Book Review on Haig’s Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts

Reviewed by Mark J. Moretti, Esq. and Alissa M. Fortuna-Valentine, Esq.

              

After the Third Edition of Robert L. Haig’s Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts treatise added thirty-four new chapters on topics like internal investigations, consumer protection and money laundering to the series, it seemed there was not much subject matter left to cover in future editions.  But Haig has outdone himself again – adding twenty-five new chapters to the Fourth Edition of Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts.  Now spanning fourteen volumes, the Fourth Edition, published in 2016, covers a wide range of new topics, from civil justice reform to declaratory judgments, regulatory litigation to fashion and retail.

The Fourth Edition is truly timely, addressing the needs of a commercial litigator in an ever-changing, modern world.  Reflecting the rapid shift toward a global economy, the Fourth Edition includes more coverage on international topics – international trade and cross-border litigation.  For example, Chapter 22 on cross-border litigation discusses forum selection considerations, including the various advantages and disadvantages of litigating in venues like London, Paris, Hong King, Singapore and Switzerland, and provides guidance on managing discovery before foreign courts and collecting foreign evidence.  Chapter 136 on international trade examines the intricate nature of practice before the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Commission, and the U.S. Court of International Trade, in addition to covering potential state and federal law claims that may be asserted for international trade violations.  Both Chapter 22 on cross-border litigation and Chapter 136 on international trade perfectly supplement related topics from the Third Edition, such as international arbitration, and topics such as immigration, from previous editions.

Reflecting the growing importance and prevalence of social media in the commercial litigator’s practice, the Fourth Edition adds a chapter on social media, complementing its established chapters on document discovery, discovery strategy and privileges, evidence and jury selection.

In addition to its coverage of new and relevant topics facing the modern commercial litigator, the Fourth Edition also adds foundational topics relevant to young and well-seasoned commercial litigators alike, such as marketing to potential business clients and teaching litigation skills.  Chapter 70, “Marketing to Potential Business Clients,” contains critical insights for young commercial litigators, as it provides practical guidance on visibility strategies and methods of communication in marketing – subjects that are not covered by most law schools.  On the other hand, Chapter 71, “Teaching Litigation Skills,” discusses how seasoned commercial litigators can better coach, influence and mold young litigators in areas like oral and written advocacy, fact gathering and factual mastery, emotional intelligence, and credibility.

Importantly, what has not changed through the various editions of Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts is Haig’s ample, yet streamlined coverage of both essential and weighty topics, and provision of practice aids, practical advice and strategic considerations on each topic.  For example, volumes four and five of the treatise, which cover trial practice, can still be used as a refresher on discrete topics for an experienced litigator’s upcoming trial, or as a trial guide for a new litigator’s first trial.

Ultimately, with the Fourth Edition of Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, commercial litigators have a truly comprehensive guide to practice in Federal Court, and an indispensable tool for winning cases – making it the perfect addition to any library.

Mark J. Moretti is a partner at Phillips Lytle LLP, the current President of the Monroe County Bar Association, and a former Chairman of the Trial Lawyers Section of the NYSBA.  Alissa M. Fortuna-Valentine is an associate at Phillips Lytle LLP.

 

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Friends and Festivity: A Time to Celebrate Together

By Kevin Ryan, Esq., Executive Director

This Thursday, members of the bench and of the bar come together for the MCBA’s annual holiday party. Festivities start at 5:30 p.m. at the Wintergarden in Legacy Tower (you know, the old Bausch & Lomb building). We’re expecting a big crowd and hope to see you there.

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This year’s event has a special importance, and not just because it’s my first time. Many of you know that MCBA President Mark Moretti has worked hard to improve the relationship between the local bench and the bar association. Both judges and lawyers are in the business of providing justice for the citizens of the area. Both have a stake in making the courts run smoothly and efficiently. Both have a stake in fostering a productive courtroom environment. Both have to work together daily and surely would prefer amicable rather than tense relations. In short, both judges and lawyers inhabit the same legal community, work in the same space, and depend upon each other in many ways. The holiday party gives us a chance to toast our close professional friendship, our fellowship, our appreciation for the work we do together.

It’s not just litigators who have a stake in bench-bar relations. Every member of the bar benefits from a sound, effective, and professional court system, whether you practice in the Hall of Justice or in your office. The courts provide the framework within which all legal work gets done – just think what would happen to your sales contract, your lease, your corporate documents if the court system collapsed or was roundly rejected by the public. The bar association as a whole also has a significant interest in the judiciary: judges are lawyers, potential members, fellow travelers in the halls (and Hall) of justice. Judges are experts and leaders with much to share. We need judges to sit on our CLE panels, to participate in our events (bringing their staff with them), to sit on committees, boards, and councils, to assist us in improving the law for all. A close, friendly relationship between the bench and bar serves everyone’s interest. We are all, in fact, members of the same legal family.

All family relationships have their moments, of course. Occasionally tensions emerge. When I arrived, we were in one of those “moments.” Fewer judges were joining the bar association, and fewer were encouraging their staff members to join. Fewer judges attended MCBA events, and fewer sat on CLE panels or joined us in board and committee meetings. But this situation, while unfortunate, must be seen as temporary. Close-knit families, like the bench-bar family we inhabit, grow beyond such moments because they recognize the long-term importance of the relationship. And, thanks to Mark’s work and the very positive response from our sisters and brothers in bar and bench, today we look forward to a sounder, more supportive, more collaborative family relationship.

You may know that the MCBA Board approved a moratorium on evaluations of judges running for office while a specially selected task force – headed by past president Steve Modica and filled with representatives from the judiciary, the bar, and, most importantly, the three major political parties – reviews the process and makes recommendations to the MCBA Board. Mark has breathed new life into the Bench-Bar Committee, which sponsored a well-attended “meet and greet” event with me as guest of honor in the Hall of Justice. Today, more judges are participating in bar affairs – sitting on panels and participating in sections and committees – and, while membership numbers have yet to increase, there is reason to think they will, slowly but steadily, over the coming years. The courts have invited the bar to be an early and active participant in discussions about the Excellence Initiative and the rollout of e-filing in Monroe County courts. The judiciary – from Judges Doran and Rosenbaum to the many other judges I have had the pleasure to meet and speak with since my arrival – has welcomed me warmly with a friendliness that speaks to the health of our familial relationship.

The annual Bench-Bar Holiday Party is a great opportunity for judges and lawyers to get together to recognize our mutual commitment to justice, to greet old friends and renew acquaintances, to demonstrate and celebrate our connections with one another. We hope to see you there, whether you wear a robe or not, whether you sit in front of the bench or behind it, no matter what political party you’re in, no matter what you’ve thought about what’s gone on before. Today we are walking together into a more productive and collaborative future. Come help us celebrate!

See you there.

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Short and Sweet

By Kevin Ryan, Esq., Executive Director, MCBA

So Liz, I learn, thinks that my blog posts are too long, too wordy, too scholarly, too filled with big words – in a word, “too.” (OK, that’s not a word, at least not used that way – but it should be.) She may have a point: after all, this is supposed to be a blog, not a treatise or one of those law review articles with more footnotes than text. Yes, it’s true, I tend to wax philosophical, to go scholarly on you. I tend to develop my ideas in my writing, not toss something out there that is, in the words of the Dean of Bar PR, “short and sweet.” And I like to think deep thoughts. Sure enough, that’s probably not the best approach to blog writing, no matter how much it displays who I am. It’s just “too.”

Then I imagine the following conversation.

Ms. Short says: “Hey Kev, it’s not just your blogs that go on and on until all focus and consciousness is lost. Want to know something else that is ‘too’? Those long, long events filled with talking heads, awards, and not enough wine to ease the pain. Bar associations – or at least a certain generation of bar leaders – like such things, perhaps because they fit the image of professional events embraced by the Boomers and their parents. Follow a reception with a dinner and ruin (er, accompany) dessert with a program. The program features a passel of notable bar leaders (presidents, famous folk, partner types) all talking (too long) about each other, patting each other on the back, giving each other awards (and throwing in a stray young lawyer or poverty lawyer for good measure and good PR), and sucking the air out of the room as they drone on and on.”

Ms. Short goes on: “What if we decided to explode this old, tired concept of a bar event? What if we decided to liven things up, to cut the speeches (which nobody pays much attention to anyway), hand out awards without expecting (permitting) lengthy accolade-laden speeches from the presenters or ‘I want to thank everybody I’ve ever met’ speeches filled with plenty of mock humility from the recipients?”

Before she can go on, Mr. Sweet, clearly loving this exercise, jumps in: “What if we got people up and moving and away from their plates of banquet chicken? What if we made the events really fun and not just ‘that was a nice event’ (kind-speak for ‘that was as dull as ever’)? Imagine the possibilities! Mingling and hanging out. Some fun video clips and catchy music. Dance. An award or two, given without all the pomp and circumstance of the usual awards ceremony (no Elgar, no traipsing up the steps to the stage, no tedious speeches). Opportunities right there to do something for the community – things that bring the profession into the limelight in a positive way rather than all that self-congratulation, things like a clinic for the elderly or veterans or teachers. Tweeting!! [Now I have Liz’s attention.] Snapchatting!!! Live links to others who aren’t there through Periscope or Facebook Live, turning it into a true legal community event. Too cool!!!!”

Inspired, Ms. Short interrupts: “You could even throw in some ‘outside the box’ CLE programs before or after. Or do some cool tech demos. Or some TED talk presentations. But the key is, ‘short.’”

Mr. Sweet, not to be outdone, simply says: “Sweet!”

Is it time to be short and sweet?

First, Let’s Kill All Those Shallow Interpretations of Shakespeare

By Kevin Ryan, Esq.

You know that quotation from Shakespeare about killing all the lawyers? What are we to make of it? Critics of the legal profession (serious or half-joking) love to trot the phrase out to lend pedigree to their view that lawyers are all highly paid sharks bent on enriching themselves by impoverishing others, making everything worse (except their own bank accounts) through protracted litigation. Is there something bad and unwholesome about modern life? Well then, say the critics, blame it on lawyers. The phrase pops up at parties and political rallies, in the mouths of wannabe wits and candidates for office. The Eagles even stuck the line in a song, evidently because it captured Don Henley’s feelings towards people who look for a quick injection of cash for imagined injuries and the lawyers who take those cases to court. Even in Elizabethan times, so the critics would have it, lawyers were despised as mongrels seeking to steal your money through Machiavellian maneuverings. Generally, one hopes, these critics don’t really want to kill lawyers, let alone all of them, let alone “tonight,” as Henley’s lyrics urge. But they do want to convey the thought that the world would be a better place without lawyers, that there’s something sleazy, dirty, unsavory about the profession. And if you are in the legal profession, you’ve been overexposed to the phrase, often by acquaintances testing the waters of your sense of humor – you know the sort: a poke in the ribs, a wry smile, a comment about your line of work, “Shakespeare said we should kill all the lawyers,” ha-ha-ha.

From what we know of his life, it is likely that Shakespeare himself did not have particularly positive relationships with lawyers and the legal system: both he and his father were perpetually being dragged into court for one reason or another. Still, the idea that getting rid of lawyers would improve humankind is shallow and ignorant (we should not have to recite all the benefits lawyers have brought to us over the centuries) – and we should be very wary of attributing such an idea to a writer universally appreciated for his depth and intelligence.

The legal profession – filled with well-educated and competitive sorts – has not stood by while the quip from Shakespeare gets bandied about. And so we get the other side. Many employ the phrase in order to turn it on its head, using it as part of a defense of lawyers. The pro-lawyer faction wants us to consider not the words themselves, but the context in which they appear. The actual phrase is: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” and it’s from King Henry VI, Pt. II. You’ve read the play? No, you probably haven’t, for it’s not one of the Bard’s best loved works. (Yes, I have, since you asked.) One wag even commented that the play would have been entirely forgotten had it not been for this one line; that’s probably too strong, but there’s no doubt this play is seldom read, let alone performed. Anyway, Shakespeare, as literate readers know, put this phrase into the mouth of a villain, Dick the Butcher, a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who hoped to become king by disrupting the social order.

And there you have it – the makings of an alternative interpretation, one in which context makes all the difference. Justice John Paul Stevens, in Walters v. Nat’l Assn. of Radiation Survivors (1985), gave classic expression to this view: “As a careful reading of that text will reveal, Shakespeare insightfully realized that disposing of lawyers is a step in the direction of a totalitarian form of government.” Shakespeare, Justice Stevens believes, is telling us that eliminating lawyers permits tyrants to run amok on the rights and liberties of people; that’s why the Bard put the words into the mouth of a bad guy, a rebel, an anarchist. Shakespeare, we are subtly invited to conclude, knew the fundamental value of lawyers to civilization. Thus, far from being an attack on the profession, the exchange serves as a not-too-subtle defense of law and those who practice it against those who would establish tyranny (or, worse, anarchy – if you could establish anarchy).

But is this really any better than the crude “Shakespeare as lawyer-hater” interpretation? Having spent many of my (many) years in the groves of academe, I can hear the teeth-gnashing that this interpretation provokes. The Bard has been the victim, perhaps more than any other writer, of people hijacking a phrase here and a phrase there (like this one about lawyers) in order to enlist him in support of whatever position they want to espouse. I think it’s a fair observation about lawyers that, of all professional groups, they may be one of the most likely to commit this offense. Further, interpreting great literature (the teeth-gnashers would say) is a difficult, controversial, and endless endeavor. (Yes, I know: the notion of “great literature” is pretty darn fuzzy and controversial itself). And Shakespeare is notoriously challenging to interpret: library shelves are filled with competing attempts to explain the “meaning” of his works, and the Shakespeare industry rumbles on into the twenty-first century unperturbed by the passage of time. How can we know for certain what he meant, especially in a relatively obscure line in an even more obscure play?

But inconclusiveness of interpretation aside, Justice Stevens’s use of Shakespeare suffers from a host of difficulties. For one, it is painfully anachronistic. Shakespeare would’ve had no idea what a “totalitarian form of government” might be – in fact, it’s not clear that we do either, given the ongoing disputes among scholars about exactly what totalitarianism is and isn’t. Writing hundreds of years before the 20th century (and without the “benefit” of all that scholarship), Shakespeare could have had no inkling of the depth to which dictatorial power could extend into the everyday lives of people. He was aware of the force of royal absolutism: Queen Elizabeth was not reluctant to use her power to destroy her internal enemies (both religious and political), and her successor, King James I, did have grand visions of himself as an “absolute” ruler. But neither came close to being a totalitarian dictator: Elizabeth was not Hitler in skirts; royal power, even under the assertive James, did not come close to extending its tentacles deep into the everyday lives of individuals; and, in any event, James I ruled some years after Shakespeare wrote Henry VI, Pt. II. In short, Shakespeare could not have been saying anything about totalitarian government at all.

Even assuming we could agree (which, as I say, we can’t) on what “totalitarian government” is – that it’s something like Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union – then we have to recognize the part played by lawyers in those very systems. Had it not been for the work of thousands of lawyers, those systems could not have functioned. And so the proper contrast may not be between totalitarianism on the one hand and the presence of lawyers on the other, as Stevens would have it, but between two kinds of systems, both of which make use of legal professionals (albeit in somewhat different ways). But that is not nearly so gratifying a portrait of lawyers as the Stevens camp likes to paint.

And finally, returning to the play itself, does it make any sense at all to refer to Cade and his anarchist henchmen as proponents of “totalitarian government”? Isn’t it rather the case that they proposed the elimination rather than the expansion of government? As for Shakespeare, he seems, if anything, to have been more disturbed by the threat of chaos represented by Cade and his band of thugs than worried about the prospect of a state that sees no limits to its power and that seeks to control every aspect of public and private life. He was, to be sure, wary of the royal power to shut him down (or worse), but it was the existing system that came closer to total power than anything the rude peasants tagging along with Cade might construct. If the views espoused by Dick the Butcher lay out a contrast to the rule of law, it depicts a world without law of any sort, not a world of total control by government.

Thus, even when we read the famous phrase in context, it is not all that clear what that context tells us. And it certainly doesn’t give us much insight into Shakespeare’s own views. Despite the comfort Justice Stevens offers a profession frequently laughed at, criticized, and even vilified, his interpretation of Shakespeare seems no sounder than those he opposes. Reading Shakespeare with Stevens may make us feel good, but that is hardly an appropriate standard of truth (certainly, we don’t use it as a standard in most other aspects of our lives). We may gain a feeling of superiority over those (other) “shallow” readers who cite the passage as if Shakespeare was endorsing the idea it expresses. But when examined more closely, this interpretation isn’t much deeper: it too just seems to be a way to snatch a line out of a play and make it mean whatever you want it to mean. And that, I suggest, falls short of the standards not just of critical interpretation, but of our profession as a whole.

Welcoming new MCBA’ers…

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!

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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

LIKE IT FORWARD

LIKE IT FORWARD

Many years ago when I interviewed to become your Executive Director, I asked Michael Dwyer, President at the time, to identify one of the primary functions of the MCBA. He responded, judicial candidate evaluations. What I learned that day, and in the 13+ years since, is that the Monroe County Bar Association views the judicial candidate evaluation process as a resource to inform the political parties as they determine their candidates and for the public as they cast their votes.

So in case you missed it, the judicial evaluation survey is out there right now. It was released to more than 3,000 attorneys in the 7th Judicial District, on February 10th. It will remain open and accessible until February 24th at 5:00 pm.

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It is a significant year: 6 candidates for Supreme Court, 3 candidates for Family and 1 candidate for City Court.

Those judges and attorneys being evaluated (in alphabetical order by Court) are the following:

NYS Supreme Court
Hon. Craig J. Doran
Gary Muldoon, Esq.
Matthew D. Nafus, Esq.
Hon. James J. Piampiano
Judith A. Sinclair, Esq.
Hon. William K. Taylor

Monroe County Family Court
Maritza C. Buitrago, Esq.
Gary Muldoon, Esq.
James A. Vazzana, Esq.

Rochester City Court
Hon. Stephen T. Miller

The response to the survey to date has been strong. To encourage all to participate, we have provided several reminders, links in the eDocket, notice in the Daily Record, 2 additional releases since the original release on the 10th, and now this blog. By the time this blog hits, a 3rd release will have happened this morning, with the final scheduled for next Monday.

In addition, we have notified the administrative offices within the mid-to-large firms, as well as the Courts, to communicate to their employees that the survey is out there, and if anyone has not yet received it, and is interested in responding, that they check their SPAM files, and if still not able, to contact Liz Novak, Communications & Membership Manager, at lnovak@mcba.org, who is able to assist everyone that calls her. Staff is on high-alert to respond promptly to members and non-members that want to complete the survey. We take this process very seriously, and are most attentive to it.

The Judiciary Committee, chaired by the dedicated Jennifer Sommers, will then convene to do their part, results will be made public, and we will begin the communication phase of getting the word out to the media, and through social media.

But I wish to remind you that you as practicing attorneys also have a role in this process. First, if you practice in the courts, then you should take the time to respond to the survey. If for any reason, your email address is not current with us, or your firewall blocked the survey, keep us updated on your email changes. In addition, talk to your IT folks about firewall issues. On these two points, the issues are out of our control.

Second, we need your assistance on spreading the word once the ratings are final, as well as before the elections. Our “Crack Communications Team” works very hard at putting the results out through the media and repeatedly through our many social media outlets. As the saying goes, “Like It Forward” to your family, friends, non-attorney colleagues, neighbors, butchers, accountants, sitters, doctors, dentists, in-laws, and the list is long. Please help us spread the word. The MCBA has a great team of communicators, but quite honestly, it cannot all be left to a 2-person team.

If you agree with me, then “Like It Forward” with this blog, and in the future on this topic. If you don’t agree with me, then call me and tell me what you think. I am committed to this process but I am asking for your help. Your role needs to go beyond spending 5 minutes completing the evaluation.

Please join me in “Liking It Forward”…

Stay warm and safe during these beautiful snowy days! I feel spring in the air…

Mary

The birds woke me up….again

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?
Mary

 

Social Media — It’s not just a fad…

I know when Facebook was first born, I had some rules in my own house about when the kids could establish their own account. Like cell phones, I was always very conservative about giving permission too early. Brian did not get his first phone till he was driving at 16. But to have some fun with him that Christmas, I first gave him a walkie-talkie, and when he was crushed at not opening a package with a cell phone, I demonstrated how cool it would be that we would each have our walkie-talkie’s strapped onto our pants so we could reach each other at any time — afterall, he was never more than a mile away, and the talkies had a 3 mile radius on them. I allowed the teasing to go on for another 20 minutes or so before he opened the package with the real cell phone. Once again, I claimed the title of “great mom”.

In high school, they would not “friend me” on Facebook, however, I always made certain they would friend one of my brothers, who they thought were cool, and my 4 younger brothers ALWAYS knew when to report into their older sister about the actions of one of my children. Obviously, I reciprocated for them as their children came of age.

Once the kids arrived to college, it was much cooler to friend your parents, and so I was granted this very precious right. However, it came with rules – “Mom, please don’t say anything embarrassing and no embarrassing photos either!” Of course, I have broken that rule a few times but have been pretty good for the most part.

So one of the social media platforms I have yet to conquer is “Tweeting” – no, not twerking — that will never happen! With my “Twitter Tip Sheet” in front of me, I was sitting in a CLE yesterday on presentation skills. I took a photo of the speaker, MCC Professor Ilene Benz, and tweeted out what a great program it will be. I was quite proud of myself, as I have been determined to master this Twitter world. When I arrived upstairs, Communications Manager Liz Novak complimented my tweet, but suggested that next time I tweet as “Mary Loewenguth” not as the “MCBA.” Geez, really — thanks for the positive affirmation of this first step Liz.

This experiment followed a lively presentation at Tuesday’s Board meeting in which the Communications Team, Liz Novak and Dajaneé Parrish, provided a tour of the MCBA’s various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. We started with a great message from Liz Novak about how communications with members has changed. Liz reported that:

Social Media is the direction Bar Associations are headed in. This is demonstrated simply by seeing how the programming at various Bar workshops and conferences has changed. It’s a reflection of how the landscape of communications has changed; and the landscape is comprised of social media.

And because of this changing landscape, our own communications here have changed. We moved away from print and towards e-communications, supplemented by social media.

At the meeting, with a show of hands, we learned that about half of the Trustees are on Facebook, more of them are on LinkedIn, and a few are on Twitter. One of the challenges of social media is trying to determine which medium you use for what purpose. From a past ABA Conference, we adapted a very cool tool that easily differentiates the best uses of the different social media platforms. And since we serve so many sub sandwiches here at the MCBA for both meetings and CLE’s, we decided to personalize this tool in a way that you can relate.

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Social Media is not a fad as many people continue to think. Social media is a part of society and it’s time that we (baby boomers) adapt this attitude. The fastest growing age bracket on Facebook is 45-54 and on Twitter the fastest growing age bracket is 55-64.

I challenge everyone to join or get involved in at least one social media platform:

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“Like” our Monroe County Bar Association page on Facebook, as well as the Young Lawyers Section page to get all of the latest updates and an inside look into MCBA events, programs and socials.

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Follow us on Twitter – @MCBA_NY for breaking MCBA news.

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Join the  Monroe County Bar Association Group page on LinkedIn to connect with other MCBA members and to engage in a dialog within the legal community.

Join and see what it can do for you – besides checking out your child’s latest “relationship status.”

Guest Post by Liz Novak: MCBA Website — Where do we go from here?

We’re looking at revamping, re-skinning, redoing our website. Whatever you want to call it, the bottom line is that we’re looking at making some significant changes to it.

The last redo of our website was about 4 years ago and it suited what we were trying to accomplish at that time. But I think websites might age like dogs – so that means that redesign was nearly a lifetime ago.

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Sure we’ve made some tweeks and additions over the years but it’s always good to look at a website every few years and reevaluate – are we providing a resource to our members?

I was doing a little research on website trends, and words like responsive design, parallax scrolling, flat web design, and others that sound good in theory, but like skinny jeans, don’t translate into my actual daily life.

While I agree (as an iphone/ipad junkie) that being responsive to various devices – smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop – is important for folks to access a website and not get completely annoyed with the super small type that you have to manually (literally) enlarge, I also believe we overcomplicate things and that simpler is better.

What’s the information our members want from our website on a regular basis? What do they need? And what aren’t we providing that maybe we can be providing?

But maybe I’m wrong…I’m no tech guru. I live with one, but I’m not one. (Actually, he wants to be referred to as a tech guru genius, but I can only take it so far). My best answer to all things technology related – whether it’s a website not working properly, my email, etc – is to reboot.

So rather than us assume or simply go with the trends being published, we want to hear from you. And Mary takes it personal that no one responds to our blog – so I’m asking, can you please respond to the survey below. The survey will also be posted on Facebook and our homepage.

Click here to take survey

It’s 10 questions that takes less than 5 minutes, and I appreciate you taking the time to do so!

Thanks for checking in…

Liz

P.S. And if you never want to miss an installment of the Bar View, feel free to click the orange “follow” button at the bottom left (which means it will show up in your email inbox) or make it a favorite.

People in our lives that mentor us in the moment….

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My first mentor was my mom. She was a wife, mother of 6, and manager of our universe. Mom worked part-time, and managed us full-time. In the early years that my Dad started his business, his office was in the basement, and my mom was his secretary. I remember her “shushing” us if the phone rang — then she’d answer:  “R.G. Loewenguth Co., may I help you…” As I look back on it — this was pretty amazing because she was doing this while changing diapers, making sandwiches, preparing dinner and more.

My grandmother, Marian McGlynn Ryan, was the Administrative Office Manager for the Monroe County Republican Party. Nana had also raised 6 children, but worked full-time. I recall going to the office with her to stuff envelopes, and would sit in awe of my grandmother. She was a woman ahead of her time.

Graduating from Nazareth Academy, class of ’77, this all-girls, Catholic school, gave me many gifts. The two primary ones were confidence and opportunity. My guidance counselor, Sr. Elizabeth Conheady, became a great confidant and mentor to me through my high school years. When I considered running for class president junior year, she encouraged and cheered me on, along with another teacher, Kristin Malone. They both had faith in me, and I won that race, and went on to win again senior year. With Sr. Elizabeth’s early encouragement, I charged forward, and life got started.

My first job was with Howard Taylor & Company (mortgage broker) where I had the good fortune to work directly for Marty Larimer Tessoni (Yes, sister to our very own Judge David Larimer). Like her older brother, Marty was dedicated and professional to the extreme, but always with a great sense of humor. Our boss, Howard Taylor, was a very spirited, hard-driving man, and so Marty was an incredible balance for me. She taught me to laugh when things were difficult.

From there I went on to St. Mary’s Hospital where I was surrounded by incredible women, some on campus, and some off. The late Sister Ann Williams was president upon my arrival, and though running this major institution, stopped in to the Office of Public Relations every morning to see how her new hire was doing, and she stopped in on her way out at night. Never a day went by without some pearl of wisdom, whether personal or professional. As I arrived at St. Mary’s, one of Rochester’s PR legacies was leaving to forge new adventures, Ruth Morris, now Ruth Myers as a young and very green PR professional; I would stand in awe of Ruth, and the cool calmness with which she did her job. From Ruth I learned about how to open my mind to more creative thinking.

While at St. Mary’s, I also met Vivian Cunningham, a nurse practitioner, and Kash Caravetta, a social worker. Viv began to show me how life as a working mom would work, and the consummate professional. Kash, hired to open a detox program, spent her day counseling young and beautiful women that had come off the streets as prostitutes, and were surrendering their life to Kash in hopes of a new start. I learned lessons in compassion from Kash. Kash also remains a constant in my life, though now from Santa Fe.

I then moved to Virginia and assumed the title of Director of Marketing at Allegheny Regional Hospital. It was there that I had my three children, and was a very busy working mom. In Virginia, there was an old woman named, Anna. Anna lived several houses down, and we would sit and talk for hours. Anna was a simple woman, with an 8th grade education, and yet the wisdom of a professor of philosophy. She would quiz me on some of my experiences, and challenge me as to my thinking and decisions. Always ended our visits with a sweet hug, and a “you’re doing good honey!”

Upon returning to Rochester, I reconnected with many old friends. One of them was an old college classmate, Dawn Borgeest. Dawn and I finished at St. John Fisher, and I believe is one of the most talented and creative minds in Rochester. When I have a particularly challenging situation, or need a new perspective, Dawn is one of the people I call. Dawn has given me many gifts, but one of them is learning how to be direct, the right way. Problem is, we simply do not see enough of each other.

In the Executive Director world there are many women that I call on because I respect them, their opinions, their work ethic, both in and out of the bar world. One of my first bar world mentors was Kathie Bifaro, the Executive Director of the Erie County Bar. Kathie is an example of cool, calm professional. Kathie is just a phone call away, and sometimes our calls are less than 5 minutes. I call and say, “I need your counsel…”. Kathie has 30+ years experience in this world, and has seen it all. Julie Armstrong, the Indianapolis Bar Executive Director, is another person that I sometimes just sit back to watch and learn.

When I first started at the Monroe County Bar Association, Hanna Cohn was the VLSP Executive Director, and Secretary of the MCBA Board. I had the privilege of knowing, working and observing Hanna for 3 months before she died. But during those few months, I called her frequently about everything from management to governance questions, and she ALWAYS had the answer.

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One of my primary bar mentors is Elizabeth Derrico, bar genius extraordinaire. Elizabeth has guided me for the last 12+ years, and is the person I call when stuck in my head with a situation. She asks the right questions, and helps me discover the answers, that in the end, were already there.  I have been most fortunate to have great presidents that I learn from every year. Including my current president, Diane Cecero. Diane is great at asking questions, and I am finding I need to slow down and think about the answers in a different way than I perhaps have in the past.

As Hillary Clinton once said, “it takes a village”, and for me, there has been a small village of women and men that have molded, guided, re-directed, knocked me upside the head, told me yes, told me no, laughed with me, and cried with me over the years.I would not be who I am, or where I am today without having been touched throughout my life by this group of extraordinary people. What I have learned from them over the years would fill volumes. The gifts they gave me are permanently affixed in my soul.

One of the things they all gave me was the gift of time. They gave me moments! It may have been my call they took, or the offer of coffee, breakfast, lunch or wine, or just a walk. But they all said YES to me, and that has made all the difference in my life.

So my question for you, who has made a difference in your life? Have mentors been in your life? If so, are you paying it forward? If not, why not? And if not, here are some ways in which you can mentor through the MCBA.

Mentor for the Moment — this new program is intended to establish a convenient way for young and lawyers in transition, to reach out to more seasoned lawyers for questions, counsel, and wisdom. We have dozens of lawyers that have signed up to mentor. We will be hosting a Mentoring Launch Party to get this initiative launched so stay tuned for more details. I invite any seasoned attorneys to join the program as a mentor, and I invite any young lawyers or lawyers in transition to join us  a mentee, and to take advantage of this wonderful program.

Lawyers for Learning — this award-winning program is now 20 years old, and the challenges faced by the district and the school are so much greater than 20 years ago. There was a time when we had over 100 mentors at School #29 every week, and now this number is less than 40 mentors. That means more than 60 children are not being given the advantage of children 20 years ago. Please consider mentoring for this program this upcoming school year.

Writing this blog has forced me to re-evaluate how I am paying it forward. Am I doing enough? Where can I do more? I know, we are all VERY BUSY.

Please give some thought to bringing your gifts to someone who may benefit from them.

Thanks for checking in…

Mary