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Legal Excellence Awards honorees announced

The Rochester Business Journal and The Daily Record have announced the honorees for the 2021 Legal Excellence Awards.

Legal Excellence is a new program started by the Rochester Business Journal and The Daily Record to take their legal recognition awards to the next level by combining the Corporate Counsel, Excellence in Law and Attorneys of the Year awards. Legal Excellence pays tribute to all the ways legal professionals work to make the Greater Rochester community stronger.

Awards are presented in the following categories: Civil Legal Services, In House Counsel, Law Firm Administrator, Law Firm Diversity, Law Firm Innovation, Leaders in Law, Lifetime Achievement, Paralegal, Pro Bono Excellence and Up and Coming Lawyers.

“This year’s Legal Excellence recipients work tirelessly to uphold the highest legal standards and improve communities throughout Western New York. They are actively engaged in the community and mentor other leaders as well,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, senior group publisher of The Daily Record and Rochester Business Journal. “They perform vital services in the community, and we are honored to recognize them.”

The honorees will be recognized during an online celebration Nov. 15 from noon to 1 p.m. Each will be celebrated for their achievements through video storytelling. Guests will have the opportunity to participate in the program with their congratulations and cheers using social media platforms from their homes or offices. For tickets, visit or The event hashtags are #TDRevents and #RBJevents.

A VIP reception for honorees and sponsors will be held Nov. 15 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Rochester, 125 East Main St. in Rochester.

Honorees will be profiled in the Nov. 16 issue of The Daily Record and in the Nov. 19 issue of the Rochester Business Journal and online at and

For information about sponsorships and tickets for the 2021 Legal Excellence Awards, visit or or email Suzanne Fischer-Huettner at [email protected].

The 2021 honorees are:

Civil Legal Services

  • Lakeshia McCloud, Legal Assistance of Western New York Inc.

In House Counsel

  • Paul Ciminelli, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Susan Sturman Jennings, Conifer Realty LLC
  • Alison Moyer, Rochester City School District
  • Thomas O’Gara, LeChase Construction Services LLC
  • Lisa Santelli, Lifetime Healthcare Companies/Excellus Health Plan

Law Firm Administrator

  • Curtis Burnett, Nixon Peabody LLP
  • Marie Calvaruso, Harris Beach PLLC
  • Cheryl Jordan, Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy
  • Rhonda Noto, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
  • John Taddeo, Wesley Clark & Peshkin
  • Sarah Wegener, Focus Practice Management

Law Firm Diversity

  • Phillips Lytle LLP

Law Firm Innovation

  • Littler

Leaders in Law

  • Kevin Clark, Wesley Clark & Peshkin LLP
  • Mark Funk, Monroe County Conflict Defender
  • F. Paul Greene, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
  • Connor O’Brien, Social Security Administration
  • The Hon. Fatimat Reid, Monroe County Family Court
  • Christian Valentino, Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC

Lifetime Achievement

  • Harold Kurland, Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy
  • Ruhi Maker, Empire Justice Center
  • Sharon Stiller, Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone LLP
  • Michael Wolford, Bond, Schoeneck & King


  • Brandi Burton, Tracy Jong Law Firm
  • Beth Churchill, ColomboLawOffice
  • Amy Demanchick, Adams Leclair LLP
  • Marilyn Myers, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
  • Carrie Schreiner, Faraci Lange LLP
  • Emily Short, Monroe County Public Defender’s Office

Pro Bono Excellence

  • Maria Cubillos Reed, Cubillos Reed Law PLLC

Up and Coming Lawyers

  • Justin Alexander, Underberg & Kessler LLP
  • Iskra M. Bonanno, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
  • Leigh Ann Chute, The Legal Aid Society of Rochester, NY Inc.
  • Erin Elmouji, Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP
  • Patrick Leavy, Vahey Law Offices PLLC
  • William Leinen, Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy LLP
  • Sarah Lobe, Nixon Peabody LLP
  • Kinsey O’Brien, Hodgson Russ LLP
  • Theresa Rusnak, Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC
  • Laura K. Schwalbe, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
  • Mallory Smith, Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC
  • Sarah Weigelt, Legal Assistance of Western New York Inc.
  • Jacob Zoghlin, The Zoghlin Group PLLC