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?

The beginning and ending of careers…

I really expected that with two of my three children (Brian in Jupiter, Florida and Claire in Boston) now living out of town and working, and one both working and finishing school (Aidan in Rochester) that the phone would ring less. I assumed that in time, because of their new and blessing careers and excitement over future careers, that I would hear less from them. As my own 84 year old mother, Joanie, would say: “Yes, they grow up and call less and less!” Mom says that with a raised brow sending me a clear message, “Yes, I am talking to you, young lady!!”


At this point they are calling for a variety of things:

  • “Mom, can you send me your ‘Kick Ass Chili’ recipe?”
  • “Mom, how do I get red wine out of a white blouse?” “Yes, Mom, I am 22 and can drink red wine!”
  • “Mom, what do I do with this bill from Dr. So & So?” To which I reply: “You pay it!”
  • “Mom, my house in Boston is really hilly, and I am terrified about the Boston winter, and how I will get up and down the hill, what do I do?” To which I replied: “Once the snow really starts falling, find a true Boston friend, and ask for some hilly-street lessons!”
  • “Mom, I had this email the other day at work about…what should I do?” To which I replied: “Get out from behind the email and go have a conversation.”
  • “Mom, I have this project team I have to work with on a class project, and they did not show up for our meeting, what do I do?” To which I replied: “Send them a message securing the next team meeting date, and if they fail to show up a second time, let them know, you will have to seek counsel from the Professor.”
  • “Mom, my money is a little tight this month, any ideas?” To which I replied: “Yes, stop going out, eat more cereal and be sure you take your multi-day vitamin.”
  • “Mom, do you have a minute?” To which I reply: “No, it is 10:30 pm and I was asleep. If you are safe, call me in the morning!”

I trust as the years go on, their careers progress, their lives become busier than they already are, they meet someone and fall in love, break-up (call Mom again for words of comfort and a hug or home-cooked meal for lucky Aidan), meet someone new again, really fall in love this time, and in time (many years from now because they are all way too young yet) perhaps marry and maybe even make me a grandmother (even more years from now) and the little ones will learn to call me, Marmi, after the beloved mother in Little Women.

Life goes by so incredibly fast. I was a young career woman once, and then a mom, and now I am still a “young at heart career woman” with many years of experience, and a much wiser mom to the young adults in my life. They are at the start of their lives, making career choices, making decisions (some with me; and most without me as I encourage their independence). It is a time of excitement and uncertainty — some of the best days of our lives, right?

I have the annual privilege of a sneak peak at the incredible memorials that have been prepared for our MCBA Memorial Service to be held tomorrow, Friday, November 13th at 12:30 pm in Courtroom 404 in the Hall of Justice. The Honorable Craig Doran, our Administrative Judge, will be presiding over this session of Court, with tributes being read by the dedicated members of the Memorial Committee, chaired by the Honorable Dandrea Ruhlmann. This year we will be honoring 20 extraordinary members of the profession that we have lost this past year.

memorial honoree

Extraordinary is really the best word to describe this very special group of people. Having just celebrated Veteran’s Day yesterday, so many of this group of honorees are veterans. For example, Al Boylan. Al was in Harvard Law when WWII started, and he was allowed to complete his final year of law school and take the bar exam. Then Al was immediately sent to Officer Candidate School. Be sure to read Al’s memorial to see where he was assigned to guard, and that as a result of this assignment, it provided Al with great story telling opportunities over the years.

Another sign of the extraordinary times was Helen Brooks. Helen received her law degree from Cornell Law, most likely one of few women in law school in that time. She went on to spend her entire career at Lawyers Co-op in Rochester. Helen became a well-known and much sought after volunteer by the Landmark Society, Ellwanger Garden’s. If you want to know where Helen lived when she first re-located to Rochester, I would encourage you to come to tomorrow’s service.

Another giant in this group is Jay Friedman. I remember meeting Jay when I first arrived at the MCBA, and he told me that we needed to resurrect the famous MCBA and Monroe County Medical Society Clambake/Picnic. Jay loved that event, and was one of the active participants in its organization. Having spent many years on the physician side of the community, Jay was convinced we could make this happen. I am disappointed that we never did get that initiative restarted. Perhaps it is not too late, and we re-launch the picnic in Jay’s honor. To find out the “scariest and most exciting thing” that Jay ever did in his life, I again invite you to attend tomorrow’s service.

A fierce advocate for giving back, David Merkel, did not require any kind of mandate or encouragement on taking pro bono cases. It came naturally, but David performed this service very quietly. In a family known for their big personalities, it sounds like this commitment to pro bono was the only thing David did quietly. Though not a veteran himself, learn how David was honored by the American Legion. To find out why David was honored, please join us for tomorrow’s service.

I could go on and on and on with more stories, teases and reasons as to why you should attend tomorrow’s Memorial Service. You are not required to know anyone on the list to attend, simply come and listen. You are not required to be in your own sunset years to attend. If you are a young attorney, or a mid-career attorney, I would encourage you to come, listen and learn.

There will be extraordinary life and law lessons learned tomorrow from an even more extraordinary group of dedicated professionals that deserve to have their life celebrated. I am planning to send each of my young adults a copy of this incredible tribute book so they can learn some life lessons.

Please join us tomorrow in this one hour of gratitude. I promise, it will be worth canceling the lunch or rescheduling the not-so-critical meeting.

Thanks for checking in,


Bye Bye Fringe, Hello Art of Lawyering

The Fringe festival is coming to a close and as we say goodbye to a week of spectacular performances and excellent films, we should not say goodbye to art. It is incredibly important to keep culture alive and awake in our Rochester community. If you’re looking for an excellent event to attend, Village Gate will be the venue for the Volunteer Legal Services Project (VLSP) Art of Lawyering fundraiser on Oct 7 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. This is my first year attending the event, auction and exhibition of art and I cannot wait!



All of the net proceeds directly benefit VLSP’s low income clients by funding litigation costs such as subpoenas, transcript and translation fees for pending cases. Many of the pending cases are civil legal problems such as loss of housing or employment, bankruptcy, divorce, HIV health-related problems and transgender legal issues. Yes, that is correct, they have successfully amounted an array of issues that cut across every MCBA committee.

Last year, 4,275 individuals benefited from direct civil legal representation and VLSP volunteers completed 1,845 cases and donated 6,706 hours totaling a value of more than $1 million. Take the time to read that previous sentence again and really think about how many lives can be impacted by this event. 6,706 hours equates to 279.41 DAYS of nonstop work. For all the legal travelers out there, you could fly to Naples, Italy 635 times in that amount of volunteer hours.

art of lawyer 001

Anyhow, getting back to the event, there is still time to donate art to the fundraiser. A simple form requiring your name, address and description of the proposed donation can be accessed from under the “Donate tab,” select “Art of Lawyering,” then scroll down to see the “Art Donor” link. Questions about donations should be directed to VLSP staff members Brittany Belknap ( or Bryan Babcock (

As in prior years, the emphasis is on art created by members of the legal community but this year, other talented artists have expanded to include photographers, Robert Harris, Cordell Cordaro and Barbara Fox.

Nicole Black Jewelry

Please keep in mind that you’ll not only be bidding or viewing paintings on a wall but sculptures, jewelry, embroidered materials, photography, woodcrafts and more. I am a terrible artist but I love to interpret and view art. And, don’t forget about all of the food that is available at the event! For those of you who have read this blog before, I am a huge proponent of food as well.

Tickets are $15 in advanced and $20 at the door. There will also be a silent auction and chances to win tickets to venues like Geva Theatre, Hunt Hollow Ski Club and more. Mark your calendars and join me October 7 at the Village Gate (274 Goodman St N, Rochester, NY 14607). See you there!

Send Us Your Summer Photos…By Liz Novak

At the end of last week’s blog, we put out a request for you to submit photos of what you have been doing this summer – to send us your family vacation photos or photos from gardening, tennis, golf, etc.

Alas, we heard from no one.

So we’re taking a different approach and making this request the focus of this week’s blog…with a few photos from our staff to show you how it’s done.

Request: Please send us photos from your summer so that we can include in a future blog or post in our social media posts.

For example…

Maybe you’re obsessed with growing your own vegetables…and like to post photos of them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook ALL the time.


These beauties are from my garden. #urbanfarming #imobsessed

…Or maybe this is the first summer you spent with the newest member of your family – like a beautiful baby girl named Charlotte.


Charlotte Smith, daughter of MCBA Marketing Specialist Merritt Smith and MCBA member Laura Smith, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, has been enjoying playing in the pool with daddy this summer. #yupimthiscute

…Or maybe you went on a week-long camping trip with your entire family in the Adirondacks.

2015 Family Pic

The above is a photo from Suzanne Ventress’ camping trip…she is the one in purple on the right side holding on to her husband Mark for dear life. Just kidding, Suzanne had a great time! #blackbearlodges #thefamilythatcampstogether

…Or maybe you’re new to your job, like Ben Freeland, and have not accrued any vacation time yet so you’re stuck helping your partner Jeremy tear down houses as part of his work during your downtime.


Poooor Ben. #donniedowner #whaWaaaa

Or maybe you’re spending your entire summer vacation recovering from a foot surgery that you had been putting off.

But at least Mary’s cast looks fabulous. #rogerthecastartist #piècederésistance

And if you’re friends with Louise Spinelli on Facebook, you will see many photos of fun times they have been having with family from Italy over the past couple of weeks. So go “friend” her on Facebook and check out her photos! #buondivertimento

Do you have some fun photos from this summer to send our way? Please send them to Ben…since we know he’ll be here and not on vacation… We’ll use them in another blog or post on Facebook – just send our way!

Thanks for checking in!


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.

blog 003 blog 002


Ben Freeland

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

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

Now for a little about me:

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

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

Ben and Suzanne

Suzanne Ventress

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

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

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

Monroe County Bar Blog| Bar Association| Law Blog

How do MCBA members and staff unwind after work? Guest Post by Dajaneé Parrish

For many of us, the work day is filled with deadlines, phone calls and emails. After a long workday finding ways to relax and recharge is a must.

We wanted to know, what MCBA members and staff do to unwind after work. Do you prefer to socialize after work or spend a quiet night at home? Are there certain activities that you always do after an especially stressful day?

After work, I spend my time watching YouTube videos. The original content and YouTube vloggers are entertaining. It’s so easy to just click on one video and then two hours later I find myself in the YouTube black hole of cat videos.

Here’s what we found out…

For Liz Novak, MCBA Membership, Communications and Foundation Manager, starting the practice of yoga recently is how she unwinds and gets her mind off of work:

“I recently started taking yoga at my gym. Sometimes it’s in the morning, which sets me up for a great day, or sometimes it’s in the evening, which helps to brush off the day’s work. A friend of mine convinced me to take a class. It’s completely out of my comfort zone, but because you have to focus on each of the moves, it allows me to be present instead of focusing on what I have to do later in the day or tomorrow, etc.”

For Steve Modica, MCBA President, unwinding with family is the best medicine. “I enjoy spending time with my bride of 28 years, playing golf, walking my dogs and watching sports (especially professional baseball and hockey).”

For Amanda Dwyer, Chair, Lawyers for Learning Committee, spending time in nature with her family gets her mind off of work.” In my down time I like to spend time with friends and family, especially my husband and two-year old son. We often enjoy walks in some of Monroe County’s amazing parks. Lately I have become something of a bird watcher. I like to spot different kinds in my yard and out in the wild.”

For Neil Rowe, MCBA President-Elect, getting in some cardio and enjoying the company of fellow MCBA members is all he needs to unwind.

“I used to compete in bicycle racing, but now limit myself to invigorating rides of 30 or so miles 3 or 4 days a week.  On the alternating days I swim about 1/2 mile and otherwise enjoy my pool and backyard.  As we get to the colder seasons, I switch to the indoor gym and pool at the Webster Y.  With my retirement from government service, my teaching schedule with Keuka College should allow more time to travel, particularly to historic sights; but for the time being I am relaxing with my fellow MCBA members at a plethora of bar sponsored activities and events.”

For Ginny LaCour, MCBA Executive Assistant, faith and a little bit of Downton Abbey help her relax.

“Well – as far as taking care of myself – Church is very important to me. Spending time with my family is most valuable.  I love to read, watch HGTV, and yes, “Downton Abbey” and other similar PBS programs.  I live near the lake, so I enjoy walking on the pier at Charlotte and of course, Abbott’s!  And if I could, I would travel, travel, travel!”

Tell us what you like to do to unwind after work.

It’s about the conversation…

As parents, one of the primary roles we play in the lives of our children is about maneuvering the perils of friendships, teachers, love interests, their first bosses or co-workers, roommates and the list goes on. I was always of the belief that it was not my role to step in and have the conversation on their behalf, but to help them find their voice. When they were convinced that “my teacher” hates me and “this is the reason I received a poor grade in the class,” I would listen, and then have a conversation with them about what else may have caused the poor grade. Ultimately, it was about encouraging them to find the words to have the conversation with their teacher. I was never the parent that would step in before they had the conversation on their own.

Now that they’ve reached the working world, I find they listen even harder to my advice. Like me, Brian works for a membership organization, a Country Club with golfing members. I have said it before, he has a really nice way about him as he maneuvers this world. He has a great club pro, John Spelman, whom Brian learns from on a daily basis. But fortunately, he has identified others in his life that serve as his mentors as well. Primary is his uncle, Cary Corbitt. Cary is the Golf Pro at the world famous Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina. When Brian needs PGA counsel, or some other career advice, Cary is a phone call away, and they stay in regular touch. Brian also tracked down and met a teaching pro, Joe Hallett, who coaches Stacy Lewis, the former #1 ranked player in the LPGA. Brian, who does quite a bit of coaching for members, learned about Joe, and strategically sought him out and has formed an invaluable friendship/mentorship with him, all while learning more about how to improve his own teaching skills.

brian swings

Bringing this topic back home now, you have heard for some time about the “Mentoring for a Moment” Program that we have established this year. The idea was not to impose the requirement of establishing long term relationships, though that is always a wonderful thing, but instead, to create a resource in which a young lawyer can call or email someone if he or she needs an opinion on a particular question, client or case. They need someone to call in the moment for this counsel. Thus, the creation of Mentor for a Moment Program by the Membership Committee.

To date, we have about two dozen mentors signed up, and ready to accept calls and emails from mentees anxious to learn more from these seasoned attorneys. I have written on this topic in the past, and am writing about it again, because it is so important. I ask you to think back to your early days. When there were mentors early in your career that had a big impact on you, your practice and your view of the profession. This is a critical time for these young lawyers. Many of them that are working within law firms, still desire to create new alliances, but if you are a solo and hanging your own shingle, then you really need to know there are people you can call. I hear repeatedly from seasoned attorneys that young lawyers need help in their early years of practice, especially those not at a big firm. This is your opportunity to help! To learn more about Mentor for a Moment, click here. To become a mentor, please click here. We really need you as does future of the profession.

So here is one way you can immediately get involved, while having fun! With the winter vortex now past, and spring clearly in the air, we have decided to create an opportunity for the mentors to meet the mentees at the May BarSTOP. Next Thursday, May 15th, is our “3rd Thursday of the Month — MCBA BarSTOP. Since November 2013, we have been gathering at the Hyatt on Main Street. But with the weather revolution underway, we thought it would be nice to get out into some fresh air. So next week’s BarSTOP is set for Label 7, located in Schoen Place in Pittsford. A great location with a patio and great bar space.

Bustling BarSTOP

Your job is to mark your calendar right now to join us next Thursday at the BarSTOP at Label 7. We will be getting things started at 5:00 p.m. with free appetizers and great drink specials. If you  happen to be a golfer, and you agree to mentor, I will get you a lesson with Brian the next time he is in town.

Sponsors include Kammholz & Messina and Canandaigua National Bank. Please plan to gather your friends, colleagues, better half, your staff and come on out to Label 7. Promise you a good time, good people, good food and drink, and good conversation.

Thanks for checking in,



Supporting our own…

the future next exit

Claire will be a Senior at Bentley University next fall, and is beginning to feel the pressure of “the real world”, and all that this represents. Is graduate school in her immediate future? Or does she start working first, and then build in graduate school on a part-time basis? And then of course, there is the harsh reality of school loans. As the mom of three, I have always been a firm believer that the kids need to go into their college educations with some skin in the game, and therefore, they all have some loans, and held jobs down while in school. And I have a commitment to each of them to help them at some level as they graduate. But as a parent, I would be lying if I did not admit some level of anxiety for Claire as she graduates in May of 2015 into a world of unknowns. Fortunately Bentley has a placement rate of 97%, and Claire is bright and capable, so I am confident she will land a position.

Brian almost chose law school 3 years ago, and instead opted for PGA School and life as a club & teaching golf pro, where he is gainfully employed at a wonderful course in Nashville, paying his bills and is happy in his life. And I am happy that he did not opt for law school, and that I am not the mother of a young, new law school graduate competing with thousands of other lawyers for so few jobs.

According to the ABA, in 2011-12 the number of 1L law school students across 201 law schools was 48,697. That’s a lot of graduates hitting the job search pavement.

So as Executive Director of the MCBA, I cannot help but wear my “Mom hat” sometimes in the presence of our young attorneys that are job hunting, or hanging their shingle as a solo, and worrying about them as well. On a daily basis now this group of members is on my mind. Just last week the Membership Committee approved two waivers for dues to young attorneys. And just yesterday in the Academy of Law meeting, I heard a report that request for CLE fee waivers is on the increase more now than ever before. What was alarming here is that the waivers were not only for new lawyers, but also for some experienced lawyers, that are obviously struggling.

This population of members is frequently on my mind of late. I am talking with the MCBA’s Strategic Planning Committee about the situation, and seeking their input. Last night I had a brief conversation with President Diane Cecero on this topic as well. And as a mom of a new young lawyer, she understands this issue. Her son, Stephen Whelan, is a hardworking young attorney at a firm in Washington, D.C. However, in our brief conversation Diane understood the point  I was raising, and agreed that some reflection and dialogue on this topic would be useful in order that we can better respond to MCBA can respond to our members, and future members.

Here is what we are currently doing:

  • Robust and active Solo & Small Firm Committee — whether or not you are running a solo practice, this is a great place to network and learn from others.
  • Plus 7 other substantive sections and more than 30 engaged committees — all doing great work.
  • Active Solo & Small Firm Listserv — great information shared with many learning opportunities as well. Not to mention, potential for client referrals. Contact Liz Novak at if you would like to be added.
  • Robust and active Young Lawyers Section — a wonderful opportunity for new lawyers to get involved. The section is hosting a new admittee welcome reception at an Amerks game on Wednesday, March 12. Click here for more details.

2013 new admitte cere

  • Use of Conference Rooms — just ask Ryan Woodworth, a young attorney that is busy growing his practice, and since his office is in his home, he is making use of his member benefit of using conference rooms in the MCBA to meet clients. Now, if this demand becomes so great, we may have to expand to conference rooms throughout the Telesca Center for Justice, but there are plenty.
  • Access to an MCBA work station — due to damage to the 10th floor from water damage through the roof, the MCBA has recently, thanks to insurance, replaced carpet on the 10th floor, resulting in the reconfiguration of some spaces. From that exercise, we are in the process of creating two member work stations, complete with phone and a computer. These are not up and running yet, but we hope to have these functional in the next 30 days. (If anyone or any firms have two healthy desk top computers they would be willing to donate to this cause, please let me know. We don’t need the software, just the hardware. Please contact me directly at, I would be most grateful.)
  • Mentor for a Moment — The Mentor for a Moment program is a members only program (you will need your username and password to log in) that list attorneys mentors with 10-plus years in specific practice areas that have volunteered to be available for a phone call or email for new or young attorneys. Please feel free to reach out to anyone on the list in a practice area relevant to you. We are still looking for mentors. Please check out the Mentor Application for the application with the various practice areas.
  • Networking & Fun at the BarSTOP — the creation of the BarSTOP was intended to create a monthly gathering place for members to come to both network and socialize. These are a great time, and the attendees are of all generations from Wende Knapp, YLS Chair, and Laura Myers and Penny Dentinger and other young attorneys, to Paul MacAulay, Bruce Lawrence, Andrew Brown, Phil Hurwitz, Eileen Buholtz, Judge Frank Geraci, Judge Paul Warren, Connie Walker, Diane Cecero, Steve Modica and Justin Vigdor — and I know I am leaving folks out…please don’t be upset with me!


So the question is — what more should we do? What more can we do? My Strategic Planning Committee will challenge me, maybe even fuss at me, for writing this blog on this particular topic, but first and foremost we are a membership association. In my mind, that translates to supporting our members in their profession of the practice of law. In my mind, this is our primary mission. What do you think? Should we be doing more? If so, what does that mean? Can we find a way to introduce these new attorneys to contract work to at least build some experience while giving you some breathing room? If so, how do we do that? Are you willing to be part of the dialogue? Are you willing to help your young colleagues, or your peers that may be struggling with unemployment?

As Liz mentioned in last week’s blog, the Membership Committee is working on a series of surveys targeted to different groups as we understand that different groups have different needs. Please watch for these surveys, and take the time to respond. We all can work together for the bigger picture — a better bar that is responsive and indispensable to the needs of our members no matter what stage of their life they are in.

Thanks for checking in….


Many Places…Many Presidents…

My son, Brian, is a golf assistant at Richland Country Club in Nashville, Tennessee. The course is beautiful and historic, as it was built on an old Civil War Battlefield. The course is amazing, and their members take great pride in it. As an assistant golf pro, working on his PGA certification, Brian’s day is managing day to day operations, their frequent tournaments, interacting with members, and giving private lessons to members, their spouses, and in some cases their children, because, according to Brian, every golfing parent believes their child may be the next Tiger Woods.  I listen to him as he shares about his interactions with members that may be upset about something, or the Club President that has an issue that he brings to Brian to solve. And I am impressed that at 23, he has developed such a solid management style, an intuitiveness about matters . He reports that he really likes his membership, and his presidents, and that he enjoys the many personalities he engages with daily.

Past Pres Dinner 1 Connie

I can so relate to Brian’s experiences. The other night we held our annual dinner of the Association’s Past Presidents at the Strathallan. We have 34 living presidents, 35 until the recent passing of Judge David Boehm. On July 1st, they will be 35 again when President Connie Walker joins their ranks. This is an annual dinner held every spring and it served as an opportunity for them to celebrate Connie, while welcoming the incoming president, Diane Cecero, as well as incoming president-elect, Steve Modica.

The presidents pay their way for this annual gathering and really cherish this wonderful tradition for many reasons. They love to determine who is the oldest living president, and also simply the oldest. Turns out Jim Hartman is the oldest, as he turned 85 on that night. But it is Tony Palermo that holds the title of oldest living president. Tony served in 1973! His passion for the profession, the law, and the bar world is as strong as ever.

Past Pres Dinner Tony P

As they began to arrive, and secure a glass of wine, the friendly- banter and story-telling also began. It really is one of my favorite events of the bar year. Following dinner, the Past President Co-Chair, Dick Rosenbloom, (sadly his Co-Chair side-kick Mary Ross was unable to be with us due to illness caused by the grand kids visit over the long weekend) began the short program with an invitation to Connie to provide some brief remarks about her year. Connie did a great job sharing some of the highlights, but acknowledged that she is looking forward to entering the Past Presidents Club. Then Diane Cecero was introduced as our new incoming president and spoke about feeling welcomed into this group of colleagues, many of whom she has known for years. Diane’s plan is to focus on a successful development and implementation of the MCBA Strategic Plan, and like all the presidents that came before her, to ensure a good future for the bar.

Past Pres Dinner Bryan and Judge Rosenbloom

And then I shared a few brief comments about the great year I have had with Connie. We accomplished so much more than she had time to share. But all agreed, the biggest accomplishment for all of us was the completion of the Telesca Center for Justice lobby. If you have not seen it, stop in. Special thanks went out to Justin Vigdor for his 8 year leadership on the Partnership Campaign, and to Harold Kurland, who was a tireless supporter of the Campaign and determined to see the lobby renovated.

I drove home wondering where 2012-13 went. It seems as though only yesterday it was Bryan’s farewell, and Connie was coming into her term, and now a year has passed, and Diane is coming, and Steve will follow closer than he thinks.

A great quote I appreciate is,

“The lawyer is the fellow who evens things up, the champion of all those who…must bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong…the law’s delay…S(he) fights  fire with fire, meets guile with guile, and rights the legal wrong.”

Arthur Train, Mr. Tutt’e Case Book (1936).

As I took my final glances at this roomful of remarkable bar leaders from the past and the present, I saw a room full of passionate fire-fighters that have built this incredible association. We should all be proud.

With that, I invite you to join us on Thursday, June 13th for the Installation of our 118th President, Diane Cecero. This is also an opportunity to celebrate our out-going president, Connie Walker. Click here to register.

Thanks for checking in…


MCBA Judicial Evaluations — How are we doing?


With more than 50 people present yesterday, esteemed attorney James Moore moderated a forum about the Monroe County Bar Association’s role in the evaluation of judicial candidates. Following a brief presentation by Bryan Hetherington, Judicial Evaluation Task Force Chair, the floor was opened to questions and robust dialogue about all aspects of our process. Jim reminded everyone at the beginning that the MCBA’s commitment to judicial evaluations has been in existence for more than 30 years that he can recall. Bryan stated that the MCBA, per the Judiciary Committee Procedures, does have an obligation to do a periodic review of our process, with a commitment to ensuring it is the best it can be. Though by the end of the forum, it was acknowledged by many that there is no perfect system.

Bryan reviewed the work of the Task Force, and described their extensive work over the past two years in their review of the process. This forum was the first of three, with the next one planned for the community on February 20th at 6:30 pm at St. Mary’s Church Downtown. If you are an attorney or a member of the judiciary, you should feel free to attend this event if you were unable to attend yesterday’s program. Then on February 27th, we are meeting at the Hall of Justice with members of the judiciary for a closed forum. In addition, the Task Force leadership will be reaching out to the party leaders to invite their feedback on the process as well.

Opinions differed as to how the process should be conducted; whether or not we should have a process; whether or not the poll should continue as part of the process; and how we can improve the promotion of the results in order to ensure that the function we set out to do which is to educate and inform the public about judicial candidates as they cast their votes each year.

One thing that all present agreed on yesterday was that our community deserves a strong and impartial judiciary, in order to ensure justice for all. And many of those present believe that as the lawyers that appear in front of judges, or have worked on a case with a potential judicial candidate, are in a good position to evaluate and inform.

If you are interested in the Judicial Evaluation process view the PowerPoint Presentation. The Task Force is very interested in additional feedback, so if you have comments, suggestions or ideas, please send those directly to Bryan Hetherington

Thanks for checking in,