President & CEO
The Legal Aid Society of Rochester NY
Years in current role: 6 years as CEO, 37 years at Legal Aid Society
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Leading an agency into its 100th-year anniversary with a dedicated mission and staff who ensure that those who are most vulnerable have access to justice. Being CEO has allowed me to set the tone of inclusiveness and compassion, and to facilitate the growth and development of the agency to address the unmet legal needs of the community in Monroe and the surrounding counties. Being the voice of LASROC has allowed me to shed light on those who are most in need, be their champion, and ensure that they also have a voice.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us in a week’s time to pivot and implement what was a fledgling “disaster plan” in real time. We closed our doors to the public and instituted a remote work environment. Within that week we had almost everyone — 100 employees and interns — set up to work from home. With that accomplished the next biggest challenge was to keep everyone connected, addressing their fears and feelings of isolation and ensuring that our clients knew that we were still open and ready to assist them. Meeting this challenge took courage, transparency and compassion.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the legal industry in the next 3-5 years?
The pandemic has forced us to reexamine what we took to be the norms in how we practice law. We learned, however, that we can work differently and still be effective and efficient. I see an on-going hybrid work model combining both in office and remote work, virtual court settings and virtual meetings. Although I do see and hear the need from my staff to return to more in-person environments, I also believe we will not need to conduct business in the same way as before; the silver lining is an opportunity to redesign the way we conduct the practice of law
What advice would you give law students who are graduating this year?
Consider a career in public interest law! It is an opportunity to give back to the community in an environment that values work-life balance and an opportunity to join a movement that advocates justice for all.
What are you most looking forward to doing as COVID restrictions ease?
Celebrating LASROC’s 100th anniversary with our staff, clients, and community! We’ll be holding events throughout the upcoming year to bring attention to the legal needs of area residents and how LASROC will continue to serve those that need it most.