Lisa Bloch Rodwin: Life Happens!
Newly retired Family Court Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin sat down with our My Jewish Buffalo staff and shared her reflections on her professional journey, the passing of RBG, mentoring and what’s next for her.
Career: I went to college planning to become a High School Social Studies teacher, but as is so often the case, my professional journey took different turns. Ultimately I went to law school and began my legal career as a prosecutor. At that time, it was very challenging for women attorneys and especially for working mothers. However, I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference and I jumped in with both feet. Even though there were very few role models for me in criminal law – most women at that time either practiced estate, family or real estate law – I told myself that I could do this, and I did.
RBG: Justice Ginsburg was a genuine hero both for myself and every single other woman attorney I have ever met, especially those who came into the profession during a period that wasn’t completely open for women. RBG was a giant in the world of civil rights and gender equity and we honor her memory by never giving up on the fight for equality and justice, and not just for women, but for all those who are denied equal rights and dignity in America today. She will be missed but her legacy burns bright in me and for so many others.
Mentoring: My commitment to mentoring stems in large part from my lack of female mentors during most of my legal career, and one of the greatest joys in my life is that my mentees have become Judges, Magistrates, and Bureau Chiefs in local prosecutors’ offices. Like Justice Ginsburg, I have always striven to take time to teach each of my law clerks while also taking the time to listen, whether that meant listening to an explanation of a legal argument or a personal issue. I always try to impress on the young women I mentor, that you can’t really know what opportunities present themselves, so always be ready to take a chance to jump into it.
Retirement: My husband Mike and I decided last fall to turn to a new chapter in our lives; I submitted my retirement papers the first week in March, just before the pandemic hit. My initial plan was to become a consultant on judicial education in family law at conferences, spend more time visiting my family, and traveling the world, even though none of that is possible now. Still, I’m taking advantage of this time, focusing on reading, learning, taking fitness classes and yoga at our JCC and I just began the honor of serving on the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service. My motto has always been to seize opportunity and to embrace the notion that “life happens.” So what’s next? Who knows! As I was explaining to a young mentee who will be attending law school next year, it’s best not to plan too much. Life gets in the way, but it has sure been a wonderful ride so far.