your commitment to the MCBA continues to leave me in awe. Thank you for checking in… Mary

Welcoming new MCBA’ers…

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Though I am always sad to see MCBA’ers depart, it presents an opportunity to welcome new MCBA’ers, with new skill sets and personalities. As you know, we are losing Ginny LaCour to a well-deserved retirement fast approaching, not fast enough for Ginny, at the end of July. Stepping in to Ginny’s big shoes is Suzanne Ventress. Suzanne is now in her second week and arriving just in time to learn how to enter membership renewals, coordinate board meetings, register members for events, and keep up with me. Suzanne will be providing administrative support to me and Kathy Fico, Business & Operations Manager.

Already having flown the coup is Dajanee Parrish (now Hoyos), as she has left New York for Delaware in her new married state to Greg Hoyos. The wedding was wonderful, and Dae was beautiful as can be attested by Liz Novak, Diane Hill and me. Before Dae left town, and as dozens of resumes for her position were flowing in to the office, she suggested we talk to a college friend of her’s Ben Freeland. And so we did; and we instantly fell for Ben and all of his talents.

So for today’s blog, I have asked Suzanne and Ben to introduce themselves in their own words. Please take a moment to read about and welcome them to the MCBA. Though we miss Dae, we are very happy for her. And when it comes to saying goodbye to Ginny, well, I am simply not going there yet. WOW, is she ready for this transition as Suzanne is receiving excellent coaching and instruction! Ginny has been building a “transition manual” over the last 3+ years, and this incredible tool will make Suzanne’s job so much easier.

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Ben Freeland

Hello Cyber-lawyers, readers, legal enthusiasts and MCBA members!

I am incredibly excited to join the Monroe County Bar Association as the new Communications Coordinator! I am here to offer support for the MCBA and Foundation communications, membership reinforcement, and special events. Dajanee left big shoes for me to fill but I hope to add to the organization as much as she has and to continue to make MCBA a premiere bar association.

Now for a little about me:

Before joining MCBA, I owned my own communication and public relations business, worked for the Philipson group, which is a creative marketing firm and acted as the Directors Assistant for the Greentopia Festival of Rochester. One of my favorite special event productions was a roaring 20’s themed gala for the Lollypop farm entitled The Great Catsby. It featured period festivities like cigar rolling, live music, silent movies and lawn entertainment. Aside from that, I have worked at Universities, small companies and I have an extremely diverse skill set.

I have been a part of the Rochester community for my entire life and love to give back in any way possible—most recently, I embarked on the Color Run, which is a 5k race and donated my time cleaning up the Genesee Valley Park. I am an outgoing, enthusiastic, energetic person and I hope to meet you all soon! If you ever need anything, ask Mary because I probably won’t be able to answer your question (joke). I am always here to help!

Ben and Suzanne

Suzanne Ventress

Some of you may have spoken to me already. Although I am fairly new, this is my second week as the Executive Assistant and I will be permanently replacing Ginny upon her retirement in July.

Previously to this position, I was the Sr. Assessment Coordinator for Rochester Works, where I worked for two years and was able to build upon a longstanding reputation of excellent client service. Prior to my position at Rochester Works, I was an office manager at Nazareth College. In that role, I organized and supervised the Chartwell Dining Services.

My husband Mark and I live in Spencerport with our son Garrett, who is twelve, and our two tuxedo cats Jackson and Oreo. I love the outdoors, enjoy camping (in a cabin) and I love to photograph everything that is worth sharing with others. I am always here to help and I am only a phone call away.

Monroe County Bar Blog| Bar Association| Law Blog

The Spirit of Collaboration

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This morning at the final meeting of the Foundation Board for this bar year, I witnessed another wonderful moment of collaboration. The Foundation Board had just completed their approval of grants for the bar year at its final board meeting of this fiscal year. One of the more significant grants was for $8,000 towards the new Health & Well Being initiative started by MCBA President Steve Modica, and whole-heartedly supported by Foundation President Bruce Lawrence, and frankly the entire Foundation Board. Upon receiving the grant, Steve then presented a substantial gift to the Foundation as a donation to go towards the Health & Well Being program through the Foundation, from Steve and his wife, Lorrie Modica, also an attorney in Rochester.

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We have been talking about a solution for attorneys dealing with mental wellness issues for years and years. Their issues are different than those responded to by the Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Committee which only supports attorneys dealing with drug and alcohol related issues. Though we all recognize that there can, and will, be cross-over between the two efforts, as quite often people living with depression will self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Likewise, people living drug and alcohol issues frequently deal with bouts of depression.

But here is what will be different this time. This time, we have asked Cheryl Heller and Brad Kammholz, to co-chair this dialogue, and together they have convened a really smart group of compassionate and dedicated members that want to help. We have found a collaborative community partner, Tree of Hope Counseling that will provide us the professional support we need to support those attorneys in need. Tree of Hope is really a collaborative network of private practitioners offering individual, group and family therapy, psychiatry, training, education and consultations. We look forward to rolling out more information and programming details on this really important initiative.

In addition to the Foundation’s support on the Health & Well Being program, they also supported the Diversity Clerkship Program, the Rubin Mock Trial Program, Rochester Teen Court, the DEAFund, Law Explorers, Annual Memorial Ceremony, Solo & Small Firm Resource Center, and another new initiative, Valor Day. Valor Day is a collaborative program between VLSP, LawNY, and the MCBA to bring a host of community and legal resources to one place, Monroe Community College, this Saturday, June 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the benefit of Veterans and their families with many of the issues that face our military families.

If you have not yet sent in your own donation to the Foundation, or have never considered a donation to the Foundation, I would encourage you to consider it now. We are helping attorneys in need, as well as Veterans and military personnel, and guiding the youth of our community in introducing them to our justice system.

Thanks for checking in,