It’s not unusual for the president of the Monroe County Bar Association to focus on a few special interests during their one-year term.
Yet for attorney Cassandra Rich, who recently took over as leader of the organization, there’s no need to initiate new projects.
“There’s a lot of really fantastic programs I’ve been involved with that are already in place and so I have no brand-new initiatives to kick off,” said Rich, special counsel at Barclay Damon LLP.
“She’s aware that you can’t just keep adding things,” said MCBA Executive Director Kevin Ryan.
“She’s aware that if you’re going to take on something new, that probably means something else needs to be taken off the plate. She’s really sharp in terms of the financial circumstances of the association and how we work and what we’re capable of doing,” he said.
Rich is focused on continuing the work of the MCBA’s Leadership Academy, which started last year, and “making sure that succeeds and is fulfilling for the young attorneys who are going through it and that it continues to be well received.”
She will also work on the MCBA’s President’s Commission on Anti-Racism, which she has been involved with since its inception.
“That is also getting ready to come to a point of fruition. One of the tasks that Commission was charged with was trying to put together some form of mentorship for minority attorneys,” she said.
The Bar Association has received funding to hire a consultant to help develop that program. The money came from Monroe County Bar Foundation, in addition to member attorneys on the Commission.
Rich also looks forward to the Bar Association’s health and well-being initiative.
“I don’t take advantage of all of the things that they offer but I think it’s really important both because it provides networking and it’s a touch stone for people to let them know this is a really tough job with a lot of stress and the folks at the bar are paying attention and they want people to have resources and an outlet,” Rich said.
Outgoing President Langston McFadden, called Rich “a phenomenal person.”
“I think she is going to be a fantastic leader of the bar,” he said.
“One thing that is very heartening for me is her involvement to date, and her history of involvement with the bar association, has been stellar,” McFadden said.
“She’s not going to be a president that comes in and is learning the initiatives anew or how the bar operates anew, she’s been involved for several years,” he said.
“She was very active as the president-elect during my presidency, so she’s fully committed to, not just advancing new initiatives of the bar association, but to carrying out initiatives that I put into place and those that I carried out once I took over for (past-President) Brad Kammholz,” McFadden said.
“She brings to the table a collaborative spirit, but also is willing to tackle the tough issues and be blunt on directions and ideas. If something doesn’t make sense, she has no fear in saying this direction or this particular process or policy doesn’t make sense and we need to make a change,” McFadden said.
Ryan also said that Rich has been “really active and engaged with the bar association.”
“She’s got a really sharp incisive mind, very much committed to the welfare of the association and aware of the limitations of what a small staff can do,” Ryan said.
Rich has been a member of the Bar Association since the start of her career at Boylan Code.
“Someone took me under their wing and said you really should join the bar. I joined (the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys) and the MCBA as soon as I started because it’s such an amazing way to network and get to know the legal community, and not just people in your own practice area that you’re going to run into as you do your job, but other attorneys in town,” she said.
Over the years Rich has been involved in several committees of the Bar Association.
“I’ve been very involved and aware of what’s going on. When I was asked if I wanted to be president the answer was ‘Wow’ because I really respect all of the past presidents that I know and that I’ve work with. It’s quite an honor to be following in their footsteps,” Rich said.
Most membership organizations have been losing members and the MCBA is no exception and Rich acknowledges that.
“The overarching goal … is I want to increase engagement with our members,” she said.
“I want people to get more involved. With all membership organizations you get what you put in. The more involved you are, the more connected you get, the more you get out of it,” she said.
“While it would be really lovely if we could make sure the membership stayed level, or even increased, that’s not the marketplace that we seem to be in,” she said.
[email protected] / (585) 232-2035
Title: President of the Monroe County Bar Association; Special Counsel Barclay Damon LLP
Education: Bachelor of science in chemistry, Wake Forest University, 2001; Juris doctor, Wake Forest Law School 2004
Career: Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson LLP, 2004 to August 2011; Boylan Code LLP, September 2004 to March 2020; Barclay Damon LLP, since March 2020.
Quote: “I want people to get more involved. With all membership organizations you get what you put in. The more involved you are, the more connected you get, the more you get out of it.”l