Playing nice in the sandbox…

A life lesson that we begin to learn at a young age is how to play nice in the sandbox with our friends. I believe some mothers and fathers pass this lesson on better than others. But I do believe that all the mothers and fathers of all of the presidents of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (GRAWA), the Rochester Black Bar Association (RBBA), and the Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA), did an excellent job of passing on this life lesson to their young children, and future bar presidents.

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Yesterday, the three bar presidents, Tiffany Lee, GRAWA President, and Jill Paperno, GRAWA President-Elect; Fatimat Reid, RBBA President, and Aaron Frazier, RBBA President-Elect; Steve Modica, MCBA President, and Neil Rowe, President-Elect; Margaret Sanchez, GRAWA’s Administrator and me all met over lunch.

We started these meetings several years ago, with the intent to meet quarterly. But as life in the bar world goes for all the presidents — life as a bar president becomes very busy. We have been unsuccessful on the quarterly goal, but we still manage to stay in touch, and obviously see each other at all of the respective bar events.

Typically we each bring a topic or two to the table, but yesterday, our primary conversation was about our Rochester Diversity Clerkship Program. Both the RBBA and GRAWA have participated and supported this program since the very beginning. We had a very good discussion about the values of the program, and also discussed some of the challenges. All agreed, more dialogue on the improvement of diversity in the Rochester legal community is critical.

In addition, we always have a number of topics on our agenda including judicial evaluations, topics from the courts, and other matters raised by any of the three bars. Yesterday Steve also shared that we are beginning some dialogue about assistance for attorneys dealing with depression and mental health issues. Currently, these challenges are not being addressed by our Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Committee, as they are not equipped or informed enough to deal with depression and mental health issues. All agreed this was a most important issue for our entire legal community, and one that all of the bar leaders want continued dialogue.

We all concluded at the end that we are very fortunate in Rochester to have this kind of positive, collaborative relationship with each other. There is not a sense of competition, but instead an incredible commitment to cooperation, collaboration and mutual support. Little known fact, we are all members of the respective bars. And a very special celebration will occur this Saturday evening, when we all gather to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Rochester Black Bar Association at the Convention Center. We are very proud of the RBBA, their leaders, their membership and their many successes and contributions to the practice of law in Rochester over the past 20 years. Most of all we look forward to their continued success and all that the future holds for the RBBA.

Together, GRAWA, RBBA and the MCBA make Rochester a great place to practice law.

Thanks for checking in,
Mary

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