Western New York Paralegal Association



The Beginning | 1990 | 2001-2005


THE WESTERN NEW YORK PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION, INC, (WNYPA) evolved from the efforts of several paralegals who foresaw the advantages to be gained for the profession by joining together with others who were similarly employed.

In the summer of 1976, a luncheon meeting attracted 20 individuals representing both paralegals employed in downtown Buffalo law offices and students enrolled in a two-year paralegal program at Hilbert College.   An organizational meeting held on October 13, 1976 resulted in the formation of several steering committees whose members formulated a "purposes clause" for the proposed organization and drafted qualifications for membership. Renee Brownstein, Ann Burstein and Patricia Gross were chosen as directors and Anne Joslin as treasurer  in  November,  1976,  and  on  February 16,  1977,  the  WESTERN  NEW YORK  PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION, INC. was recognized as a Type A corporation under Section 201 of New York's Not-For-Profit Corporation Law.

The initial Board of Directors, elected in February, 1977, undertook to create Bylaws for the Association. The task of tailoring them to fit our particular ideas and circumstances proved much more difficult and time consuming than anticipated and, in April, 1978, four new directors joined with holdover board members in a concerted effort to complete the Bylaws. They were adopted by the membership in December, 1978. In April, 1979, the organization filed with the IRS and was recognized as a tax exempt organization in August of that year.

The Association's first member survey was promulgated in the spring of 1979, and area colleges were quick to recognize the role of our Association as a representative of the local paralegal community.   In 1979, the Administration of Hilbert College asked for WNYPA representatives to serve on its advisory board and to meet with ABA members when the college was reviewed by that group's approval commission. Members were also invited to address students enrolled in Erie Community College's two-year program for legal assistants.

In the fall of 1979, at the invitation of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), five WNYPA representatives attended the Federation's Region IV conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  Inspired by what other paralegal organizations were doing, the officers resolved to pursue our own goals with increased vigor. In 1980 a public relations committee designed to publicize Association activities and establish working relationships with the local and state bar associations was added, and a job bank was created and announced in a letter to members of the public and private sector.  In addition, a bi-monthly newsletter was introduced with Geraldine Gaffney serving as editor.

Between February and October, 1980, our membership increased from 50 to 91 and, on November 5, WNYPA presented its first seminar at the Buffalo Convention Center. The subject was "Calendar Practice and Procedure in Erie County," and featured speakers included Hon. James B. Kane, Charles N. Orlando and local attorney Terrence M. Connors.   The Association also held its first installation dinner in 1980, with Erie County bar President-Elect Basil Piazza as our guest speaker.

1980 also marked the first time that WNYPA was asked to expand its speaking engagements beyond the paralegal classroom by presenting workshops at a career day for students from several high schools.


1981 WAS A YEAR MARKED BY PHYSICAL GROWTH, new commitments and ambitious endeavors.  An increase in membership (120 by April's annual meeting) enabled the Association to increase the number of directorships from eight to ten, and the newly elected board created several new committees.  A publications committee, heading by Karen Crouthamel, accepted responsibility for commissioning a logo. Their efforts resulted in the adoption of the now-familiar Buffalo skyline.   In addition, it prepared a message regarding the paralegal profession for possible incorporation in the State Bar’s Tel-Law tape-- a series of pre-recorded telephone messages providing information to the general public- and, together with the membership committee, it authored and informational brochure about the Association and the profession which was introduced at a November seminar. A publicity committee was also created in an attempt to expand our contacts and capitalize on various avenues of communications in the area. The Bar Liaison Committee, an offshoot of Public Relations, was established to concentrate on relationships with the Erie and Niagara County Bar Associations.

The Speakers Bureau was also instituted that year in response to the increased demand for information about our profession.  Members addressed a Hilbert College seminar on law office management, graduates of the Hilbert paralegal studies program and three classes of incoming students, members of the Bar Association of the Tonawandas, paralegal students at Erie Community College, students from two high schools and workshop participants at a seminar conducted by the Paralegal Association of Rochester. In all, 15 members participated as spokespersons.

The Association applied for membership in the National Association of Paralegal Associations and affiliate status was conferred in the Spring. At the NFPA annual meeting held in Washington, D.C. in June, WNYPA accepted its first national committee assignment --and in-depth study of the status of paralegals under the Fair Labor Standards Act.


IN 1982 WE SAW THE EMERGENCE OF WNYPA AS A VOICE for paralegal interests at the national level.  Under the direction of NFPA primary representative Nancy Langer, a national affairs committee was formed.   Meeting weekly from June through October, the committee conducted a comprehensive study of the certification issue and presented its findings to the general membership in November.  The study enabled the Association to prepare a position paper for submission to the Federation which was considering a proposed statement on certification.  The committee also acted in an advisory capacity to the Association's Board on other national issues, including NFPA participation on the ABA Paralegal Program Approval Commission.

The membership was introduced to its first law-related pro bono project by local attorney Bruce Goldstein, the guest speaker at our third annual installation dinner. By October, four members had completed training as Court Advocates in a program conducted under the auspices of the Erie County Crisis Services, and were assisting victims of sexual assault and their families throughout the judicial process.


IN 1983 WE EXTENDED OUR VISIBILITY and influence beyond the paralegal community.   WNYPA members responded to a New York State Labor Department proposal to create a paralegal aptitude test, and the Association accepted the State Bar's invitation to seat a representative on its Professional Economics and Efficiency Research (PEER) Committee's paralegal task force.

With the support of the Damon & Morey firm, members prepared a statement on the subject of attorney/client privilege as it relates to paralegals. The statement was incorporated in oral argument before the New York State Court of Appeals by the appellant's attorney in People v. Mitchell, 36 A.D.2d 976, 448 N.Y.S.2d 332 (1982).

On October 15 and 16, delegates from the northeastern United States and Canada visited Buffalo for the NFPA's Region IV Fall Conference, hosted by WNYPA. Saturday sessions were held at the State University College on Elmwood, followed by "Buffalo's Welcome to NFPA" --a "mixer" featuring regional delicacies on location along

the Elmwood Strip.  Nancy Langer became the first WNYPA member to hold national office when she was elected Region IV Director at the Federation's annual meeting in Seattle, Washington.


IN 1984, WNYPA ACCEPTED THE INVITATION of the Erie County Bar Association to participate in their "Noonday Lecture” series.    On March 7, Susan Sessanna, Debra Bush and Nancy Kronen teamed in presenting "Paralegals: Not Just for Big Firms Any more." The subject matter was designed to familiarize local attorneys with the role of legal assistants in the small firm setting, the economic advantages of proper utilization and the qualifications a prospective employer should look for when hiring.

WNYPA also increased its involvement on the national level.   Nancy Langer was re-elected as Region IV Director at the Federation's annual meeting, and the Association accepted two committee assignments - funding and certification. The latter committee was comprised of five NFPA affiliates and chaired by WNYPA's Margaret Dick.


IN 1985, President Janice Murrett inspired the revival of specialty sections, with the public sector and litigation groups enjoying the greatest success.  Under the direction of Joanne Wilson, the professional development committee conducted a survey designed to assess job satisfaction and career goals among area paralegals, with results being published in December.

Nancy Langer was elected as NFPA Policy Vice President at the Federation's annual meeting in Chicago, thus becoming the first legal assistant from New York State to serve as an officer in either of the national paralegal associations.


THE BEGINNING OF OUR TENTH ANNIVERSARY YEAR was highlighted by Buffalo Mayor James Griffin's declaration of March 21 as "Western New York Paralegal Association Day."  A banquet to celebrate the occasion was held that evening at the Thirty-eighth Floor Restaurant in the Marine Midland Center. Entertainment featured light­ hearted presentations recalling the Association's past and predicting it future, and charter member Margaret "Mickey" Dick received the Association's "Award for Distinguished Service."

It was a year distinguished by several successful joint endeavors with the organized Bar. Twenty-seven WNYPA members joined members of the Bar Association of Erie County in escorting secondary school students on "Law Day" tours of local court facilities. Maryann Saccomando Freedman, a Buffalo attorney and President­ Elect of the New  York State Bar Association ("NYSBA"), was the keynote speaker at our seventh annual installation dinner, held May 23 at Chefs Restaurant.

Two members continued to serve on the NYSBA's Law Office Economics and Management Committee and were contributing authors of "The Expanding Role of the Legal Assistant in New York State," a monograph published by the State Bar and introduced at its September 25-27 general meeting in Buffalo.  In conjunction with that meeting -the first held outside of Albany or New York City --three WNYPA members planned a two-day seminar for paralegals and legal secretaries and included five other members among the panelists. Attendance at "The Education Connection: New Parameters for Legal Professionals" far exceeded that of any of the regular State Bar offerings and was adopted by the NYSBA as a prototype for similar seminars scheduled for New York City and Albany.  WNYPA also hosted a reception and informal meeting for paralegals from throughout New York State who attended the seminar.   The meeting was chaired by Magdalyn Cyganovich, a Rochester paralegal and Region IV Director of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations ("NFPA").

The Association continued its involvement in NFPA, with representatives actively participating in Region IV meetings in Hartford, CT and Philadelphia, PA, and the annual meeting in Oakland, CA at which WNYPA member Nancy M. Langer was elected NFPA President.

1986 was also the year that the American Bar Association ("ABA") Commission on Professionalism issued its report which contained the conclusion, at page 52, that "[t]he limited licensing of paralegals to perform certain functions seems to be a desirable step."  NFPA President Langer included a discussion of what came to be known as "the page 52 controversy" in her address to our Association's December 16 general membership meeting.

WNYPA's Newsletter took on a new look, with the June issue being the first published in a magazine format. A real estate specialty section was formed, and the litigation specialty section increased its activity, moving to a monthly meeting schedule.


CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION FOR MEMBERS WAS AS MUCH A PRIORITY for the 1987 directors as it had been when our original board included it in the Association's "purposes clause."  On February 6, WNYPA and the Western New York Health Care Coalition co-sponsored a public forum on the topic of medical liability insurance and legislative proposals to cap jury awards for non-economic damages.  The "blue ribbon" panel of speakers assembled by the two associations included attorney Philip H. Magner, Jr., Dr. Anthony P. Santomauro, State Assemblyman James R. Tallon, Jr. and Edward Amsler of the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company and was moderated by New York Supreme Court Justice Henry G. Gosse!

On March 14, the Association hosted its annual spring seminar in the Classroom Building on the Buff State campus.  A number of speakers, including four members, combined forces and offered one presentation specifically for students and three for experienced paralegals.

WNYPA again hosted a NFPA Region IV meeting.   As part of the October 17-19 gathering, Association members planned Friday's all day educational seminar. Several local speakers and two legal service providers covered litigation, corporate and real estate related topics.  As a "break" from the business meetings which continued on Saturday and into Sunday, members and their spouses provided out-of-town delegates with a personally guided tour of Niagara Falls.

May 19, 1987 was the date of the first paralegal/attorney dinner at Samuel's Grande Manor in Clarence. More than 100 members and guests heard the Honorable Vincent E. Doyle, New York State Supreme Court Justice, who spoke about the merger of all state courts as proposed by the Dunn Bill then pending in the state legislature.

In addition to the NFPA's annual meeting in Boston, WNYPA also participated in two important sessions having to do with paralegal education. Paralegals joined forces with members of the NYSBA at a March 7 Education Task Force Hearing in Rochester, in an attempt to raise the standards by which the State Department of Education regulates or licenses schools.  This was followed by a November 6 meeting in Albany at which representatives of the State Bar's LOEM Committee, including three WNYPA members, met with Department of Education officials.

In 1987, the LOEM subcommittee on legal assistants was chaired by WNYPA's immediate past president, Debra J. Bush.


THE ASSOCIATION CONTINUED ITS STATEWIDE INVOLVEMENT in 1988.  On January 27, Debra Bush attended the State Bar's LOEM Committee meeting in New York City and, as chair of the subcommittee on legal assistants, reported on the outcome of the November 1987 meeting with State Department of Education officials regarding standards for licensure of paralegal training programs.

On January 30, WNYPA representatives joined with members of the Paralegal Association of Rochester, Long Island Paralegal Association, Manhattan Paralegal Association, and Legal Assistants of Broome County in Binghamton, New York and formed the Empire State Alliance. The statewide paralegal association met twice more on May 14 and September 24.

WNYPA also participated in national events, sending delegates to the April 22-25 NFPA annual meeting in Dallas, TX and the Federation's Region IV fall meeting in Atlantic City, NJ.    The guest speaker at our September 20 general membership meeting was Laurie Roselle, a past NFPA president, who spoke about her role as a member of the ABA's Education Approval Commission. Her enthusiasm inspired at least one member to volunteer her assistance and, later in the year, Dawn Laidlaw served as a member of an ABA Approval Committee's on-site visitation team to evaluate the paralegal program at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Locally, thirty members responded to a unique Law Day observance co-sponsored by WNYPA and The Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross and donated blood to the Red Cross as a symbolic gesture of support for victims of violent crime. And, for the first time since 1983, the Association gave a presentation as part of the Bar Association of Erie County's "Noonday Lecture" series. Speakers at "It's 1988:  Can You Effectively Utilize a Paralegal in Your Practice? Can You Afford Not To?" included a New York State Supreme Court Justice, two attorneys, one paralegal educator and five WNYPA members. Their December 7 presentation drew an overflow crowd to the ceremonial courtroom of City Court.

WNYPA’s membership topped 200 for the first time in 1988 and, responding to the needs of a growing organization; a Bylaws Committee met throughout the year and drafted bylaw amendments.  The proposed amendments were approved at the December 19 general membership meeting.

The Paralegal/Attorney Dinner was held on May 24 under sunny skies in the tent area beyond centerfield at Pilot Field, the new home of baseball's Buffalo Bisons.  More than 125 members and guests were entertained by Bison President, Robert E. Rich, Jr.


1989 SAW A RENEWED COMMITMENT TO PRO BONO activities.  In addition to our continued involvement in the Volunteer Supportive Advocate Program of Crisis Services, eight members prepared and served meals and sized and sorted donated clothing at the Little Portion Friary. Later, the Association conducted a food drive for this temporary shelter for homeless men and women. Members also assisted with food service at the Night People Drop-in Center, another facility for the homeless, assisted at the Channel 17 {local PBS affiliate} auction, and participated in the March of Dimes 30 km Walk-A-Thon.

As a result of the Bylaw amendments approved in 1988, an Advisory Committee consisting of four former directors was formed to provide "a historical perspective of the Corporation for the guidance and assistance of its officers and directors."

WNYPA activities were wide-ranging, including the annual spring seminar with workshops on successful job hunting and advanced legal writing; the Third Paralegal/Attorney Dinner on May 16 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; a July 17 "WNYPA Night" at Pilot Field; a September 28 dinner meeting at Chefs Restaurant featuring a motivational speech by Manhattan Paralegal Association President Laurie Roselle on how to make things happen in your career; and a December 19 Holiday Luncheon meeting at The Glass Abbey Restaurant.

The Association also remained active in professional activities beyond our immediate locale. Representatives attended meetings of the Empire Alliance in March and October and traveled to Erie, PA to attend a September 16 meeting of the Keystone Alliance. Delegates also participated in the NFPA Annual Meeting in Portland, OR and a Region IV meeting in Wilmington, DE.

The months of effort which went into submitting a bid to host a NFPA Annual Meeting were rewarded on August 4 when the Federation's Board of Directors awarded the 1993 conclave to WNYPA. At the invitation of NFPA, a WNYPA member staffed the Federation's informational table at the Association of Legal Administrator's Annual Conference held in Toronto, Ontario. By mayoral proclamation, May 16 was declared "WNY Paralegal Day."

Members also continued to work with the Bar Association of Erie County's Joint Childcare Committee assessing the childcare needs of the local legal community. Area law firms were surveyed and various downtown locations evaluated as possible sites.

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THE ANNUAL SEMINAR BECAME AN "INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR” as WNYPA joined with the Canadian Association of Legal Assistants in presenting "Across the Border" on March 23 and 24 at the Buffalo Hyatt Regency. Buffalo Mayor James Griffin recognized the event by proclaiming March 23 "Canadian/American Paralegal Day."

The Association introduced its first official Mentor Program and a medical specialty section was formed.

In May, at the invitation of the Union of Lawyers of the Soviet Union, WNYPA member Beverly Woolson visited Moscow, Minsk and Lenigrad as part of an American delegation of paralegals.   She later recounted her adventures at a general membership meeting.

Pro Bono activities again included the March of Dimes 20 km "Walk-A-Thon" on April 29 and the Channel17 "Great American Auction" in May. Through the efforts of Bar Liaison Anita D'Aquino, WNYPA participated in the planning stages of a pilot project to bring free legal services to the homeless in area shelters. At Ms. D'Aquino's behest, members who attended the December Holiday Luncheon at Shayleen's contributed toiletry items for guests at The Little Portion Friary.

The Fourth Annual Paralegal/Attorney Dinner took place on May 15 at the Brierwood County Club with the Hon. Matthew J. Jasen as keynote speaker. On September 18, NFPA Policy Vice President Merle lsgett addressed the general membership meeting on the issue of paralegal regulation.

Deborah J. Healy, a former WNYPA President and NFPA representative, was elected as Region IV Director at the Federation’s May 48 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA and presided at her first regional meeting in Rochester, NY from October 12-14. In November, Beverly Woolson was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the NFPA secretary.

The Association was also represented at the April 7 and September 15 meetings of the Empire State Alliance in Binghamton.  At the latter, WNYPA's Nancy Bowen was elected Alliance Chair.


WNYPA MEMBERS CONTINUED TO SHOW THEIR COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY in 1991 by working with attorneys from Neighborhood Legal Services and law students from the State University in the Bar Association of Erie County's Homeless Task Force. Members and guests who attended the December 17 Holiday Luncheon also contributed gifts for residents of Haven House, a shelter for battered women and their children.

The annual spring seminar was held on March 16 at the Buffalo State College campus and included presentations on assisting at trial, preparation of federal estate tax returns, interviewing public sector clientele, and job responsibilities of paralegals in various specialties.  More than fifty members and students attended.

The May 14 Paralegal/Attorney Dinner was held at the Brierwood Country Club with guest speakers Col. Paul R. Cooper, Commander of the 914th T.A.G., and Neil E. Nolf, Base Public Affairs Officer, offering a personal view of Operation "Desert  Storm."    The  Association  also  donated  $200  to the Niagara  Falls,  NY  Chapter  of the American  Red Cross  to be used in assisting  families  of armed  services  personnel  serving  in Desert  Storm. Steven Seen was honored as "Paralegal of the Year" for his participation as a paralegal/student member.

On the state level, representatives attended a legal assistant subcommittee meeting of the State Bar's LOEM Committee held in Syracuse, NY on June 13 and contributed to the subcommittee's projects. Delegates also journeyed to Binghamton for a September 21 meeting of the Empire State Alliance.

At the Federation’s 1991 Annual Meeting held April 26-29 in Indianapolis, IN, Beverly Woolson was elected Secretary and Deborah Healy re-elected as Region IV Director.  WNYPA also participated in a regional NFPA meeting held in New York City from October 18-20.   Locally, committees were formed and a "theme  contest" was held as planning began for the 1993 NFPA Annual Meeting to be held in Buffalo.


THE 1992-93 BOARD TRIED SEVERAL "FIRSTS" including an incentive program, "More for Me in '93," designed to increase active involvement in the Association. WNYPA also presented its first "Chinese Auction" on February

11 at Garcia’s Irish Pub, and a small but determined group of Estates and Trusts paralegals formed their own specialty section.

The annual spring seminar was held on April 4 at the Erie Community College City Campus.  Participants were able  to choose  from among  CLE  offerings  on bankruptcy  procedure,  default  judgments,  real estate  forms, financial planning  and a unique look at three different paralegal  specialties.

WNYPA member Anita D'Aquino was nominated for the Law Day "Special Services Award" in recognition of her contributions to the Bar Association of Erie County’s Homeless Task Force and the Crisis Services Volunteer Supportive Advocate Program of Erie County, and a WNYPA delegation was present at the April 30 Law Day Luncheon when Committee Chair Salvatore R. Martoche recognized Jane Pigut for her contributions to the committee.

NFPA President Merle lsgett addressed the May 19 Paralegal/Attorney Dinner in the Golden Ballroom at Statler Towers and charter member Shirley Hughes reflected on WNYPA’s growth over the past fifteen years. Carolyn A. DeLacy  received the  Student  Appreciation Award;  Gibson,  McAskill  & Crosby  was  given  the  Employer Appreciation Award, and Jack W. Hunt and Associates, Inc. was recognized for its long-standing support of WNYPA.

The September 15 dinner meeting at Chefs Restaurant featured A. Lee Gagnon, Chief Clerk of Buffalo City Court, who spoke about the "Spring of Life" anti-abortion protests in Buffalo and their effect on the operations of City Court.  The December 15 Holiday Luncheon at The Thirty-eighth Floor Restaurant attracted a large crowd who heard a presentation by Marlene Leone on behalf of "Headway for Brain Injured, Inc.," a support and advocacy organization for the head injured and their families.

The NFPA’s 1992 Annual Meeting took place in San Diego, CA from May 1-4 and was attended by WNYPA representatives. During the summer months, WNYPA held a series of mini-forums to fully apprise members of issues surrounding regulation and a paralegal code of ethics and solicit member opinion in preparation for debate on these topics at the September 25-27 mid-year meeting in Chicago, IL. Beverly Woolson was appointed co­ coordinator of pro bono activities by the NFPA Board of Directors.

In preparation for the 1993 Annual Meeting in Buffalo, WNYPA hosted a September 1 breakfast meeting at the Midday Club to solicit the support of area attorneys in publicizing the national meeting.    The Board also announced the winning entry for meeting theme, "Charging Toward the Future," and the convention logo featured a charging American bison.

WNYPA also assisted the State Bar Association by obtaining local speakers, including several of our own members, for its June 23-24 seminar at the Buffalo Hilton, "Practical Skills for Paralegals."


THE ASSOCIATION's Focus NARROWED as a number of committees intensified their efforts to make the May 7-10

NFPA Annual Meeting in Buffalo one that delegates would want to remember. The opening day was devoted to CLE and proved a golden opportunity to showcase speakers from the local legal community. We also attracted speakers from Minnesota, Toronto, Pennsylvania and California, as well as Albany and New York City.

Business meetings gave WNYPA members who had never attended a professional convocation the opportunity to listen to agenda items being debated under parliamentary rules and experience the professional rejuvenation that always comes from attending such gatherings.  Local members also assumed positions in the national organization, with Deborah Healy being elected Administrative Vice President and Nancy Bowen appointed as assistant editor of the "National Paralegal Reporter."

The tedium of business meetings was relieved by what veteran NFPA delegates agreed was one of the best selections of social activities ever offered.  Friday featured a wine and cheese "sports reception" highlighting Buffalo teams, Saturday ended with a trip to view both the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls, and Sunday's brunch included a corsage for all the moms spending Mother's Day away from their families.  The "grand finale" was Sunday evening's "Mini-Taste of Buffalo" where delegates were treated to an array of appetizing selections widely known and loved in Western New York while enjoying old-time jazz tunes played by The Gus Brancato Quintet.   Best of all, Mother Nature cooperated with one of the most beautiful spring weekends imaginable and hundreds of visitors from as far away as Hawaii went home with a vision of Buffalo which did not include snow!

WNYPA's national involvement extended beyond the Buffalo meeting, however, with the Association offering written testimony at a hearing of the ABA Commission on Nonlawyer Practice. Delegates also participated in an October Empire Alliance meeting and leadership retreat in Albany, NY on October 1-2.

The Association’s commitment to community was reflected in its choice of a speaker for its August 17 membership meeting. Buffalo Police Officer Patrick Swain, head of Police Community Services, spoke on ways to prevent crime in our neighborhoods and against ourselves.  Dr. Steven Bernstein, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, was the guest speaker at the December 21 Holiday Luncheon at the Executive Club, and members donated gifts for patients at the local cancer care facility.  The Association also sponsored a matching funds drive to raise money for the Richard A. Montgomery Heart Foundation, named in memory of the son of member Marjorie Montgomery. Another member, Margaret Dick, was honored by Crisis Services of Erie County for her 10 years of service as a volunteer court advocate for victims of sexual assault.

The seventh annual Paralegal/Attorney Dinner took place on June 15 in the Rendezvous Room at the Statler Towers.  The Hon. Frank A. Sedita, Chief Judge of Buffalo City Court, was the keynote speaker and award recipients included: the student paralegal association of Erie Community College - Paralegal Student Award; Damon & Morey and Grosse, Chelus & Herdzik -Employer Awards; and Deborah J. Healy- Paralegal of the Year. Other social events included our first cocktail party and dance on September 25 at the Statler's Embassy Room and our second successful "Chinese Auction" on October 19 at Garcia's Irish Pub.

The combined effect of hosting the Federation and initiating the member incentive program proved so successful that a second incentive program, "There's More in '94," was introduced. A Saturday board retreat was also held on October 16 to energize the officers and directors and facilitate long-range planning and, in November, the Association activated a phone and voice mail service.


THE ANNUAL SPRING SEMINAR took place  on April 1 at the City Campus  of Erie  Community  College,  and the approximately 75 members  and students  who attended were able to choose  from offerings  on civil litigation, matrimonial practice, environmental law, appellate  practice,  elder law, and career marketing  skills.

Continuing legal education was also the focus of several monthly meetings.    Attorney  Michael  R. Moravec addressed the Apri119 annual meeting concerning the "exempt/non-exempt" status of paralegals under the Fair Labor  Standards  Act, and an overflow  crowd  turned  out  to view  "Inside  the  Law"  at the  June  21 general membership meeting.  Produced by the ABA on the USA Network, the video examined the reasons behind an upsurge in the use of non-lawyers and the issue of consumer protection from non-lawyer practice.

The eighth annual Paralegal/Attorney Dinner was held on May 17 at the Statler Towers' Rendezvous Room. In addition  to his serious  remarks  about  the role of paralegals  on the legal services team, the Hon. Norman  E. Joslin  entertained  the gathering  with  several  original  limericks  written  especially  for the occasion.    Award recipients included Daniel Salatka, "Student of the Year," and Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, "Employer of the Year."

The Association greatly increased its visibility in the community with its most ambitious undertaking since the NFPA convention --the September 20 production of "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace" by Buffalo's Theatre for Change, an improvisational theatrical group whose   specialty   is portraying   social issues. After  the performance at the Marquee  at the Tralf  in Buffalo's  Theatre  Place,  the  actors  remained  in character  and answered questions from the audience which exceeded 270 people.  WNYPA had originally met with the acting group’s director in 1993 to develop the scenes for the corporate and law office settings, and then worked to obtain corporate sponsors and publicize the event to the local business community. The Western New York Chapter of American Women in Radio and Television, Inc. produced a television commercial and Michael R. Moravec and Ginger D. Schroder, the attorneys who acted as facilitators at the performance, also appeared on WKBW-TV's "Good Morning Western New York" to publicize the event.

Membership remained a priority in 1994.  In addition to initiating a third incentive program, "Go for Five in '95," the Board introduced the popular “New Member Luncheon." The  National  Affairs  Committee  was  also reactivated  in response  to increased member  interest  in national  issues.

Association delegates   participated in  the  May  13-16  Annual  Meeting  of  the  NFPA  in  Denver,  CO,  the Federation's Mid-Year meeting  in Kansas  City, MO in October, and an Empire Alliance meeting  in Syracuse, NY. Since its creation in 1988, the Alliance had expanded to include the Adirondack Paralegal Association, the Albany Legal Assistants, the Onondaga County Bar Association Legal Assistant Committee, and the West­ Rock Paralegal Association in addition to its founding members.

Social events included a bigger and better "Chinese Auction" on November 15 at the Macaroni Company and the December 20 Holiday Luncheon at Jim Kelly’s Sports Bar.    Although a knee injury prevented the Bills quarterback from attending, his brother, Dan Kelly, explained the origins of "Kelly for Kids."  The foundation had been selected by WNYPA’s Board to receive the Holiday Luncheon donations.

WNYPA member Wendy Edson was honored by the American Association for Paralegal Education for her work as chairperson of their task force to design a model syllabi for introduction to paralegalism courses.

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WNYPA's ROLE AS A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF THE LEGAL COMMUNITY became a major focus of Association activities in 1995.  Because of our success with the Theatre for Change production in 1994, the WNY Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of New York invited us to co-sponsor a follow-up seminar on sexual harassment. "A Lesson for the Legal Community: How to Stop Sexual Harassment in its Tracks" was presented on April 5 at the Rich Renaissance.

Two general meetings were devoted to pro bono legal services.  On February 21, Bernadine Butler introduced members  to The Women's  Law  Center  which  has  a sliding-scale  fee designed  for women  who exceed  the income requirements for legal aid but cannot afford standard legal fees. The featured speaker on November 21 was David Ziegler, staff attorney at the Volunteer Lawyer's Project, who acquainted members with the services provided to indigent clients through the involvement of private attorneys and paralegals.

Continuing legal education was also a priority in 1995.  The annual spring seminar on April1 at Hilbert College featured panel discussions and workshops on intellectual property, criminal litigation and the corporate client, commercial and residential loan procedures, analysis of medical records, investigating insurance fraud, and stress management. Attorney F. William Gray, lit, a member of the NYSSA's ad hoc committee on nonlawyer practice, addressed the September 19 dinner meeting on the committee’s recently released report and how it might affect our futures as paralegals. On September 22, members  Margaret  Lamonds  Moss, Margaret Dick, and Donna  Tobia  teamed  with their  attorney-employers in presenting  "Preparing  for Trial -the Role of the Paralegal," at a Professional Education Systems, Inc. ("PESI")  day-tong  seminar at the Buffalo Hilton.

The National Affairs Committee continued to enjoy an insurgence due to an increased interest in national issues. Committee input enabled WNYPA to draft a resolution on the grandparenting provisions governing the Paralegal Advanced  Competency Exam  ("PACE") which  became  a major  agenda  item at the May  6-8 NFPA Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  WNYPA was also recognized at that meeting for its financial contribution to an amicus curiae brief on the subject of whether paralegals could be seated at counsel table during trial, an issue in the Pennsylvania Superior Court appeal of Pennsylvania v. Lockhart. Association delegates also participated in the November 16-19 Mid-Year meeting in Annapolis, MD.

Four representatives attended the Empire Alliance meeting and leadership retreat on September 30 in Albany, NY.  Because of the nationally recognized quality of WNYPA's Newsletter, Editor Margaret Dick was invited to speak on aspects of a successful newsletter.

The keynote speaker at the May 15 Paralegal/Attorney Dinner at Network was News Channel 7's Steve Boyd on the topic of Media and the Law.  Award recipients included Shawn Fagan, "Rookie of the Year"; Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock, Blaine & Huber, Employer Recognition Award; and In & Out Printing, Inc., Outstanding Business Support Services Award.  The Holiday Luncheon took place at Network on December 19, and members donated gift items for residents of Benedict House.  Mollie Fenger, a Benedict House director, acquainted members and their guests with the services provided by this local residence for adults living in the advanced  stages of AIDS.

The Association recognized the contributions of all its active members and treated them to dinner at a special Member Appreciation Meeting on January 17.  At the meeting, members adopted the NFPA Model Code of Ethics.   The member incentive program was renewed with the theme "Get to Know WNYPA," and a special Discovery Draw was introduced.

A number of WNYPA member accomplishments were worthy of special recognition.  April 26 recipients of the Golden Rule Award presented by J.C.Penney  and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County included Mary Ann Groblewski for her outstanding  volunteer  service to the Fellowship  of the Disabled,  Inc. and Katie Alexander, Shirley  Hughes  and Mary Anne Nawrocki who were members of Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock,  Blaine  & Huber's winning  team.   Mary Jean Zajac received  a Student Life Award from Hilbert College for her work on Hilbert's newspaper, and Margaret  Lamonds  Moss  was a guest  speaker  at the annual  conference  of Law Clerks  of Ontario  in Toronto.   Wendy Edson teamed with a U.S. Department of Environmental Protection attorney in presenting "Environmental Law and Paralegal Opportunities" at an October meeting of the American Association for Paralegal Education in Indianapolis, IN.


THE ASSOCIATION'S 20r" ANNIVERSARY YEAR WAS COMMEMORATED at the1Oth Annual Paralegal/Attorney Awards Dinner held at Samuel's Grand Manor on May 20. The evening’s keynote speaker was the Hon. John J. LaFalce, former Buffalo attorney and tong-time representative to the U.S. House of Representatives from 29th

Congressional District.  In addition to the usual awards, there was a special display of newsletters and photos from past years, and the dinner program included a copy of the Association's history.

It was also a year when WNYPA enjoyed the national spotlight.  In October, the Association's newsletter, newly named, Paramount, was designated "Best Overall Newsletter'' by Legal Assistant Today magazine in its first Newsletter Contest.  The top prize also earned WNYPA $300 in prize money from the national publication.

In October, NFPA President Susan Kaiser addressed our general membership meeting on the importance of networking and maintaining an awareness of national trends. Charter member Margaret Dick received the Federation's first annual Outstanding Leadership Award at the NFPA Mid-Year Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, and Deborah Healy participated as a beta tester for the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination (PACE).  Debbie's successful completion of the examination distinguished her as the Association's first Registered Paralegal.

The Association and its members also remained in the forefront on state issues.  We submitted written comments to the State Court of Appeals concerning uniform statewide rates for the compensation of appointed counsel in capital cases and alerted the Empire Alliance and NFPA to the New York State Department of Labor proposal to provide on-the-job paralegal training to prison inmates. The proposed job description would have given the inmate paralegals the right to "explain law as it pertains to [a] client's situation," and other duties reserved for attorneys in New York.  WNYPA joined five other New York paralegal associations and NFPA in voicing objections, resulting in the DOL abandoning the idea.

In neighboring Pennsylvania, WNYPA supported NFPA and several Keystone State paralegal associations in opposing legislation which would have amended that state's Unauthorized Practice Law statute to include paralegals. The combined efforts of our professional associations resulted in a vote by the Philadelphia Bar Association to oppose the bill.

Shawn Fagan and Mary Anne Nawrocki were among 18 state representatives attending a September meeting of the Empire State Alliance meeting in Albany, and President Karen Genge and Katherine Manns attended NFPA's first Leadership Conference at Federation headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri.

This was also the year in which "Kids Voting New York" was introduced as a pilot project in the state. WNYPA was among the first professional associations to lend assistance, taking on the role of District Volunteer Coordinator in recruiting member volunteers to staff 16 polling places in the South Buffalo District. Jill Warner organized this popular and worthwhile program.  Continuing in this pro bono vein, the Association joined with JALBCA (Judges and Lawyers' Breast Cancer Alert) in sponsoring a November 5 seminar at the Mid-Day Club on recent developments in breast cancer research and ended the year by selecting Ronald McDonald House as the recipient of its holiday gift.


MEMBER SERVICES PROVED TO BE THE FOCUS in 1997.  A real estate specialty section was formed, offering lunch hour CLE at no additional cost to members employed in this area of law. The pre-existing estate and trust and litigation sections increased in popularity, with the latter trying a two-part presentation on independent medical examinations. Association directors and advisory committee members continued to welcome new members at luncheons specially designed to meet their needs, as membership Vice President Judith Magee amazed attendees with her catering prowess. The Association also held a resume writing workshop.

With 91 respondents, the annual survey enjoyed its highest return rate since the 1979 inaugural version.  A wide variance in law firm salaries was reported, from a low of $14,500 for a full-time entry level position in the estate and trust area to a high of $47,000 for an experienced environmental paralegal.  The highest reported Salary, $52,000, was paid to an employee benefits paralegal employed by a corporation.

WNYPA representatives attended the NFPA annual and mid-year meetings in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Scottsdale, Arizona respectively; the NFPA National Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Empire State Alliance meeting in Albany.

Kathleen L. Radominski became WNYPA’s second Registered Paralegal with her successful completion of the PACE exam.

Members participated in what had become traditional springtime activities.  The Fifth Annual Chinese Auction took place on March 18th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the Hilbert College campus became the site for our annual seminar which focused on alternative dispute resolution.  The Hon. David J. Mahoney, J.S.C., was the keynote speaker at the Eleventh Annual Paralegal/Attorney Dinner held at The Dock of the Bay.  Justice Mahoney showed that he had "done his homework,” speaking on the role of paralegals in the courtroom and the issue of paralegal regulation.

WNYPA continued to monitor statewide issues affecting paralegals.  When a local attorney filed a complaint in state Supreme Court in an attempt to assure that capital {death penalty) defense attorneys  would be reimbursed for the work of their paralegals and associates, the Association was instrumental in NFPA retaining local counsel to file a supportive  amicus curiae brief.

Our community involvement was evidenced by support for the Bar Association of Erie County's "Have a Heart" food drive, and the Development Coordinator of the Food Bank of Western New York addressed the February general membership meeting regarding the work of this non-profit corporation. WNYPA also continued its participation in "Kids Voting" and purchased a brick for the memorial walkway created at the Ronald McDonald House.  As the year ended, the women and children of Cornerstone Manor were presented with the proceeds of our holiday fundraiser at the December 16th luncheon held at Chefs Restaurant.


PARALEGAL  REGULATION HAD BEEN A TOPIC AT national affairs committee  meetings for a number of years, and the committee, led by our NFPA representatives, devoted approximately two years to familiarizing members with the concept of a national paralegal standard and the process  of creating  one.   In 1998, this culminated in the creation of a PACE study group to encourage and prepare members to take the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam.

Closer to home, WNYPA renewed its involvement in the New York State Bar Association by appointing a representative to its Law Office Economic and Management (LOEM) committee. As a member of LOEM's paralegal subcommittee, the Association delegate worked on updating “The Role of the Legal Assistant in New York State."  The revised version of this bar publication was to be introduced at its 1999 annual meeting.

The membership committee initiated an outreach drive to attract a larger percentage of Niagara County paralegals.

Association delegates participated in the National Federation's semi-annual conventions held in Anchorage, Alaska in April and Fort Worth, Texas in October, as well as the March Empire State Alliance meeting in Binghamton, New York.

March was also the month in which WNYPA's sixth annual Chinese Auction attracted its largest attendance ever.  The Buffalo State College campus  was the site of the annual spring seminar featuring  specialty presentations for Estate & Trust, litigation, and real estate paralegals, as well as a PACE overview  session. The spring season ended with the twelfth annual paralegal/attorney dinner at The Roycroft Inn in East

Aurora. Don Dayler, East Aurora's town historian, was the keynote speaker who impressed those in attendance with his scholarly presentation on the renovation and restoration of the historic inn.

The commencement of a new school year meant an increase in activity for the Speakers Bureau with Association reps addressing Genesee Community College's Paralegal Studies Program on Dec 9.  Our membership vice president even took time during a November vacation in Maryland to address students in a computer aided litigation support course at the University of Maryland's University College.

The Association gave more than lip service to "dressing for success" in 1998.  Our September 14 "kick-off' meeting at the Adam's Mark Hotel included a professional fashion show with members modeling fashions from the Dress Barn and the Men's Warehouse, and the season ended with the adoption of Anne's Hope Chest as the year's official charity.  Members attending the December 8th holiday luncheon at Chefs were encouraged to donate newer used "interview suits" to the non-profit group for distribution to men and women attempting to enter the job market.


THE ANNUAL SPRING SEMINAR TOOK ON A NEW FORM as the Association's professional development committee teamed with the Bar Association of Erie County in a jointly sponsored CLE presentation, "Law Office Survival Skills for the Next Millennium."  Organizing the March 6th event resulted in an improved working relationship with the local bar.  In addition to contributing their planning expertise, four members participated as speakers.

Repeating its highly successful fundraiser, the 7th Annual Chinese Auction took place on March 23'd at the Rich Renaissance Atrium. The latter was also the setting for the May 18 Paralegal/Attorney Dinner at which Dr. R. Bruce Baum, the keynote speaker, discussed the connection between humor and a healthy life in his presentation entitled "He/She Who Laughs ... Lasts."

In April, WNYPA's Jill Ann Warner was elected as Region V Director at the NFPA's spring convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Region V, which was voted into existence as part of the Federation's 1998 realignment, consists of member associations from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Delegates from WNYPA also attended the October NFPA fall convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Beginning with the Winter 1999 edition, a new photographic Buffalo skyline, the work of photographer Michael P. Sands, appeared on the Paramount masthead, replacing the silhouette of the skyline which had been introduced in June, 1982.

In 1999, national affairs committee members remained vigilant with respect to issues affecting our profession, providing members with details of a New Jersey Supreme Court committee's recommendations for a paralegal regulatory scheme in that state, as well as developments in the New York capital counsel fee schedule controversy involving reimbursement for paralegal time.

The Association continued to provide ample educational opportunities for its members in the form of a PACE Study Group and specialty sections for members employed in the areas of estate and trust, litigation, and real estate. Study Group participants also began to see the results of their labors as JiII Warner, Kimberley Ribbeck, and Virginia Common earned the RP designation.

Officers, directors, and advisory board members attended a Saturday retreat on June 121hwhere they focused on developing a strategic plan to meet the growing professional needs of both the members and the board.  June was also marked by the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life."  At the request of a member and cancer survivor, WNYPA members supported the relay as both participants and donors.

As a purely social event, it was hard to top the Association's night at the ballpark. Members and their families enjoyed a picnic supper and a Bison game followed by spectacular fireworks on a perfect August evening.

The fall "kick-off' dinner was held on September 21at The Little White House.   Our featured speaker, attorney Mark Giangreco, acquainted attendees with some basic investment principles.

On Election Day, members manned polling places in two different Buffalo districts as the Association continued its support of "Kids Voting New York," and WNYPA’s Speakers Bureau filled requests for presentations at career days for students of The Frederick Law Olmsted School in Buffalo and North Tonawanda high schools.

The calendar year ended with the traditional Holiday Luncheon on December 7th at Chefs Restaurant.  Two charities benefited from our members’ generosity: Kevin Guest House which provides accommodations for families of out-patients undergoing treatment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Buffalo, the only local agency sheltering homeless families.  Earlier in the year the Association had donated money for a brick to be inscribed with our name and laid in the restored walkway to the landmark Roycroft Inn.

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IN EFFORT TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF THE VALUABLE ROLE PARALEGALS can play in the pro bono efforts of the legal community, the Association  formed a liaison with Neighborhood Legal Services ("NLS").   William J. Hawkes, Executive Director of NLS, agreed to establish a program whereby WNYPA members could be introduced to the goals of NLS, familiarized with the needs of its clients, and trained to assist in the areas of family law, public benefits, disability rights and housing law.  Mr. Hawkes introduced the program to the general membership at our April 18th annual meeting.

WNYPA continued its marketing efforts on behalf of the profession, launching its website at www.lawsight.com. In addition to information about the Association, the web page contained links to courts, law libraries and articles on technology and the legal profession.

The Association's NFPA representatives earned a special reward for their efforts when the Hawaii Paralegal Association hosted the Federation's spring convention in May.  The fall convocation brought them much closer to home, as our "neighbors” in Pittsburgh welcomed delegates in September.   Our PACE Ambassador, Jill Ann Warner, also accepted an appointment as NFPA Inmate Research Coordinator. In this capacity, she is responsible for research leading to development of a policy on prison inmate paralegals and gathering information relating to contract paralegals working for departments of corrections.

WNYPA hosted its 14th Paralegal/Attorney Dinner on May 16th at the Hearthstone Manor.   Our keynote speaker was local criminal defense attorney, Mark J. Mahoney, who addressed the issue of paralegal fee recovery in capital defense cases.

More social events were held as a way to promote networking and camaraderie. They included a June 22nd outing at Dunn Tire Park where members enjoyed a picnic supper before the Bison game, a lunch hour ice cream social in August, and a Buffalo “Wing Fest" at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery.

Our Empire State Alliance representatives were able to network with both Alliance and NFPA delegates when the Federation's Region V chose Albany as the site for its August 12th meeting.  The business portion of the gathering was held at the headquarters of the New York State Bar Association. Locally, our bar liaison assisted in the planning of the Bar Association of Erie County’s annual seminar held on May 6.

The first dinner meeting of the fall season changed from "kick-off' to "tee-off' as members gathered on September 19th at the Glen Oaks Golf Course.  The featured speaker was Susan Makai of "Personal Best" who lent a humorous touch to her presentation on the serious topic of business dining etiquette.

In addition to regular estate and trust, litigation, and real estate specialty section meetings, the Association offered a six-part legal research seminar. The lunch hour CLE series proved so popular that a second session was planned for 2001. The State University of New York at Buffalo's north campus was the site of an October 21st seminar which featured speakers on revisions to the New York CPLR, Surrogate Court functions, and PACE.  For the second year in a row, there was sufficient member interest to merit formation of a PACE study group, and member Karen J. Pawlak joined the ranks of the PACE Registered Paralegals.

Kids Voting New York continued to attract member support during this presidential election year, with volunteers staffing two polling places in the Masten District.

Chefs Restaurant was again chosen as the site of the annual holiday luncheon, held on December 12th. Our designated charity was the New Life Residence Center, Inc., providing shelter, treatment and counseling for women struggling with drug addiction.

WNYPA also was among the first professional groups to become involved in the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Pan American Exposition by purchasing a brick with the Association's name to be laid in a "Women's Walkway."  The plaza area, to be constructed at the foot of Main Street where the DL&W Railroad Terminal once stood, will honor the accomplishments of women in our community, both past and present.

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Those wise words serve as a guiding principle as the new millennium presents milestones and breakthroughs, changes and renewals to the WNYPA.   The Association celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2001. As we reflected on how far the WNYPA had come, we looked forward to the challenges of the 21st century. The WNYPA enthusiastically welcomed the new century. The Association launched its website in 2001 and, with significant developments to the electronic home to better serve the membership, initiated a re-launch in July 2004. At that time, the Board was expanded to include a Web Technology Coordinator.

The Board, led by Laura (Kryta) Szychowski (2000-2001), Catherine West-Lefko (2001-2005) and Margaret S. Dick (2005-2006) re-established the Estates and Trusts (2004) and Real Estate (2005) Specialty Sections.  CLE credit is now earned for attendance at all specialty section meetings.

Perhaps the event with the greatest impact on almost all members, was the August 2004 change to the Fair Labor Standards Act with regard to overtime pay. As the new standards were implemented, the environments in which we work and the perception of what we do were altered as well. We continue to hear of varied interpretations and applications of this act.

Entrusted  with  the  task  of  moving  the  Association  forward,  representatives  from  the Board kept the Association  apprised of developments  in the paralegal profession on both state and national levels through their involvement with the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations  and  the  National  Federation  of  Paralegal  Associations.  In  keeping  up  with  the evolving  nature of our  profession,  the Board  has actively  promoted  the PACE exam through study course for the PACE coordinated by our PACE Ambassador. Several members have taken the PACE exam and earned the Registered Paralegal distinction. A new salary survey was also published in 2005 providing data on the local salary "climate."

New  Member  luncheons  and  an  Incentive  Award  Program  were  popular  new  (or renewed)  developments,  as well as creative  means by which  members,  "old"  and new, came together.

In  the  past  five  years,  as  throughout  the  Association's history,  the  membership  has demonstrated  their  generosity  at  the  annual  Holiday  Luncheons  with  their  support  of  local charitable organizations including Friends of the Night People, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Cornerstone Manor, TRY Program, Gilda's  Club, Project Flight, Agape Parents' Fellowship, and Little Portion  Friary. Any reflection upon the last five years warrants a mention of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Like so many people worldwide, the Association had a link to those in New York City that day. At our Holiday Luncheon in 2001, a donation was given to the survivors of the Harris Beach LLP office which had been located in the World Trade Center.

Another  outreach  effort  and  perhaps  one  of  the  most  exciting  developments  as  we stepped into the 21st century, was the initiation of a scholarship program, solely funded by the proceeds from the Association's annual (and much-anticipated) Chinese Auction. To date, the WNYPA has awarded six scholarships for a total of $4,000 to students enrolled in local paralegal studies programs. Thanks to all those members who accepted the challenge and supported the Auction with their donations and attendance!

Prepared by Margaret SDick

WNYPA ad hoc historian

and Katherine T. Sinicropi

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