President’s Message

June 2022

As we embark upon the New York Women’s Bar Association’s 88th year, I am honored and humbled to have been elected to serve this Association, following in the footsteps of accomplished and stalwart leaders. I look forward to the year to come, and the many (hopefully in person!) opportunities it will bring to further our mission of advancing the status of women and ensuring the fair and equal administration of justice.

The NYWBA mission is as important now as it has ever been. As I write this, the constitutionally protected right women have over their own reproductive health is in jeopardy. And while we know that abortion rights will be directly affected, other essential rights, including same sex marriage and access to birth control, hang by a thread. This is a call to action. NYWBA’s Reproductive Rights Committee, led by Meaghan E. Carey, Alexandra King, and Lydia Devine, is on the forefront of answering that call and held a panel discussion State of the Uterus: If Roe Falls, What is Next for New York on May 19th on how the recently leaked Supreme Court Decision could affect New Yorkers’ right to abortion and to explore what we can do in New York to help all women have access to safe reproductive care.

The reproductive rights crisis comes on the heels of the pandemic, the effects of which have disproportionately affected women as the lion’s share of childcare and housework fell on their shoulders. As a result, many women left the workforce or are considering leaving the workforce—particularly in the legal industry. The burn out is real. Law firms and legal organizations should be investing in women and supporting them, enabling those who left the ranks to return, and creating an environment that is more flexible, hospitable, and which recognizes the tremendous value that women bring to the practice of law over the breadth of their careers.

One way we can support women remaining in and/or returning to the law is through the NYWBA’s Mentoring Circles Program. The Mentoring Circles Program led by Melissa Ephron-Mandel and Jocelyn L. Jacobson allows members at all stages of their careers to join with their peers to foster their personal and professional development. Members benefit from direct mentoring as they share ideas for meeting challenges in their careers and personal lives in a supportive and encouraging environment. One of my goals is to reinvigorate this committee and I am calling on our members to join and become a mentor. To collaborate in this effort, please reach out to MentoringCircles@nywba.org.

And of course, if you have any interest in chairing a committee, putting together a program, writing an article, or being considered for our board, please let me know by reaching out to me at President@nywba.org.

I want to acknowledge and express gratitude to Amanda B. Norejko for her remarkable service to this Association over the years, and particularly the last two years as our fearless leader. It has been through her dedication, determination, and indomitable spirit that the NYWBA has thrived in spite of the pandemic, transitioning seamlessly to virtual events and programs when in-person options were not available.

As the pandemic ebbed, the NYWBA slowly returned to in-person events. The Programs and Events Committee’s in-person event, The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, offered a private tour of the New York Historical Society’s seminal exhibit on the late Justice Ginsburg. Our first large in-person event, the Annual Judges Reception held on March 3, 2022, felt unusually celebratory as colleagues and friends saw each other, many for the first time in two years, and reconnected throughout the evening. The Matrimonial and Family Law Committee’s An Evening With Justices Chesler and Waterman-Marshall on April 27, 2022 was a big success along with the follow up event Meet The Judges Part 2! An Evening with the Hon. Ariel D. Chesler and Esther B. Cajuste, Esq. The NYWBA’s Cycle for Survival: New York cycling event on Saturday May 21, 2022 to raise money for rare cancer research also offered a chance to gather with friends and colleagues in person for a worthy cause.

In-person congratulations were also extended to NYWBA Past President Virginia A. LoPreto and long time board member and former NYWBA Officer Hon. Laura Drager (Ret.) who, on May 5, 2022, were honored at the FamilyKind 10th Anniversary Gala. Virginia received the FamilyKind Service Award and Judge Drager received The Honorable Sondra M. Miller Award. These are honors that are well deserved indeed.

The NYWBA continues to be unflagging in its commitment to provide free CLE offerings to our members. Recent CLEs have included the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee’s April 5, 2022 CLE: Applying an Equity Lens to Pro Bono, the May 5, 2022 CLE, Computer Tech Skills Every Lawyer Needs to Know held by the Solo and Small Firm Practice, Student and New Lawyers and Civil Courts Committees, and Re-Thinking Careers in Post Pandemic World Discussion presented by the Litigation and Students and New Lawyers Committees on May 10, 2022, and The Ethics of Pro Bono Practice, held by the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee on May 26, 2022, to name a few.

The first event during my term is the annual program that NYWBA created and now co-sponsor with the New York City Bar on “What It’s REALLY Like to Practice Law as a Woman,” on July 19, 2022, where our distinguished panel of women lawyers will provide insights and guidance to hundreds of law students and junior attorneys just starting their legal careers. I thank the incomparable Hon. Lisa A. Sokoloff and Martha E. (“Meg”) Gifford together with NYWBA members Melissa F. Glassman, Ernestine J. Mings, and Crystal R. Villaseñor, for organizing this tremendous program once again this year.

As we kick off the new term, I also encourage everyone to join or to renew their NYWBA membership. Our membership year begins on June 1 and I urge you to enlist your colleagues to renew their membership or to join as new members. It is through our numbers that we can make a difference in advancing the status of women in the legal profession and in society at large.

I thank everyone for their hard work in planning our Annual Installation & Awards Gala on June 16, 2022 at Tribeca 360°, where Awards of Recognition will be presented to the Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy and Hon. Saliann Scarpulla. The Florence E. Allen Award will be presented to Hon. Sherry Klein Heitler, and The Doris S. Hoffman Service Award will be presented to Hon. Judith S. Gische.

I also want to extend the heartiest of congratulations to incoming President of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, Deborah G. Rosenthal, Past-President of NYWBA. I look forward to working together.

And, as always, I am ever grateful to the incredible Karen Lu without whom we certainly could not manage to do it all. I look forward to seeing the NYWBA Officers, Board of Directors and WBASNY Delegates, sworn in to kick off the 2022-2023 year.

I look forward to working with all of you in the year to come.

Magnolia