Thoughts From Our Incoming Leaders

Hello Bar View readers! I know that it has been a while since our last post but things have been busy.

There are only a few months remaining until we pass the torch and swear in our new MCBA and Foundation leadership… but who is counting, right? We have been through many changes this year and are looking forward to our working with the MCBA’s new Executive Director (that blog is coming soon).

Many of you may already know our incoming MCBA President Mark Moretti and our incoming Foundation President Elaine Cole, but this post should help you learn a bit more about them and their vision for the MCBA and the Foundation.

Mark Moretti, 2016-17 MCBA President


Mark Moretti received his Juris Doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 1978 and currently practices in the areas of commercial, tort, construction and real property litigation, and property tax, title issues and condemnation. Moretti joined Phillips Lytle in 1980 and since then has been listed on Best Lawyer’s in America and Upstate New York, Super Lawyers and was named as Best Lawyer of the Year for 2012 in Construction Litigation. He also serves in the NYSBA House of Delegates and is a fellow of the American Bar and New York State Bar Foundations.

Please take a look at our Question and answer session below:

What is your Vision for the Bar?
My vision for the MCBA is one where all members of our legal community work together collaborating for the good of the profession we have chosen; making this community one in which justice for all is served; and to make the profession respected and appreciated by our community.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to the MCBA in the coming year and how do you plan to improve it?
Certainly one of the biggest challenges is to integrate our new Executive Director into the MCBA. After having Mary Loewenguth as Executive Director for more than 14 highly successful years, we are very pleased to welcome Kevin Ryan as our new Executive Director. It’s always a challenge to follow a highly accomplished leader, but I’m confident that Kevin brings his own unique skills and strengths to the table, and will be very successful. One of my main goals is to lay the foundation to put him in a position to succeed for many years to come.

Why did you decide to take this role at the MCBA?
I’m one of those individuals who has for many years been interested in the work of Bar Associations, both the NYSBA (where I formerly served as Chair of the Trial Section and continue to serve on its Executive Committee and for many years in the House of Delegates) and in work of the MCBA where I have served as Chair of several Committees and as a Trustee, Treasurer, and President-Elect. I enjoy it because lawyers and judges are involved, not for personal financial gain, but rather because they understand and appreciate the fact that the practice of law is a very special and distinguished profession and the vehicle by which each of us, in performing our own roles, serves justice and the greater good of our society.

What do you like to do outside of the Bar for fun?
I enjoy poker, swimming, pickleball, boating, fishing and reading as activities outside of the Bar Association and work. But, I must admit that I also still enjoy the excitement of representing people and entities in solving problems and developing and implementing a litigation strategy which prevails for them.

Elaine Cole, Foundation of the Monroe County Bar, President, 2016-17

Cole, Elaine
Elaine Cole attended the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and was admitted to practice in 1978. Cole served as the District Tax Attorney at the New York State Department of Taxation for over 22 years, and retired from this position in 2012. She is a past Chair of GRAWA’s Nominating and CLE Committees, a past Co-Chair of GRAWA’s Program Committee and championed the Foundation’s Jazz for Justice Campaign in both 2011 and 2012.

Read the Question and answer session below to learn more about Elaine:

What do you hope to happen during your time as President on the Foundation?
Thanks to the great leadership of Bruce Lawrence, the Foundation has completely rewritten its bylaws, launched a planned-giving initiative with all the other Telesca Center partners, and refocused our investment strategy.  That incredible list of accomplishments clears the way for our Directors to concentrate on our mission:  raise money to fill the unmet legal needs of our community.  The Foundation receives very generous contributions from approximately 10% of MCBA members.  But we need the support of the other 90%.  We know they are equally generous, but they are not receiving the message about the impact the Foundation’s grants have made.  So, my goal is to dramatically increase the number of supporters by getting our message out there.

What excites you about your new role at the Foundation?
Does being terrified constitute excitement?  I am following recent dynamic presidents, such as Judge Elizabeth Wolford, Audrey Peartree, and Bruce Lawrence.  While I feel that I cannot come close to their accomplishments, I am excited to take the Foundation to a higher level of awareness and participation by our terrific Bar members.

How would you encourage creative thinking within the Foundation?
Our Directors are talented and committed, but we’re not expert fundraisers.  So, we have begun to use outside consultants to give us the guidance we need to do our best work.   We will use the advice we receive to stimulate ourselves, and encourage each other, to think of approaches unique to each of us, to reach our colleagues.

What do you do outside of the Bar for fun?
Working with the incredibly talented people in our Bar is fun!  But, now that my husband I are retired, we travel both in and outside the country, often in the company of our family and friends.  We spend much of the winter in Florida, and love the fresh seafood all around us.  I golf VERY BADLY, so the company of my golfing buddies has to supply the fun on the course.

Thank you to Mark and Elaine for sharing some of their thoughts on their upcoming leadership roles. We look forward to seeing many of you on Thursday, June 23 in the evening when both Mark and Elaine will be installed as Presidents of their respective organizations.

Thanks for checking in

Ben Freeland

Welcoming Our New Attorneys

By Liz Novak Henderson

At yesterday’s Admission Ceremony, nearly 70 new lawyers from the 7th Judicial District were admitted to the 4th Department. While I wasn’t able to be at the ceremony, based on past years, I can bet that excitement was all around as these bright, young diverse lawyers were officially admitted to practice law.

On hand, we had MCBA President Neil Rowe, Curtis Johnson, Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, Jennifer Tarolli, Co-Chair of Membership for the YLS Board, and Merritt Smith, Marketing Specialist and YLS liaison from the MCBA, to help connect with and encourage these new attorneys to join the MCBA, if they hadn’t already. In addition, we will be reaching out by mail to those new admittees who have yet to join the MCBA, and encourage them to get involved.

And we do have a number of ways for new attorneys to get involved with the MCBA and its Young Lawyers Section over the next couple of months.

On Wednesday, January 27, starting at 6 p.m., the Young Lawyers Section will be hosting its third Annual Newly Admitted Attorney Night at the Amerks. And thanks to underwriters like Counsel Press, The Daily Record, and Kammholz Messina, LLP, admission to the game is FREE with complimentary appetizers (albeit, there is a cash bar). Click here for more information on how to sign up. And let me be clear, it’s an opportunity for Monroe County attorneys to meet new admittees, and new admittees to meet our attorneys. All are welcome – whether you are young in age or young at heart.

YLS Tickets

And starting on Tuesday, February 16, the Young Lawyers Section and the Academy of Law are collaborating on a Practice Development Series. Co-chaired by Michael Geraci and Katerina Kramarchyk, the series has been developed to help newly-admitted attorneys fulfill their first or second year CLE requirements while being beneficial for other attorneys in all areas beyond their first biennial registration.

There are three parts to the series:

  • Part I: Cost Effective Legal Research – February 16
  • Part II: Effective Communication Skills – Avoiding Communication Blunders & Managing Expectations – March 3
  • Part III: The 12 Most Common Mistakes Made by Attorneys – March 16

With great speakers and topics, it’s an outstanding series that can be of benefit to attorneys across practice areas, office settings and years in practice. Click here for registration information.


The Young Lawyers Section is a busy, active group and today it boasts 175 members–and each year around this time, the section gets an influx of new admittees when they join the MCBA and the Young Lawyers Section. The Young Lawyers are a section that always welcomes other bar members (new or seasoned) to its events. Take advantage of your membership and come to one of the above events, and consider bringing a new lawyer with you or meet one at the event. If you’re a chair of a committee or section, or are simply a member who knows a few new lawyers, encourage them to get involved in the MCBA. Our new lawyers need encouragement and support as they venture out as practicing attorneys. Remember, they are the future of this Bar.

Thanks for checking in.



Thank you for the privilege…

Several weeks have passed since the announcement about my impending departure from the Monroe County Bar Association. I have accepted a new position as Clerk of Court for the Western District of New York effective January 4th. In the weeks since the announcement, life has been a whirl-wind of mixed emotions.

Obviously, I am honored and humbled to have this incredible new opportunity that has me very excited, and admittedly, nervous as well. I have always been one to embrace a new challenge, and I find it to be a great opportunity to continue to grow both personally and professionally. This past Friday evening, I was invited to join the judges of the Western District at their holiday dinner, and was welcomed with genuine enthusiasm into the WDNY family. Earlier in the week, I also spent time meeting the Clerk’s office staff in both Rochester and Buffalo. They are a great group of people, dedicated to the Court and all that it represents. Once again, I received a robust welcome from the entire WDNY family.

At the other endRay security of my emotional spectrum is the thought of leaving this incredible bar association community. I know we have stated that I am not really leaving, as I will be remaining in the legal community, both here in Rochester, as well as in Buffalo. But it will be different. Each day, I will not be walking into the Telesca Center for Justice and being greeted by our incredible Ray Squila. Ray has been delivering either the weather forecast for the day, or announcing “TGIF all day Mary,” since I started.

As I then proceed to the 10th floor, one of my first stops every morning for 14+ years has been to the office of Kathy Fico. Some days, Kathy and I would share any quick updates on our kids, and then cover any hot topics for the day. Before I even had my coat off, Kath would pull a few documents or checks for me to sign, before she lost me to a day of meetings. With more than 21 years of MCBA experience, Kath would also take this moment to give me a heads up on either a staffing or budget matter. We worked like a well-oiled machine, and accomplished a lot in those 10-15 minutes. If I was coming in for an 8AM meeting, I might catch her before, if not, she would be my first stop after the meeting. I will miss my mornings with Kathy! Please be extra good to her in these months ahead.

Kathy was my primary routine, but throughout the day, I would have multiple visits from Liz Novak Henderson, or I would stop in on a variety of matters ranging from membership, to the Foundation, to an event, or to seek my opinion on a media question. Liz moves with great pace with lots of balls in the air. Like me, Liz enjoys the creative brainstorm when stuck on an issue, and will seek my counsel. Sometimes she may like it; other times she may regret that she ever asked me. Please support Liz in the months ahead by paying your dues if you have not yet paid for this year, or paying right on time in May when they come. Or if you have not yet made your donation to the Raise the Bar Campaign for the Foundation this year, go online today and make that happen.

Often, Louise may be in the CLE Room for a portion of the day, and we may not pass each other until later in the day. We have worked together for many, many years now. With Louise, I may have to push to learn more about what is going on in her bar world between CLE and the Diversity Committee. Please support Louise by following through if you are a Chair of a CLE Program, or a perhaps a speaker that owes her materials for a program that is on for the next week, or simply offering to take something off her plate instead of her volunteering to do what a volunteer should be doing. Or, finally, if you are one of the firms that will hire one of our 1L law clerks this summer, call Louise and tell her your firm is committed for the summer of 2016.

They are a very dedicated management team that will serve this Association well as they transition through the Search Committee and welcome a new Executive Director. Supporting the management team is the very dedicated staff of Suzanne Ventress, Diane Hill, Merritt Smith, Dianne Nash, Ben Freeland, Mark Swail and Robin DePoint. This is a time of uncertainty for all of them, however, they are receiving reassurance and support from MCBA President, Neil Rowe, and President-Elect, Mark Moretti.

The MCstaff photoBA Team has been my second family over the years. How this group has evolved has been pretty incredible. Their collective dedication to you and to the mission of the MCBA is evident every single day in the work they do. Please continue to be good to my bar family, as I know they will continue to be good to all of you.

Also on the MCBA bittersweet spectrum is all of you. I have decided I cannot begin to name those champions and leaders over the years as I know I would miss names, and that would be awful. But if you are one of the folks that has been showing up multiple times in a day or a week, or monthly for years on end, or even with periodic breaks, then I am talking to you — the extraordinarily dedicated members of the Monroe County Bar.

Past Presidents Lunch 017

You welcomed me 14 years ago with genuine enthusiasm, and we went to town as we began to rebuild and re-energize the MCBA. It truly has been an incredible ride with opportunities to knock down walls and escalators, while building a co-location model that does not exist anywhere in the country, and raising $2.6Million to accomplish it all. Challenges around community hot button issues, or internal hot-button issues, has further strengthened my ability to listen, learn and negotiate. I thank you for teaching me and for improving my skill set.

Many have stated, “Mary, you are the MCBA, what are we going to do?” And so now I wish to respond to this question for all to read, hear and understand. No one person is the MCBA, especially me! We are all replaceable, as am I. YOU as lawyers, judges, paralegals, law students, and affiliates ARE the MCBA. You are the dedicated members of this distinguished association, you are the real purpose behind the Association. As the very dedicated staff of the MCBA that supports all that we do has heard from me for many years, “YOU are the volunteers that pay your annual dues, volunteer your time on committees and sections, volunteer to chair or speak at CLE’s, pay to attend dozens of events or programs throughout the bar year.”

The other group I want to ensure you look out for are our young lawyers. I have  been accused of showing favoritism to them and  I will remind you one more time, they are the future of this So if you wish to keep this association alive and well for decades to come, I urge you to continue to support, nurture and celebrate these young people that have stepped up and accomplished so much on our behalf. They are the future leaders of this association. Other bars around the country are not having this same level of success that we are, so please do not lose site of this group.

I will miss this blog. I will miss the sharing of my life with you and finding ways to tie it back to some aspect of bar life. I will miss this quiet place where I could share and where you responded with fun and heartfelt comments over the years, or with challenges that would make me want to do better. As I mentioned last week, my three adult children are quite delighted the blog will come to an end. Frankly, the timing is good since they are now grown and all are turning out to be pretty successful in their life’s trek so far and have run out of good material on them. Over the years you have allowed me to write about the passing of my dad, Richard, and my brother, Peter, as well as other life challenges. What mattered to me is that you demonstrated how much you cared through cards, emails, hugs, visits and home deliveries of food and flowers.

I have loved the moments when you stop in for a visit to catch up; to share on an issue; to share some news about you; to gripe about a colleague or judge; or to talk about the challenges of the practice and of life. I loved your visits! I mean that. You were welcome distractions from 200 emails a day, or a delightful break between meetings. When I heard your voices, I would pop up to greet you and invite you in. If we spent 5 minutes or 30 minutes I always valued your insight, openness and honesty. We’d laugh; we’d speculate on politics; we’d think out loud; and for me, I always learned. You always gave me permission to speak honestly too!

I will miss you. Please continue to celebrate all that you have accomplished for the MCBA and I hope we never finish celebrating our success with the Telesca Center for Justice. There is still so much to be accomplished, so keep going, you have a lot to do yet.

Perhaps as I depart, I can take some liberty that perhaps I was unable to take before. There are 1,000 non-members in this community. Many opt out because they receive no tangible benefits. Some opt out for political reasons. Some opt out for financial or other personal reasons. My challenge to all of you and to those 1,000 non-members is that there is relevance here for everyone, and for those that require dues assistance, there is that opportunity as well. As many have heard from me over the years:

  • The MCBA is YOUR professional association. The MCBA provides the greatest opportunity to come together with your colleagues from all practice areas.
  • The MCBA is a place of dialogue and debate. By joining the MCBA, you are claiming a seat at the table where your voice can be heard.
  • The MCBA is an advocate for your profession, and for your community.

I have great confidence in our bar leadership Neil and Mark, and in the Search Committee, lead by Connie Walker, that you will find an incredible new Executive Director, and when you do, welcome this person with the same warmth and commitment you welcomed me all those years ago.

Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your bar exec for the past 14 years…it has been a great gig! To know you; to debate with you and to learn from you. I will see you around…






14 Years of Wrap-up is Daunting…

When I planned my week, I left myself no time to write the blog. So this blog will go down in history as my shortest to date. It’s very short because right now, I am attempting to wrap-up, transition and download my brain and all that resides in it from the last 14 years. I simply do not have time this week to write the thoughtful good-byes with the heartfelt thanks and appreciation that you are all due. I am saving that for next week… I hope?!

I have had to spend some time with my new colleagues at the WDNY, so I have been taking some PTO for those meetings as well. I spent yesterday afternoon at the Court in Buffalo and I met the large team that supports the Clerk’s office–great people welcoming me with wonderful enthusiasm and warmth. And I received the same treatment in Rochester, as I met the majority of the staff there on Monday.

As my days wind down and I begin my goodbyes (or “so longs” as I am not leaving the legal community), I am discovering that this is increasingly difficult. Last week’s Bench & Bar Holiday Party was wonderful and humbling as I was surrounded by words of encouragement, sadness, more encouragement, and many laughs of wonderful memories. I experienced this last night again with the fabulous women (and men) of GRAWA. Th12369066_10153801712284637_8463726739893812434_nis is always a fun holiday party that had more good wishes and words of encouragement.

Today, I bid my final adieu to the Foundation Board at this morning’s meeting and the emotions actually kicked in. I reminded them of the incredible Telesca Center for Justice that they have built with our partners. And how they need to own it, celebrate it and continue to support and nurture it. I was then presented with a farewell gift from the Foundation Board for a lifetime admission to the fabulous Jazz for Justice coming 2016. #JFJ2016.

I then attended my final House Finance Committee where five of my former Treasurers were present. They have guided me, counseled me, argued with me, allowed me to argue with them, and in the end, we had good decision-making due to their collective commitment. They have provided me with the wisdom to move on to the WDNY Court budget of $4-5 Million.

I just now realized this will most likely be my 2nd to last blog. That makes me sad. I have enjoyed writing these, late at night on the poMary and Kidsrch, or early, early morning when my life was quiet at home with my coffee. Most touching to me is the number of you that have shared with me over the years, and in recent weeks, how much you have enjoyed the blog, and of late, how many of you will miss the blog. To those regular readers, thank you for allowing me to share stories from my life, my family and some of my crazy thoughts. My attempts to tie my message back to the MCBA was not always spot on, but I tried.

I believe there will be a few people that are thrilled that my blogs will soon be history. First, my three children, Brian, Aidan and Claire, whom have grown up before your very eyes. No, I did not always seek their permission to share their lives, my lessons in parenting, and the such, but as I have said to them, I do believe that life with me has made them stronger. Second, a few blog readers and members that admitted through a survey and to me that they did not like my blogs. I was okay with that then and now.

All for now…see you next week!

Thanks for checking in,


The Pretty Much Lame Duck of the MCBA

(Though I will be here through the holiday getting things in good order and packing up some of my MCBA memories.) #Marysfinalcountdown






You’ve All Been Asking…


My MCBA life as your very proud Executive Director for 14 years has been pretty incredible. It has been full of great staff, great volunteers, great bar leaders, great friends, great causes, great moments and memories. I would be lying if I said there have not been any challenges along the way – there have been plenty. But challenges, debates, disagreements and roadblocks mean we are passionate for what we care about.

Let me clarify for so many that have asked the question, “Was I looking?” No, I was not looking. I was asked if I was interested in applying for the Clerk of the Court for the Western District of New York from someone that thought I might have both potential and interest.

My initial reactions were:

“I think you sent this to the wrong person?”

“Wish to remind you that though I like to play one sometimes, and I clearly have learned some of their best lines, I am not a lawyer!”

“Oh, so you think I could do this, hmmm?”

So from here, I talked with a few close friends, both in and out of the bar world; a few of my lifetime mentors; my brother, Tom; and Wally, the dog next door that wanders into my yard and just sits while I am out on the porch. I figure, if he is sitting, he can listen to my thoughts. Most of all, I have listened to my own heart and head. What an amazing new opportunity, with the chance to remain in the legal community in a new role with the ability to join the fabulous judges, clerks and staff in the Western District of New York, was simply something I should pursue.

I believe in risk-taking, not at a level of foolishness, but instead when it is well thought-out, and when you can be certain that, if you do not take the risk, you may live with self-doubt forever.

I knew I would totally be fine if I applied and did not get the job because I love what I currently do and totally envisioned my retirement another 10 or so years down the road. However, I was not certain I would be fine if I did not try. Would I be disappointed in myself for not testing my potential? I did not want to spend my future wondering.

So I applied, I interviewed, and then much to my incredible surprise, I received “the call”. “Mary, this is Judge Geraci, do you have a minute…”


As of January 4, 2016, I will be the Clerk of the Court for the Western District of New York. My primary base will be in the Jackson Courthouse in Buffalo, where I will spend at least 3-4 days per week. My second office will be down the street at the Keating Courthouse. Yes, I am planning to commute at least for now. My primary focus will be on the job in this first year. I think the 120-mile round-trip commute will bring some good quiet planning time coming and going. However, if I decide it is time to commute less, then I will consider a relocation to Buffalo, but for now, I am not taking on that decision. I’m just taking things one day at a time!


My 84 year old mom, Joan, is trying to grasp the change, as she is a little worried about the travel, and I decided that when she calls, I am merely going to say, “Yes Mom, I am downtown at the Courthouse…”, she will never know.

The other great aspect of all this is that I will be applying for an affiliate membership within both the MCBA and Bar Association of Erie County. Not sure what the Court will cover, but that is not important to me. I think this is most important for me in my new role as Clerk of the Court, and one way I plan to remain in touch with many of you, that is assuming both bars accept my membership application. 😉

It has been an incredible ride for 14 years. Thank you for the honor of working and playing hard in your incredible association. Thank you for allowing me to be both creative and passionate about what we believe in.

This will not be the final blog from me before I go. Today, I just wanted to answer the question.


Thanks for checking in,


We listened and we tried…

Since the very beginning of my time at the MCBA, I have heard about the “glory days” of the Bar when members would meet up at the Powers Grill. At the end of their day lawyers would gather to share stories from their days, meet friends, make new ones and to celebrate the collegiality of the profession. I understand that those were the days when attorneys would talk about a case, and perhaps even with a handshake, settle on a mutually favorable outcome for their clients. I would have loved to have been witness to this generation of the practice.

As a member association, we periodically do member surveys and will ask, “what other programs or services would you like to see the bar establish?” One of the primary responses received every time we ask this question is a request for more networking and social events.

Great! I love socializing and networking. It’s one of  my favorite activities in life. So our solution was to create an event that would accomplish three things:

  1. Be informal — no advanced registration required
  2. Be free or affordable for members — free munchies and discounted beverages
  3. Be super casual — which meant no speeches

The solution staff developed with insight and enthusiasm from our Membership Committee at the time was the creation of BarSTOP.

We established this monthly gathering for the third Thursday of every month from 5:00 – 7:00 pm to catch folks on their way home. Stop in for some downtime at the end of the day, enjoy free appetizers, compliments of our loyal sponsors each month, plus drink specials. Initially we gathered at The Hyatt for downtown convenience, but as the weather improved, we sought a variety of new locations including Label 7, City Grill, etc. We thought by moving it around town it would offer more appeal and show members the cool new venues that exist in Rochester. The establishments were always happy to welcome us.

december barstop blog photo           IMG_9222

Initially, we had a pretty good show of members, acknowledging it would take time to get launched, so in the early days, we may have hit 30 or even 40. And despite our very best efforts, the number began to dwindle. Some recent BarSTOPs were as low as 10-15, with our consistent regulars continuing to show up (which we appreciate).

As your bar executive, I am asked to look at resources that I put into all of our events, both human resources, and resources such as underwriting dollars. In recent months, and not just the summer BarSTOPs, I must question the commitment to this single event that clearly is not viewed as important by the super majority of the members. Following consultation with the MCBA Team, we have made the decision to discontinue the BarSTOPs. Though we regret this decision for the few loyalists that have attended over the last 2 years, we simply were not accomplishing our objective.

My struggle with this decision takes me back to the survey responses from you — we want more social and networking events. So help me understand, I think we accomplished that challenge in the form of BarSTOPs, but clearly so many of you did not. I am not certain we could have made it any cheaper.

Please talk to me, why did the BarSTOPs not make it? What could we have done different? Instead of monthly, is quarterly better? Is Thursday too busy with other activities? Was the beer not cold?

I work very hard, as does the whole MCBA team, to meet as many of your expectations as possible. If not a BarSTOP, then how do you wish to socialize and network?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for checking in,


Not sick, I am healing thanks to endless acts of kindness…

Four weeks into the foot healing as a result of elective surgery, and on my first evening out with friends, heading into Lucano’s for dinner, I had a serious miscalculation which resulted in a trip to the ground and a complex wrist fracture. Talk about a moment as I am sitting on the ground, recognizing my wrist was seriously broken, and recognizing what this would mean to my day to day life for the next weeks 4 weeks, and most importantly, what it would mean to the family and friends that love me and would be providing the bulk of the care-taking.


So many acts of kindness are unfolding each day, so I want to share a few:

#1 — The Waiter from Lucano’s that created a splint to stabilize my badly deformed and painful wrist with a piece of cardboard and a restaurant napkin. It felt safer and more comfortable.

#2 — The great Dr. Balial that did the preliminary setting of the wrist and those early shots that make you happy again.


#3 — The wonderful nurses and aides on Highland 600E where I was cared for by some amazing caregivers: Stephanie Michaels, Dianna Lyko, Mary, Gwen, Dyana, and the casting team of Anthony, Roger, & Mike who began to refer to me as a “frequent flier” to the Cast Room.

#4 — A visit from my president, Neil Rowe, with a funny card and a reassuring smile on Sunday when I sorely needed some distraction. As well as calls from Justin Vigdor, Steve Modica & Connie Walker. 

#5 — Dr. Catherine Humphrey, Chief of Orthopedics at Highland Hospital, and a wrist and hand trauma surgeon, for adding me to her Tuesday morning schedule at the last minute. I was so reassured to be in the hands of someone who knew wrists and hands.

#6 — A spontaneous visit from my MCBA buddy Penny Dentinger, with a delicious iced tea and a bag of treats from Hedonist Chocolate. It meant so much to me to have this visit!

#7 — My special caretakers: Elaine, Trilby, Nancy, Margaret, Jill, Brian, Aidan and Claire. Not to mention the home health care aides, Kathy, Lisa and Candace.

#8 — And to those looking out for my nourishment: Jill, Susan and Bryan, Curt, Helen and Marian, Carol, Shaina, Elaine, Trilby and Nancy again, Margaret, and a delicious iced Latte from Liz.

#9 — And to those that have have sent acts of kindness: flowers from Bruce and Susan, Neil and Ed, my mom and brother Tom, a funny card from Jenn Sommers that suggested i would go to extremes to miss a board discussion on judicial evaluations. Not true! And a really nice email from Josie Sheppard about my positive thought on healing, and encouragement that I use this time for quiet meditation…and anyone else I may have missed.


#10 — And to so many others that are wishing me positive thoughts via Facebook, and responding to my crazy photos of my plight on Facebook. I appreciate the support. Special thanks to my entire team for being there for me. As always, they are working hard, and I am working hard to keep up with them from my Healing Chair Office at Home.

Bonus mention — I am learning how to use the dictation function on my computer, it is very useful as I am not super successful at one handed key boarding.

Thanks for checking in, for the good thoughts, and for the many acts of kindness as I heal…


Simple lessons from my 2 weeks in a cast…

The surgery was elective and one that I have held off for several years, but when it had begun to impact my workouts and become a serious annoyance in my life, I decided it was time to get it done. My doctor, Judith Baumhauer, the Foot Master of Rochester, scheduled surgery for Tuesday, August 11th. The doctor reconfirmed with me that it would mean 8 weeks in a non-weightbearing cast, followed by 4 weeks in a boot, assuming all goes well and heals as planned. Ugh!

Lessons Learned after 2 short weeks:

Good Doctor — Dr Baumhauer is not only a great surgeon, but a great surgeon with a sense of humor. She has wonderful bed side manner as represented today when the cast came off, she reviewed the foot, and said, “This looks great!! Stitches coming out.” I asked about some of my recent clumsy moments and she reassured I would be fine. “After 3 months though I am no longer responsible” she said with a grin. Lesson learned — find the best doctor with a sense of humor!!

Nerve blocks — if you ever have to have orthopedic surgery, ask for a nerve block. It puts you in a very happy place for almost 36 hours after the surgery. No pain!! Unfortunately, the block does wear off, about 36 hours later. But then you have the back-up meds to manage the rest. Lesson learned — always go for the nerve block.

Chatty nurse & cute doctor —  I had two nurses tending to me. I am sure it is no surprise to many of you, I really enjoy talking with people, getting to know them, and learning about their job and life. So I was chatting it up, asking detailed questions about my procedure when one of the two nurses cut me off and said, “It’s my turn to talk now!!” Ouch — that hurt more than the needles they just stuck me with. My anesthesiologist was an adorable doctor from England, Dr. Duncan McLean. Between his charming accent, his cute face, and his reassurance, I went off to la-la land with a smile on my face. Lesson learned — have the nerve block with nice people.

Listen to the doctor — Dr. Baumhauer had three things to say to me post-op. First, “I am happy we did this now, it was bad, your life will be much better.” This was great news considering what was to come. Second, “you are to put ABSOLUTELY NO WEIGHT on it for 8 weeks!” Third, “once the nerve block seems to be wearing off, and you will know that by the onset of the pain, start the pain meds…do not delay, or you won’t catch up.”

With regard to the final prognosis, I am looking forward to my new foot. With regard to non-weight bearing, what I failed to realize is how careful you have to be about tripping on the crutches because our natural reaction is to catch ourselves, with the bad foot, it hurts and causes a temporary set back. And I hate pain Meds and thought Tylenol could manage it. Wrong! Lesson learned — listen to the doctor on all counts, they know what they are talking about.

Beautiful cast creations — when the first trip occurred within 48 hours, they decided it was time to remove the splint and put me in a cast to keep me safer.  I was told to select a color, and of course, I did not want just one color, I wanted two. It is the child in me. When I was told they only allowed one color, I pressed and said, “Come on, I have had a really difficult 24 hours, this would make my day.” My guy, Roger, came through. When he said he might get fired for it, I reassured him that I would call his boss and send incredible kudos to Roger and the whole cast room team. Which Lesson learned — be open to the child in you and find other naughty people, like Roger, that gets it!

FullSizeRender        Being humbled and empathetic — the greatest lesson I have learned in just these two short weeks is about the challenges of living with one leg. When all limbs are fully functioning, life is pretty easy from getting ready in the morning to cooking, to driving, to trips to the store, to walking up the steps to the bathroom and to bed at night. We don’t have to think about it. With a cast and crutches, or a scooter, or wheel chair, you really need to plan every step you take, and determine where the barriers are in advance.

I am not handicapped. This is a temporary state of life for me. It will be over in another 10 weeks or so. But it has opened my eyes to the challenges faced by so many thousands of people with permanent handicaps of all kinds. Every move they make needs to be strategically managed in one way or another. I have been most fortunate to have a group of caretakers ready to jump in and help, good friends, my two boys (who actually cleaned and hosed the garage) and my mom who folds the laundry. My MCBA Team that have armed my scooter with a bell for everyone’s safety as I turn those corners. So I am have been lucky on this front. But there are so many that are less fortunate. I see so many of them on my way to work, at work, and going home each day. How do they manage on their own?

Just yesterday, I went to the office for the first time in two weeks for a few morning meetings. I was dropped off in front of the  Telesca Center by a friend, hopped on my scooter, and began my scoot into the building through our handicap doors.

scooter crossing

One of the immediate barriers I encountered was at the entrance to the door. The sidewalk at the entry point of the door is severely pock-marked, which I have noted for years now, but walking over the damaged sidewalk and trying to wheel over the damaged sidewalk are two very different experiences. This was one of many, I suspect, eye-opening moments I will discover in the coming months about the challenges of having one less limb to rely on. Lesson learned — keep learning and find a way to replace the sidewalk in the front of the Telesca Center for Justice where we are committed to ensuring access to justice. Repair of the sidewalk may require some new funds, if you are interested in donating to the “Improve Access to the TCFJ Sidewalk Fund”, please send your donation to the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar.

Thanks for checking in,


A week of young, smart, successful, engaging women…

It is Sunday morning following a long week at the ABA Annual Meeting. Another wonderful conference that re-energizes me and fills my head with new ideas or new ways to look at things. I extended my travels a few days, and made a stop in Boston to check on my youngest, Claire Corbitt. I woke early this morning, started the writing of this blog, then grew tired again, so went back to bed for another 90 minutes, only to wake with a Iced Latte from Starbucks at my bedside delivered by Claire. Wow, this kid REALLY is growing up!!

mary and daughter

From the moment Claire pulled up in her car, looking like quite the young Boston hip kid that she is, I felt a mixture of pride, lonesomeness and nostalgia. I remember experiencing the same feeling on my first trip to Nashville to see Brian when he was just 22, and he pulled up in his car to greet me at the airport. In that instant, my mind can so clearly go back to the moment that I held them for the first time, and the immediacy of the love affair with this tiny little being, as you wrap them forever into your protective arms. And now they are living hundreds of miles away in large cities, driving cars, and starting their lives. All of that flashes in front of me in those moments before I once again hold her in my arms for a long hug.

This young millennial had our afternoon planned starting with sushi on a rooftop restaurant in the heart of Boston’s Seaport neighborhood. It was wonderful to sit there with Claire, and hear the stories of work and roommates in person and not via the phone. She looks happy and relaxed on this Saturday afternoon; it did my heart good to see her thriving.

Once back to the apartment, I was greeted warmly by the 2 roommates, Kristin “Kooie” Scime, Claire’s roommate and best buddy from college, and Kristin Karl, one of Claire’s best friends from high school, and as it happens, MCBA member Kate Karl’s niece. We were also joined by Kooie’s friend, Rachel. While Kooie and Rachel made their very healthy dinner, the rest of us sat at their kitchen table talking over a glass of wine.

Cooking Class

As we sat there, I asked the question that all parents want to know — are you enjoying your lives as young working professionals? Almost simultaneously, they all responded, “Yes, but I miss college!” Not sure why I was surprised by this response — Bentley was a magical place for Claire and her crew. When I asked why the answer was again unanimous, “the adjustment to lives that are 9-5pm, and missing their college families/friends.” All of them are already experiencing the pressure of deadlines, bosses and, as a result, overtime. But they do love coming home to each other to enjoy dinner together, or meeting up after work to go to a local pub for some down time. After all, it is Boston and there is no short supply of pubs and restaurants

They shared their angst about learning how to budget, make their rent payments, loan payments, car payments, phone bills, etc. I shared with them the decision making power of determining “want vs. need” when it came to shopping. I shared with them my own learning on this process over the years, and my best suggestion was to establish a budget. So together we opened our smart phones, and agreed on a highly rated app called, Mint. Mint allows you to build your budget, send bill reminders, plan for savings, emergencies, and retirement. But it also allows them to budget for their groceries, entertainment, beer supply, clothes, or even paying Mom back on a small loan! As they sat there discussing the app and its many capabilities, I suggested that perhaps they want to plan for a group dinner one night a week, with their laptops on hand, pay their bills, review and adjust their budgets, and plan for their week. Can we eat out once this week? Can we eat out and go to the beach this weekend? If you do this planning together, you will be supporting one another. All agreed and seemed to feel better as a result.

It was a wonderful 36 hours with Claire. I cherished our time alone to simply sit and listen to her talk about her life from bosses, co-workers and learning about her job, to friends in her life, to beaches and bars. I left with my arms once again wrapped protectively around her to keep her safe in her new world.

Last night, I hosted a group of women, both members of the Young Lawyer Section, and now alums of the Section on the porch. I had been promising this gathering for way too long, and so last night it finally happened. The group consisted of Penny Dentinger, Christin Cornetta, Laura Myers, Wende Knapp, Melanie Wolk and Carey Ann Denefrio. It was a perfect night on the porch to have this very special group of women over. Like my experience with Claire over the weekend, I could not help but sit and watch this group of dynamic women, and think back to the days when I first met them. They were young, eager go-getters, and I immediately latched on to them knowing that this group had the potential as future leaders, and in time, future presidents. Laura Myers was the YL Chair that really managed to get things moving, by capturing her friends to take on the work of the Section, where they made new friends, and began building new leaders.


As I looked at this group of six last night here is the tally:  Melanie has been on both the Board of Trustees, and resigned to assume the role of GRAWA President several years ago; Wende, also a former YL Chair, is now on the Board of Trustees, bringing her voice and making a difference; Laura, Penny and Carey Ann are all on the Foundation Board, where Penny is serving as Secretary; and Christin has just started her first term on the Foundation Board. All of them have supported in a BIG way, the Foundation’s Jazz For Justice over the past five years, ensuring the event’s success.

I sat there listening to them and recognizing that I was so right all those years ago. They are young bar leaders being recognized for their active engagement and participation in so many directions. In order to not be accused of not acknowledging the great young male bar leaders, Jim Paulino, along with Tim Lyster and now Curt Johnson, have all been integral in the success of the YL Section. Prior to Curt, it was Jenn Lunsford.

What really struck me though is that not only are these women great volunteers, but they are great lawyers. They are so smart, making their marks as litigators, law clerks, and corporate counsel attorneys. They are talking about the attorneys that trained them, mentored them, and yes, scared them along the way, but not afraid of speaking with their strong voices. When it comes to their MCBA involvement, they now wish to transition into more of the substantive committees and sections in terms of leadership opportunities. They want to learn how to work toward a seat on the Litigation or Business Law Section Counsels. I assured them that I would see the nomination process for the Sections would be circulated far and wide, for their applications. Please be ready to welcome these extraordinary members. As they departed, I realized that each and everyone of them have the potential to be nominated president one day of the MCBA because all of them are that good! YLShangout

In the end, it was another wonderful night on the porch with some amazing women, culminating a wonderful week with even more amazing young women in Boston.

In terms of my vacation this summer, I am getting ready to undertake a “Make Mary Better & Faster Improvement”, with an impending foot surgery next week. I have been delaying this surgery for several years now, and it has become a problem, slowing me down at the gym, unnecessary pain, etc. I decided the summer of 2015 was the time, before the snow began to fall again in late September, since I will be in a non-weight-bearing cast for 8 weeks, and a boot for 4 more. The real tragedy in all of this is that my contract as a shoe model has been revoked. They are not willing to work with shoe models that have had foot surgery. Can I get a legal opinion on this one folks — can they do this to me?

The gang from last night has told me to let them know when I am off the pain pills, and they will revisit the porch with wine in hand. In efforts to plan ahead for when I do return to work, I will have one of those scooters that you kneel on to help me zoom around and to give my arms a rest from the crutches. It has been suggested from some of my smart-aleck staff, that I might want to add a bicycle bell or horn since it resembles a little bike and for the safety of others at the office since we have many corners that I can be zipping around. I thought that idea was actually both funny and practical.


Please be careful driving down the corner of Main and State, go slow in case you see me on my scooter. I may be moving slow now, but wait for the new and improved Mary, coming very soon to a bar association near you.

Thanks for checking in,


Ten Best Places to Eat While Working at the MCBA

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,