New York, NY, Tuesday, December 20, 2022 – The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) is proud to announce that its nominee and member, the Hon. Elizabeth Wolford, Chief Judge, Western District of New York has been chosen as the recipient of the New York State Bar Association’s (“NYSBA”) 2022 Ruth G. Schapiro Memorial Award! WBASNY extends a hearty congratulations to Judge Wolford, who is also a past President of the Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys (“GRAWA”), a chapter of WBASNY.
The Ruth G. Schapiro Memorial Award honors a member of NYSBA who has made a noteworthy contribution to address the concerns of women. Judge Wolford certainly exemplified this standard.
In 2013, President Barack H. Obama appointed Judge Wolford as the first woman to hold the position of Federal District Court Judge in the Western District of New York. In July 2021, Judge Wolford became Chief Judge, and she is the first woman to hold that position. As one of her mentees commented Judge Wolford’s presence on the bench signaled to others that “much more was possible than had been before” and the “transformative power of her accomplishments cannot be overstated.”
Additionally, Judge Wolford was among the first to implement a rule for her chambers that “encourages litigants to permit more junior members of the litigation team to examine witnesses at trials and hearings and to appear for oral argument before the court.” An overwhelming majority of judges adopted a similar chambers rule. While the rule applies to all junior attorneys, its impact has been a positive for women. As a result, more women and junior attorneys have appeared in Judge Wolford’s courtroom to participate in oral arguments and litigation. The rule is having its intended effect, and young women attorneys have a role model in Judge Wolford. Judge Wolford has always made it a priority to mentor women attorneys and is a true advocate for access and equity for women in the legal profession.
Judge Wolford, since the beginning of her career, has been, and continues to be, committed to providing and improving access to pro bono services and access to justice. Judge Wolford is an exemplary example of a member of the legal community who considers it a priority to open doors for women in the law and in the community at large.
In commenting on this award, WBASNY President, Deborah Rosenthal stated that “Judge Wolford is one of many past WBASNY nominees for this award, as WBASNY is uniquely positioned to nominate qualified candidates who have made noteworthy contributions to address the concerns of women.” Some of the Past WBASNY nominee recipients of the Ruth G. Schapiro Memorial Award include Hon. Leslie E. Stein (2021); Hon. Rosalyn Richter (2019); and Deborah Scalise, Esq. (2018).
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) is the professional membership organization of choice for nearly 4,000 attorneys throughout New York State and the largest statewide women’s bar association in the country. For more than four decades, WBASNY has been a singularly important resource for women lawyers, providing professional networking, continuing legal education programming, leadership training, and advocacy for the rights of women, children, and families. Through involvement with WBASNY’s 20 regional chapters and its 40-plus substantive law committees, WBASNY’s members collaborate with one another on a variety of issues and perform public and community service, in furtherance of its mission to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and women in the legal profession; to promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and to act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to women generally and women attorneys in particular. WBASNY holds United Nations NGO status with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information, and Special Consultative status in association with the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). WBASNY is also a founding member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.