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Home / Expert Opinion / GRAWA President’s Message: GRAWA takes momentum into coming year’s events

GRAWA President’s Message: GRAWA takes momentum into coming year’s events

Melanie Wolk

Melanie Wolk

Every August I find myself asking, “how did we get here again?” Maybe it’s the fact that I know everyone will be returning from their vacations and work will be picking up again; maybe it’s the fact that I know school will be starting soon and we will see the days get shorter and shorter; or maybe its the only month where things slow down enough that I have time to think about the year gone by and the year ahead.

While many people reflect on their lives at the commencement of a new calendar year, I never seem to do so until August. Yet, this time of reflection and planning seems to work for me as it allows me to gear up for the fall, which, as anyone in Rochester knows, if always full of activity in the legal community and the community at large.

I look back over the past year in amazement of the legal community we call home. Our community does so much and does it so well that other legal communities, several much larger, mimic our programming and envy our participation. I recently attended the New York State Women’s Bar Association training (ironically held at West Point) where GRAWA’s membership retention and programming was discussed at length.

Our membership continues to increase (which reminds me, if you have not renewed, the sooner the better to enjoy all our benefits and programs) while many of the other women’s bar associations around the state and nation are decreasing or remain stagnant. We can attribute our continued growth to the dedicated members of our Membership Committee, who strive to make a personal connection with each and every member and potential member.

It has always been GRAWA’s perspective that its members should have a personal connection with one another that runs much deeper than the fact that we all practice law together. This perspective is abundantly evident at the GRAWA New Members Reception, where we welcome, meet and encourage new members to become involved in the legal community in whatever capacity they are comfortable. This year’s New Member Reception is scheduled for Sept. 24, and we will be as welcoming and enjoyable as years past.

GRAWA’s sustainability is also assisted by its committees and their diverse programming. We have annual programs that form the foundation our our programming, including the Judicial Candidates Luncheon, the Annual Holiday Party, SOHO’s cocktail hours, various continuing legal education opportunities, Chamber Chats and Breakfast with Judge Kaye, just to name a few.

Our Family and Careers Committee recently had its Annual Picnic, which was not only well attended but also provided an opportunity for members to have a nice family evening while catching up professionally. Also, GRAWA’s most recent CLE was held in conjunction with the Women’s Bar Association in Buffalo (Western) where the Hon. Nancy E. Smith and Hon. Erin M. Peradotto, associate justices of the Appellate Division in the Fourth Department along with Clerk of the Court, Frances E. Cafarell, discussed appellate law practice and ended the evening with a relaxing and informative dinner. These are just a few examples of recent GRAWA events.

While GRAWA has its tried and true programming, each year we always try something new and innovative. Last year, we started “Guys for GRAWA,” where we held a special cocktail hour for those men who are members and continue to support our mission. It was a pleasure to celebrate so many of our male GRAWA members.

In late winter, we had new members and the board participate in “Bowling with the Board.” While the participants enjoyed the evening, based upon the scores it was clear that none of the board members will be leaving their jobs anytime soon to become professional bowlers. Also, to raise awareness for heart disease in women, GRAWA held a wine and chocolate pairing at Veritas Wine Bar, which produced a sea of people wearing red. GRAWA truly has something for everyone, from Book and Dinner Clubs to our Women’s Health Committee and Women’s Connections.

A smile comes to my face as I reflect on all that has been done in GRAWA in the past, as I enjoy being involved with an organization that provides so many different opportunities to its members. Reflection, however, quickly turns to the future of GRAWA for the upcoming year — and what a year it is going to be!

Not only do we start off our fall activities with the New Member Reception but we also have our Judicial Candidates Luncheon scheduled for Oct. 10 at Nixon Peabody, which is consistently sold-out. Our committees have been hard at work over the last two months planning innovative continuing legal education opportunities, convocations and programming events.

While we are still finalizing many of the dates and times, we can tell you to expect Spa Night to return to GRAWA and a first ever “FUN”raiser, where only two people know who will be providing the entertainment (and I am not one of them) on Nov. 7. I know that there is something out there for every one of our members to enjoy this year and I encourage each of you to enjoy all that GRAWA has to offer.

On a personal note, we gave birth to a wonderful baby boy, Redmond, in mid-June. My husband, Jeremy Wolk (also an attorney with Nixon Peabody and Guy for GRAWA), and I are very proud and slightly sleep-deprived parents. As one would expect, this new addition to our family has changed our lives so much in such a short time.

Redmond is generally a low-key, easy-going baby, which makes me wonder how Jeremy and I could have had such a child. Adding a new child to your family unit changes your perspective and how you plan for the future, whether it is the short term, when I return to work in September or planning for his long-term future.

While I cannot say how our new addition will affect us over the long haul, I can say, it has given me an entirely new perspective which I am still trying to decipher. One thing is for certain, my colleagues in GRAWA are always there to lend support, add perspective and impart personal wisdom.

Melanie S. Wolk is Special Counsel with the law firm of Goldberg Segalla, LLP is the thirty-first President of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys.