Susan L. Pollet
Chair of the Archive and Historian Committee
Q: When did you join the
WWBA, and why did you join it?
A: I occasionally attended events hosted
by the WWBA in the past, but officially joined a little over a year ago. It was important to me to network with other
women similarly situated and to share my experiences and knowledge with women
starting their legal careers.
Q: Which WWBA activities
have you been involved in?
A: I am the co-chair of the criminal law
Q: Please tell our members
about your legal career.
A: I began my career in the Westchester
County District Attorney’s Office right out of law school. When I started, I worked in the Appeals and
Special Litigation Division writing motions, as most ADA’s do. Next, I worked in the Grand Jury and Local
Courts Division in branches in Mount Vernon, Yonkers, and Northern
Westchester. After that, I worked in the
Career Criminal Bureau of the Superior Court Trial Division prosecuting felony
cases. In 2007, I became the Deputy
Chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau in the Special Prosecutions Division
where I prosecuted domestic violence and child abuse cases, and supervised
other attorneys doing the same. After
several years, I began to explore other professional opportunities and in
January of 2016, joined Westchester County Court Judge Helen M. Blackwood as
her Principal Court Attorney. Since
2018, Judge Blackwood has been designated as an Acting Supreme Court Justice
handling civil matters, and in 2019, Acting Surrogate Judge. Additionally, she is one of the two Youth
Part judges in Westchester County under the recent Raise the Age legislation,
so I’ve really learned so much more than I ever expected to in this role.
Q: In your experience, how
has the landscape changed over the course of your legal career, if at all, for
women law students and women lawyers in Westchester County.
A: While in law school, I interned at a
personal injury law firm, the DA’s Office, and for a Kings County Court
Judge. During that time, as well as in
the early part of my career, I felt like I was surrounded by men everywhere I
went. About half way through my career,
that seemed to change. I started noticing the moments when there were more
females in the courtroom than men – the judge was a woman, the prosecutor (me)
was a woman, and the defense attorney was a woman. Those were memorable moments for me and now
they occur quite frequently. I’m proud
to say that today, there are more women on the Westchester County Court bench
than men – this was not the case when I began my legal career. It pleases me to
see that for the most part, the legal community of Westchester County offers
more professional opportunities to women than ever before. Of course, there’s always progress to be
made, and I think the existence of the WWBA is instrumental in attaining that
Q: What are your other
community activities when you are not practicing law or contributing to the
A: I have been every active in the PTA at
my children’s schools and volunteer in their extracurricular activities as much
as possible. I’m also a member of my
town’s Democratic Committee, as well as the Democratic Club.
Q: How have you balanced
your legal career with your family responsibilities over the years.
A: Balancing work and family-life has been
the biggest challenge of my career, and frankly, I’m still working on it. I am
extremely fortunate to have my parents close by and have relied on them for
help with my children throughout the years.
Also, I have been very lucky to find excellent care-givers for my
children. I believe that a supportive
partner and good, reliable help are the keys to making it all work. Surprisingly, as my children got older, they
needed me more, not less, which is not what I expected. As they say, little children, little
problems, big children, big problems, and that is definitely true! One of the
reasons why I left the DA’s Office when I did was because I was struggling with
balancing my job, particularly trying cases, and handling all of my family
responsibilities. My current position
allows me to balance my career and my family much better and still offers me
the professional fulfillment I need.
Q: What advice would you
like to give to women lawyers entering the legal profession.
A: A very dear
friend and colleague of mine once advised me that you can have it all, just not
at the same time and I’ve never forgotten those words. If you choose to have a family, don’t be
afraid to take a step back from your career or make a change in your career to
simplify things. There’s absolutely no
shame in making that choice, despite what you may be feeling. Opportunities
will be waiting for you when you’re ready to find them.