President's Message - December 2023/January 2024
by Amanda K. Rieben
Happy New Year! With a new year upon us, we often reflect on the past year and what we are thankful for, and as we so often do, we make new year’s resolutions for the year to come. This year, I want to express my gratitude to the WWBA, its membership, board, and officers and directors for your continued support. I also want to encourage our readership, as one of your new year’s resolutions to help the WWBA increase our membership.
Why? Because the WWBA is one of your local bar associations, comprised of lawyers and judges, who live and/or work in Westchester County that can help connect you with various resources and with other members in the legal community. The WWBA is also currently the second largest chapter of our parent organization, the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”), which is the largest statewide women’s bar association in the country. Through WBASNY, the WWBA provides its membership with the opportunity to have an influential voice regarding various legislative, judicial and public policy matters at the state level. The WWBA also offers several networking opportunities, legal seminars, Continuing Legal Education programs, social events, including but not limited to the WWBA Holiday Party and Annual Dinner, as well as a robust mentorship program. We also partner with many community providers, to help support the public in both a legal and non-legal capacity.
For me, the WWBA represents much more than this. The WWBA is critical to the development and success of the next generation of lawyers, and is one of the pinnacles of our legal community. It is hard to believe, but when I first joined the WWBA over nine years ago after the birth of my first daughter, I did not know anyone who lived and/or worked in Westchester County. This rapidly changed thanks to our members, many of whom instinctively devoted their time to supporting, mentoring, and encouraging my professional and personal growth. I can confidently say that the WWBA has had a positive life-long lasting impact on my career and professional development, and I am certain that many other members share my sentiment.
I want to help ensure that current and future law students and lawyers are afforded the same opportunities I have had through the WWBA. This is why I am now calling upon you, our readership, to help the WWBA increase our membership numbers. The size of our membership directly correlates to the far-reaching impact that we can have on our legal community. Our membership numbers also affect the number of delegates who can attend the WBASNY State-Wide Board meetings, which in turn impacts the number of our votes on policies and other state-wide matters. On or before January 31, 2024, our goal is to reach 400 members who have joined or renewed their WWBA membership during our Second Certification period (October 1, 2023, through January 31, 2024). We currently have 357 members who count toward our certification.
While one can easily access numerous legal seminars and CLE programs online, there is no substitute for the personal connections and individual guidance that an individual can receive through a bar organization and its supportive members. Additionally, the WWBA also has an amazing mentorship program, currently comprised of 54 lawyers, who mentor 63 law students. Through the mentorship program, the WWBA also hosts several events, including three upcoming evening events on February 6th, March 13th, and April 2nd, at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in the Tudor Room. The February event will include a panel on Family Law moderated by students. In March the mentorship committee is hosting a speed networking event which will enable students to move from table to table to ask questions of each “mentor.” In April a career panel featuring diverse practitioners will offer students the opportunity to inquire about the practice of law in various substantive fields and settings such as government, private practice, and education. These types of events also afford law students invaluable guidance and support, particularly at the beginning of that individual’s legal career. In fact, our mentorship program has been so successful that other chapters of WBASNY have sought guidance from our Co-Chairs (Christine Paska, Sherry Bishko, and the Honorable Kim Berg) on how to implement their own successful mentorship programs.
My challenge to you this January is to reach out to your co-workers, your friends, and at least one law student that you may know, and encourage them to join the WWBA. This challenge will not only impact the WWBA’s involvement at the state level, but it will also benefit the next generation of lawyers.