A special term of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department was called to order Wednesday at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre to administer the oath of office to 244 candidates who recently passed the New York bar exam. Approximately 45 percent of the candidates were women.
The Appellate Division Clerk of Court, Frances E. Cafarell, introduced Justice Nancy E. Smith, who served as the justice presiding, since newly appointed Presiding Justice Gerald J. Whalen was in Albany for the State of the State address.
Serving with Justice Smith for the brief court session were the Hon. Edward D. Carni, Hon. John V. Centra, Hon. Brian F. DeJoseph, Hon. Stephen K. Lindley, Hon. Erin M. Peradotto, and Hon. Henry J. Scudder.
This year’s keynote address was delivered by recently appointed U.S. District Court Judge of the Western District of New York, the Hon. Lawrence J. Vilardo.
Judge Vilardo joined the federal bench last October, filling the seat vacated by Judge Richard Arcara, who took senior status earlier in 2015. A Buffalo native and Harvard Law graduate, Judge Vilardo first congratulated the recent law school graduates, welcoming them to the legal profession.
Complementing the bar admittees on their intelligence, perseverance, and commitment, he asked them to stand and give a round of applause to “all the parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and family who saw you through these many years.”
He proceeded to share “what you really need to know to become a good lawyer.” Reviewing 10 common-sense rules of life, he provided concrete examples for several of the points.
“No. 1, treat everyone with the same respect,” Judge Vilardo began. “Two, when you borrow something, give it back in better shape than you received it. If you use a form someone has given you, proofread it, improve the wording, show your appreciation … and No. 3, share what you have with others.”
His “rules” included recommendations like never make a statement unless you know for sure it is true, and always do the best you can do.
“Every letter you write has your name on it, make sure it is as perfect as possible,” he said. “Work as hard for every client as you would want someone to work for you.”
Rochester Black Bar President Shani C. Mitchell reviewed the benefits of belonging to a bar association, encouraging the Rochester-based bar candidates to join the Monroe County Bar Association, the Black Bar and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys.
A Rochester native herself, Mitchell explained that she spent the early part of her legal career in Atlanta before returning to the Monroe County District Attorney’s office in 2013.
“Bar associations are a great source of networking, which can lead to job opportunities,” she stated. “It’s a great way to find mentors, and a resource for building social relationships.”
The candidates were sworn in by the clerk of the court before the session was adjourned. The full list of candidates is here.