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Elizabeth A. Wolford

Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of New York

Years in current role: 9 as a district judge, almost 1.5 as chief judge

What do you enjoy most about your position?

I enjoy the public service aspect of my position and opportunity to interact with many different segments of our community, all in an effort to pursue justice. I also enjoy the diverse subject areas of the cases assigned to me.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish before the end of next year?

Our Court and the Eighth Judicial District of the New York State courts are engaged in efforts to study the issue of diversity of our jury pools. I recognize that there is no easy fix and the subject is complex, but I hope that we are successful in making inroads to increase the diversity of those who appear for jury service.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for the legal community in Rochester?

I view the biggest challenge facing our legal community as tied to its greatest strengths. What makes our legal community unique is the fellowship and professionalism among its members. Those attributes are based, in part, on the personal relationships and social interactions that members of our legal community have traditionally enjoyed. The COVID pandemic significantly impacted those opportunities. Hopefully we are emerging from this dark period because while remote connections can be convenient, they do not replace the personal interactions that have helped make the Western District of New York a great community in which to practice law.

This profile is part of our Power 50 Law list for 2022. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at or


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