BAEC Bulletin - May/June 2023

4 | May/June 2023 | BAEC Bulletin

Letter from the President

embeds diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in everything we do. All are welcome. All can have a seat at the table. All are valued. Everyone has a voice and we want to hear it. If you are an attorney in Erie County, you belong in this Association here. Period. In friendships: In the past two years, I have met and befriended so many attorneys and Association staff with whom I would never have crossed paths in the course of my work at Rich Products. Mostly, our Board, including Immediate Past President Hugh Russ who set the bar so high for me; Tim Graber, your President Elect, who knows and has stories about so many of you and never says a bad word about anyone; Gayle Murphy and Sarah Washington, both extraordinary women; the dedicated team of people that helped me with our strategic plan; Anne Noble, your Executive Director who positioned me for success this entire year, and Stephanie, Susan, Celeste, Heidi, Leslie, Chase, David, Alicia and Jackie. I am so grateful for these friendships and the opportunity to work with and get to know such extraordinary people. I end my presidency with a bigger “network” and a fuller heart than when I started. In criticism: Yeah, I got some of that too. I followed my heart and did what I thought was best for this organization. I know that not everyone agreed with every position I took. I am sorry if my words or actions offended anyone. That was never my intention and I take that feedback very seriously. In gratitude: I am grateful for the opportunity, the support, the friendships, the growth. All in all, I would say that this year was a lot of work, and also the best year of my career. I thank all you who put your trust in me to give me this position and all those who helped make this a year that I will look back on so fondly. I am honored to be joining this organization’s Past Presidents who continue to support the organization and its Presidents in profound ways. As with all my letters, I dedicate this letter. I have saved the best for last. Hugh Russ wrote in one of his letters that it is hard to be married to a lawyer. I think that’s especially true when two lawyers marry. I like to say no one ever wins a fight in my marriage. I fell in love with my husband Keith my first year of law school. He was my Research & Writing TA. I am sure that wouldn’t fly these days, but one of my classmates actually married a professor and several of us fell for our TAs! He was two years ahead of me in law school and had already accepted a job with the Manhattan DA’s office when we began dating second semester. We continued our relationship long distance with the help of People’s Express $19 flights between Newark and Buffalo. Keith returned to Buffalo after 3 years in NYC and he has been by my side ever since. Together we raised three amazing kids while balancing our careers. I have shared my mental health and alcohol struggles previously, and I know it was hard for Keith when I was no longer the person he had fallen in love with. But he never left and he supported me through my struggles and my recovery. Of course the move toward recovery is a positive one, but recovery is actually a stressful time for a marriage. When, through counseling, I started to feel better about myself, I questioned every aspect of my life, even the best parts. During that time, our whole dynamic changed, ultimately for the better, but the process was difficult—for both of us. But Keith did what he has always done and it is what I admire most about him. He continued to actively work on being a better husband, father, lawyer—a better man. I have never known anyone who was more dedicated to this concept than Keith. I have had my ups and downs, but Keith has always been a rock. I couldn’t ask for a better life partner. He has always been able to make me laugh, even on our darkest days. And we have had so many more wonderful days. So I dedicate this letter and everything I do to my best friend, soulmate and love of my life. I leave you all with words and wishes from my favorite song: I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,

JILL K. BOND President Bar Association of Erie County

“525,600 Minutes, How do you measure a year?” (“Seasons of Love” from Rent) This is my last letter for this Bulletin--the end of my year as BAEC President. It was a busy year, and it went so fast. How can I measure this year? In meetings, phone calls and events: I couldn’t have possibly kept count. There were a lot of meetings, but each was important as we endeavored to steer this organization in ways that best serve our members. We tried so hard to get people together, and when we did, people were reminded why it is so much better to be in the same room. At the Law Day Luncheon, we had 250 people and the mood in the room was electric! It felt so good to see people interacting like the old days. I hope this movement gains steam. The isolation of the pandemic exacerbated some of the mental health issues so prevalent in our profession. In speeches: A couple weeks ago, I moderated a panel for the Young Lawyers’ Committee’s Life After Law School. It was so much fun with an esteemed panel talking about what they have learned that they wish they had known early in their careers. It was inspiring and a reminder of what terrific people we have practicing law in Western New York. We had a preparatory meeting the day before the session, at which I asked, “oh, am I moderating this panel?” After the meeting, Anne Noble said that she had to laugh because the Director of CLE, Alicia Quebral, had said prior to the meeting that she wasn’t sure I realized that I was the moderator. Anne said that she knew I would be fine; something like, “She could do this in her sleep.” It was funny hearing that because , for a good part of my career, I had pretty severe anxiety about public speaking. I once asked for advice from someone whose speaking ability I admire. He told me his secret is to do a lot of it. After that advice, I never turned down an opportunity to speak in front of an audience, despite the anxiety. It took time, but it worked. Being President gave me the opportunity to “practice” 25 times or so. I still wish I were better, but I don’t get worked up like I did a few years ago. I am comfortable being my authentic self, even though I am no JFK, MLK or Kevin Spitler. And that’s a good thing. In accomplishments: The Association accomplished so much this year. What I am most proud of is our Strategic Plan. The organization was founded in 1887 and had a mission statement which reflected that era. Our Association looks different today and our members’ needs have changed 136 years later. Our Strategic Plan reflects what our members told us they need and want from the Association. The Plan will help our staff allocate time and our limited resources in ways that best support our mission. Some things haven’t changed—we still value the camaraderie that comes with practicing law in Erie County. We know our members rely on us for CLE. But this plan also focuses on wellness. I am quite sure this was a taboo topic in 1887 and we know how important it is in 2023. Healthy lawyers are better lawyers and practicing law causes stress and vicarious trauma. Our wellness services are crucial in addressing the work/ life stresses, depression, anxiety and substance use disorders plaguing our profession. Perhaps most importantly, our plan

You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger, May you never take one single breath for granted, God forbid love ever leave you empty handed, I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, When one door closes, I hope one more opens, Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. Mark D. Sanders & Tia Sillers

With gratitude, Jill •

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