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.
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.
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.
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,