NEW YORK -- For the second consecutive year, a Rochester lawyer has been named Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year by the New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) Young Lawyers Section.
Elizabeth A. Wolford, a partner in the law firm of Wolford & Leclair LLP, was recognized for her significant contributions to the betterment of the community and the legal profession. The award was presented on Wednesday, January 22 during the NYSBA’s 126th annual meeting in New York City.
Wolford received her undergraduate degree from Colgate University (1989) and earned her law degree from Notre Dame Law School (1992) where she was an editor of the law review. Wolford concentrates her law practice in all areas of litigation, including commercial, healthcare, personal injury and employment litigation.
David P. Miranda of Albany (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti PC), chair of the 3,000-member Young Lawyers Section said, “Elizabeth Wolford’s selfless devotion to public service and commitment to professionalism are the hallmarks of a young lawyer. She is a prime example of a young lawyer who provides leadership in serving the public and the profession, and promoting excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law.”
Judges and lawyers, including those who have been opposing counsel, cite Wolford’s skills in organization, preparation and trial techniques. In her letter of recommendation, Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Frazee, said, “She exhibits outstanding leadership skills, legal abilities, and a sense of commitment to the bar and her clients. She has an understanding and appreciation for the need of each lawyer to contribute to the community and to maintain and improve the bar and the public’s trust and confidence in it.”
In addition to the Rochester women’s bar, her professional affiliations include the NYSBA, Monroe County Bar Association, Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, and the American Bar Association.
She has served as a mock trial tournament coach for East High School and recruited numerous Rochester lawyers to serve as mentors for young lawyers in Monroe County. Wolford has handled two significant prisoners’ rights cases on a pro bono basis; both involving representation of inmates alleging they had been beaten by guards in retaliation for complaints that had been filed.
Audrey P. Peartree of Pittsford, (Barrett, Griesberger, Dollinger, Fletcher, Peartree & Tallon, LLP), a member of the Rochester women’s bar, said, “working on civil rights cases imposes a tremendous amount of work on attorneys. Lawyers in Rochester must travel significant distances to meet with incarcerated clients, and these cases always go to trial. For most attorneys, the demands of prisoners’ rights work would more than fill a pro bono practice.”
Because of her work in inmate lawsuits, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York recognized Wolford with a Special Services Award.
Wolford also volunteers with the Volunteer Legal Services Project in Rochester where she handles several cases each year helping low-income clients with obtaining unemployment insurance, collections and other civil litigation problems.
Harold A. Kurland, chair of the Monroe County Bar Association’s Judiciary Committee, has worked with Wolford in several capacities; service on his committee, in court, and as a volunteer with the Rochester Inns of Court (a mentoring program similar to the English model of apprenticeship). He said, “throughout all of these encounters, I have come to respect Liz’s professionalism, hard work, judgment, and commitment to justice.”
Rochester City Court Judge Ann E. Pfeiffer, who knows Wolford socially and as a colleague in the women’s bar, may have summed up Wolford’s contributions best when she said, “she graduated from law school and hit the ground running with enthusiasm, intelligence, and dedication to become an outstanding young lawyer and contributor to her community.”
Wolford is president-elect of the Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys and will assume its presidency in June, 2003.
The 2001 recipient was Bradley Kammholz.
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993