Interview of the Month
An Interview with Hon. Helen M. Blackwood
Susan L. Pollet
Q: Tell us about your legal career, prior to becoming a Judge, and as a Judge.
A: After receiving my JD, I obtained an LLM in Taxation. I worked in the private sector as in-house corporate tax counsel for approximately twenty years. After leaving the private sector, I became Corporation Counsel for the City of Mount Vernon where I served for seven years. I was appointed Mount Vernon City Court Judge by Mayor Clinton I. Young in 2009.
Q: Why did you want to become a Judge, and what are your biggest challenges serving on the bench?
A: I cannot say that becoming a judge was my life ambition. I enjoyed my tenure as Mount Vernon Corporation Counsel as it provided challenging legal issues in a wide variety of areas from employment law to real estate development and financing. Becoming a judge in Mount Vernon was a continuation of my public service, and provided the opportunity to make decisions that directly and immediately affected the daily lives of the individuals of Mount Vernon.
Q: What advice do you have for women lawyers entering the legal profession?
A: I would advise women lawyers to find a mentor, take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way to network with people outside of their milieu, and not be afraid of change; accept invitations to events and volunteer with community service organizations. I began my career in the public sector as First Assistant Corporation Counsel in Mount Vernon. I was offered that position while still working as an in-house corporate tax attorney. I happened to attend a charity fundraising luncheon at the New York Hilton where I encountered Mayor Ernest Davis. At the time, I was just beginning to think about a career change, and after that chance encounter, we spoke further and he offered me the position.
Q: What are your suggestions for how the Westchester Women’s Bar Association can continue to help women and families?
A: The WWBA can provide women the opportunity to make new connections and network. This exposure can assist in client development, career changes, or simply the opportunity to meet women who have similar goals and challenges.
Q: How has the practice of law changed in Westchester County over the years?
A: From the perspective of a judge, the change I see most on a day to day basis is the increasing number of women on the bench.
A: I am a member of community service organizations and I enjoy travel
Q: How have you balanced work and family life over the years?
A: I am not sure that I have balanced work and family. Life is about choices and compromise.