A Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY)
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Interview of the Month

An Interview with Kristen Motel

Susan L. Pollet
Chair of the Archive and Historian Committee

Q: Why did you become a member of the WWBA and in which ways have you been involved in the organization?

A: I became a member of the WWBA when I was a student at Pace Law School. I found friendly faces and a supportive network through the WWBA – the members were happy to provide guidance and advice.  As a student member, I served on the WWBA Environmental and Land Use Committee and assisted with planning a CLE. I was honored to receive the Sondra Miller Scholarship from the WWBA Foundation as a 3L. Since then, I have developed great relationships through the organization – both personal and professional. Last year, I served as a Board member and this year I am thrilled to serve as a Vice President!  As VP, I plan to focus on increasing membership among new lawyers and improving our social media presence (follow us on Instagram @westchester_womens_bar).


Q: Please tell us about your legal career and what you hope to accomplish.

A:  My career started with clerking for the judges at the Connecticut Superior Court.  With the assistance of a WWBA member whom I developed a close relationship with, I transitioned into an associate position at Cuddy & Feder where I practice land use and environmental law.  I practice in an area of law I am passionate about and one of the best parts about being a land use lawyer is that my schedule is never the same.  I don’t know what the next day will bring - one night I can be at a City Council meeting until midnight and other days I will be hiking through wetlands or doing a site walk on abandoned property being considered for redevelopment.  I prefer not to have the same routine everyday so for me, the job is thrilling.  I am proud to serve on Cuddy & Feder’s Diversity Committee, which advises Management on firm policies and practices.

      I hope to grow my career in environmental and land use law while continuing my contributions to improve global sustainability and women’s empowerment.  Depending on what the future holds, I would consider running for a political office.  Making a positive impact and improving the world we live in is something that was stressed to me growing up and I try to make it a priority. 


Q: What advice do you have for new lawyers entering the profession?

A: Be ready to work hard.  Now is the time to put in the extra effort. Know that you are absolutely going to make mistakes.  Be ready to take ownership, learn from them and move forward when you do.  Also, I have found it very helpful to build relationships with your peers and develop a network to support you. 


Q: When you are not lawyering, what other activities are you engaged in?

A: My family owns a farm vineyard and winery in Connecticut and my husband works there. When I am not lawyering, I am usually helping out at the vineyard.  I enjoy gardening and have planted some large flower gardens at my house that keep me busy!  I am in the process of volunteering with a non-profit organization that focuses on women’s empowerment through environmental and agricultural sustainability in South America. It’s amazing that programs like this are being launched.  They have the potential to lift entire villages out of poverty. My connection to that organization grew from building my network through the WWBA – it definitely pays off!  I am also on the board of directors for a women’s mentoring organization at the University of Rhode Island called WOWW that I founded when I was an undergraduate.  As an alumni, I mentor graduating students to assist in their transition from student life to professional careers.  Being part of a supportive network for women in transition is so rewarding.  I have met some incredible people.   


Q: How have you balanced your work and home life?

A: To be honest, it’s difficult. Having grown up in a family business, work was often integrated with my home life. I do try to take time in the morning before work to garden and start the day doing something I love. Being a land use lawyer, I often attend night meetings so my evening schedule can be tricky. I also make a point to use all of my vacation time every year and take trips to places I have never been.  In the last few years, I have backpacked Yellowstone, hiked the Yucatan jungle, visited Napa/Sonoma, and island hopped on a sailboat in the Caribbean. Adventure helps me relax!

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