I have a confession…

I have an addiction. I am “AppHappy.” As a communications/public relations major in college, the early days of my newsletters were done over a light board, with paper cut by hand, and glued with rubber cement. Fast forward 30 years, and we are carrying more powerful computers in our hands than any of us could have imagined even 5 years ago.

These full smart phones and tablets illuminate with these bright-colored little icons that appear on my iPhone or iPad, grab my attention, and I am drawn in. It is that eternal search for the ideal app that will bring balance and harmony to my life via keeping my calendar, organizing all my meeting notes, building my task lists automatically, editing and filing my documents, issuing reminders, returning phone calls, making phone calls, as well as clarifying my priorities. In addition, I am looking for the app that will also do my laundry, clean the house, run my errands, fill my gas tank, cook and clean up for me, take my mom to the doctor, organize my social life (or lack thereof), pay my bills, walk the dog (oh, I don’t have a dog) and any other aspects of my life. And oh, the last one — exercise for me. Is this all too much to ask?

Technology has transformed our lives. In some sense, it has made our lives so much more complicated, but in other ways, the universe is at our fingertips. When my kids ask me a question or something I don’t have the answer to my go to response is: “Google It.”

When I first arrived 13 years ago, the MCBA had a website that was about 3-5 years old at the time. To make any changes to the site, even a correction of a name or the posting of a press release PDF would cost us $50/hour, even if it took less than 5 minutes, paid to a consultant, who was not always available. If she was out of town, updates could wait several days.

Over the past 13 years the website and our technology has advanced. But as we all know, you launch something new, and the next day, it is old.

So based on feedback from you, our valued members, and advancements in technology, we have been planning a redesign of the website for more than 6 months now. No small task. Though we are not considered to be a “big bar”, we have a very “big” website, in terms of content because of the extensive programming we do. We have so much information out there, and every single letter and word is managed by this small team.

So as of today, the design is complete, and I have to say, is pretty cool.Very intuitive; pleasing to the eye; very functional. The process started by spending hours combing the internet for designs that we like, favored, envied from other bar associations or just random sites. We had input from engaged and random members along the way, and this has been most helpful. This morning I am in a meeting with Liz Novak, Communications & Membership Manager, and her dedicated creative team, Dajaneé Parrish and Merritt Smith, as they are being toured through the new content management system (CMS). So instead of paying someone outside to manage the content, this talented and dedicated team, will manage all the content internally.

Liz Novak and Dajaneé Parrish

Liz Novak and Dajaneé Parrish

Merritt Smith

Merritt Smith

When I saw the CMS screen being demonstrated through GoTo Meeting, I asked them what they all thought. Unanimously, they all nodded with enthusiasm, their approval of the new system. I on the other hand, was still trying to figure out what CMS stands for. The good news is, they understand it. I don’t need to. I just need to know they do.

Some of the exciting features of the new website are:

  • Dedicated members only areas….much more than before.
  • Direct integration with our membership management system, making registrations for events and CLEs much easier for our members, and eliminating risk of error.
  • Event photo galleries.
  • Mobile responsive — meaning it will adapt to your devices, whether it be a tablet, a smart phone or your desktop.
  • And more…

At this stage, we will be starting the process of updating and moving all the content from the old site to the new site, while also determining, does it need to go at all. The transition of all the data could, in itself, be a 4-6 week project. In addition, there will be a learning curve for all involved – including our members. Much of our website will be “members only” so as members, once you receive your login and password, you’ll need to keep it in a safe place in order to gain access to our website.

However, the first sneak peek will be at the Installation Dinner on June 19th, when outgoing president, Diane Cecero, gives you a preview of this much-anticipated, and did I say, cool, new MCBA website.

Thanks for checking in,





A new year full of new possibilities…

Well the holidays were great!  I loved having all three kids back home and under the same roof on Christmas Eve. They no longer allow me to make them wait at the top of the steps while I go down to “investigate” whether or not Santa arrived. We arrive downstairs together where they, like me, are searching for that first cup of coffee before settling into our gift exchange.

Mary and Family at Christmastime

What I enjoy most about having the three of them together is listening to them talk about their own futures. Aidan will graduate from MCC in the spring, and is determining where he will go next in the fall. He is considering Brockport and still determining his major, while having a good discussion with his siblings about what he is thinking about focusing on. Claire appeared to be experiencing some Dublin-withdrawal as she began acclimating back to life at home. She is already looking for summer internships in Corporate Communications and Public Relations. Though searching primarily in Boston, she also tested me on how I would feel if she wound up back in Europe working for the summer. “Honey, that’s great as long as they pay you a good wage, plus room, board and air travel!” Brian is getting ready to attend his second session at the PGA School in Palm Beach in two weeks. His plan is to be PGA certified in the year ahead, and is looking forward to his own next steps. It was fun to hear them talk about their educational experiences and their plans for careers. And while I felt so hopeful that I had helped raised them to a successful adulthood, they soon dashed my hopes while they argued about who was going to clear the table, load the dishwasher and carry out the trash! Some things never change…

So while all were gone yesterday, and after a week of gatherings, shopping, cooking, and lots of family time, I sequestered myself for New Year’s Eve and quietly entertained a few friends for dinner. I did not leave my house until this morning as I bundled up and headed off to work. Yesterday I enjoyed a quiet day in my fleece and flannels, doing some planning in my head about the second half of the 2013-14 bar year. I always find this time of year exciting. President Diane Cecero is very focused as she recognizes that she is half-way through her term, and together we begin to plan for the next six months. At the same time, I begin to work with President-Elect Steve Modica for the start of his term in July. As is typical, we are having a busy bar year, and believe it or not, things get busier as we head toward spring and the end of the bar year.

Today at noon, the Nominating Committee will be gathering to begin the annual process of determining our next president-elect, secretary and 5 new trustees. One of the things we recognized in an earlier committee meeting, is that we need to increase the large firm representation on the MCBA Board of Trustees. So I was perusing some of the big law firm websites, and much to my dismay, I found many non-members on the firm websites. More troubling was that I found many non-members that are claiming in their bio’s that they are currently members. I know some may still be renewing for this bar year, but more troubling was that many have not been members in years, yet continue to list themselves as an MCBA member. Perhaps this was an innocent oversight, and lack of an update to the site; or perhaps their dues are in process.

Over the years when I explain to friends and family (all potential clients) that the MCBA is a “voluntary bar”, they are always dismayed to learn that attorneys have a choice to join. The question I repeatedly hear back is, “Why wouldn’t they be a member if they practice law in Rochester?” A good question.

So please take a look at your bios, and if you are a member, I invite you to include that in your firm bio if it is not already part of it. My hope is that you are proud of this affiliation, and want your clients and potential clients to know you are a member; it matters more than you may know. If you are not a member, but your bio claims you are a member, I encourage you to first consider joining the bar. Renewing your dues will be much simpler, and will provide a greater value, rather than tracking down your IT staffer to update your bio on the web.

Renewing is so easy, whether you are at at large firm, small firm or at the Hall of Justice, just visit http://www.mcba.org/Members/JointheMCBA/Renew/ You will need your username and password from your dues bill so if you don’t have that, please contact Liz Novak at mailto:lnovak@mcba.org

We are a better bar when we have a broader, more diverse membership. When I say diverse, I mean not only in gender, race, sexual orientation, but also diversity of thinking and opinions. Our focus as a bar requires your active participation to help us move to that next level of being a better bar.

Stay warm and safe during these cold days ahead.

Thanks for checking in!


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to take survey

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

Thanks for checking in…


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