Winter 2013 Newsletter

In This Issue
NJWLA Website Update
Member News
Member Spotlight: Michelle Schaap
Feature Article: A Tribute to Pam Poff
Premier Event
Upcoming Events


The New NJWLA Website is Live!
New features will include real-time social media feeds and a “Find a Lawyer” page that groups our members by practice area and functions as a search tool for those seeking legal counsel.

If you would like to be listed in the “Find a Lawyer” Section, please send an email to
with an updated list of the following information:

– Full Name
– Practice Areas (Up to 2)
– Firm Name
– Firm Address
– Email Address
– Telephone Number

Member News

The NJWLA is proud to congratulate the following members on being named to the 2014 NJBIZ
“Top 50 Women in Business” List.

Board Member
Michelle Haas

Mary Clare Garber
Tanya Helfand

Law360 Female Powerbrokers Q & A featuring President-Elect, Randi Kochman, can be found HERE.

Law360 Female Powerbrokers
Q&A featuring
Christine Amalfe can be found HERE.

Carol Lynn Nowicki
has joined The Law Office of Kirsten Scheurer Branigan, P.C. as Of Counsel.

Deena Rosendahl
has been appointed as a Board Member for the Bergen County YWCA.

Have you recently …..

Won a summary judgment motion?

Closed a big deal?

Tried your first case?

Started a new job?

Had a baby?

Earned a promotion?

Returned to the workforce?

Celebrated 10, 20, 25, etc. years as a lawyer?

Been named a Rising Star or SuperLawyer in your field?

Whatever your good news is, we want you to share your success!

Please email
with any details you would like to be included in our next NJWLA newsletter

Member Spotlight:
Michelle Schaap

I am an attorney practicing in primarily in the fields of corporate and construction law. I am also an AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors) Level 1 Certified Adaptive Snowboard Instructor, and a Class A Special Olympics Volunteer.

I started teaching snowboarding with the Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF) three years ago. The students (who range in age from 3 to 53 (or older) are an inspiration – as are their families. The students’ challenges can be any combination of developmental
issues and/or physical concerns. Many of our students are on the autism spectrum, and we have blind students, students with CP, and any combination you can imagine. Not withstanding the unique profile of each student, all of these students and their families share one thing: a drive to live their lives to the fullest.

While safety is the first and foremost concern for our students, the second most important aspect of any teaching or race day is fun! To see the sheer joy of a student that cannot walk or talk but can feel the rush of the wind on his or her face is indescribable.

Each year, ASF hosts Wounded Warriors for a weekend of skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, and comradery. On the first day of this year’s Wounded Warrior weekend, two kids came barreling through the lodge, shouting with glee “Daddy’s going to ski with us!!!!”… Following behind them was Dad, a “Wounded Warrior” with an amputation above one knee. ASF “engineered” his prosthetic to work in a ski boot, and he was ready to spend the day on the mountain with his children. Scenes like this one repeated themselves all through the weekend with the warriors and their families and loved ones of all ages.

Wounded Warriors is an amazing program, and each participant is an inspiration. However, that program is only a small portion of what ASF does. A group of teenagers and young adults – each with their own unique circumstances , come to Windham every weekend to train, race and “hang” with their friends. Last year, after the Special Olympics were over (and Windham’s race team had won almost every medal awarded), the team came into town to have dinner together, all wearing their race “bling.” The Cave Mountain Brewery – and all of us that were there for dinner – welcomed the group of young adults and cheered for them, as they proudly displayed their gold, silver and bronze medals. This year, I earned the right to be a part of this special group, and am now certified as a Class A Special Olympics volunteer.

This past weekend, my fellow instructor and I had a “never ever” – a very anxious young snowboard student. The day started out with tears and fears, and ended with hugs and triumphant shouts as we came off the chair lift, and rode down the mountain on our snowboards together.

Every week, I work hard for my clients. I love being a lawyer (really!). I have wonderful colleagues at Wolff & Samson PC, and enjoy serving our clients’ business needs. But every weekend throughout the winter, I feed my soul with the hard work and joy of helping families do “normal things” – like feeling the wind rushing by as we snowboard down the slopes at Windham.

When March rolls around, and everyone else eagerly awaits the spring, I am just counting the months until the next season of smiles.

Do you want to be featured in our Member Spotlight Section?
Please submit your story and photo to
for consideration.

February 2014

Featured Article

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association Loses a
Beloved Leader:
A Tribute to
Pamela S. Poff, Esq.

By: Kirsten Scheurer Branigan, Esq., NJWLA Endorsements Director and Past President

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pamela S. Poff, Esq. on November 9, 2013, our friend, colleague and former New Jersey Women Lawyers Association (NJWLA) Board member. For those of us who knew her, she simply went by “Pam.” Pam was as good an attorney and person as they come and her goodness was innate and her personality larger than life. Pam’s laugh was contagious and her sense of good humor always present.
Pam was one of the many women who answered one of my calls to help revitalize NJWLA back in 2006. She did not hesitate to become involved and was one of the pillars of NJWLA. Her dedication to the Association helped the first NJWLA Women Initiative and Leaders in the Law (WILL) Gala to be the amazing success that it was.

Pam was a skilled employment lawyer, both smart and practical. I had the pleasure of working on employment matters with her and she served as a mediator on several of my cases. I can vividly recall her telling me that she told the other side that they needed to have a “come to Jesus moment” as she put it. We all know that Pam told it like it was.

Pam had stellar credentials and was a role model for women lawyers. Pam was the first female Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, having been appointed by Governor Kean. She was also an advisor for several years to Justice Clarence Thomas on “excellence in agency case processing,” while he was chairman on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Prior to creating her own business, Pam served as Deputy General Counsel/Senior Vice President at UBS Financial Services, Inc. (formerly Paine Webber). Pam was also a partner with Jackson Lewis and a long-term adjunct faculty member of Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.

All those who knew Pam, cannot say enough about her integrity and good spirit.

Here are some thoughts from former clients, colleagues and friends.

“Pam was a trailblazer in many ways, and clearly faced tough challenges throughout her career. However, she was a great storyteller with a terrific sense of humor, and I imagine she approached those difficult times with a twinkle in her eye! Her warmth and “down to earth” style not only made her great company, but also effectively disarmed her adversaries along the way. Pam truly understood the importance of equal opportunity, including by hiring qualified women attorneys, and retaining them to first-chair her cases.”
[Lynne Anderson, Esq. NJWLA Board Member]

“Pam always saw the best in others. She brought me over from Jackson Lewis to work as a paralegal at PaineWebber and encouraged me when I went to school at night to finish my bachelors and eventually my law degree. She worked with me to adjust my schedule to accommodate classes and always encouraged my progress. She was a continuous source of inspiration. Pam also knew I was a singer and asked me to sing for her often whether it be in her car on the way to a meeting or at one of her fabulous parties. I was privileged to have worked for her but even more so to call her a friend. Pam was one of a kind.”
[Louise Trezza, Esq., former Jackson Lewis colleague]

When I joined Wakefern in 1996, Pam was already a legendary instructor in our ShopRite University, especially her course on “Avoiding Litigation”. She had a unique ability to make dry subjects interesting, and her famous stories made an indelible impact. Amazingly, I did not meet Pam face to face until ten years ago when I mistakenly wandered into a course where she was speaking on career transitions .We immediately clicked and she became my “go to” person for HR advice and support. More important, Pam became a delightful dinner companion, my resource for Savannah adventures and a true friend. I feel blessed and honored to hold her memories in my heart.
[Ann Marie, Burke, Esq, Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Planning, former client]

Pam drew people to her by the force of her personality and intelligence, and earned respect through her incisive counsel and commitment. Perhaps most striking was her capacity to engage – to step in and lend her time and expertise regardless of other demands on her time. While she had a natural exuberance that made her seem to be at the center of all things interesting, she touched many through quiet words and acts of kindness. She was a thoughtful, decent person.”
[Melissa Doll, Esq., former UBS colleague]

Pam, we will miss you and know that you are making the angels smile.


November 15th, 2013
Seton Hall Law School

Newark – Over 125 law students and attorneys attended the first annual “Women Rule!” Conference on Friday, November 15th at Seton Hall University Law School in Newark, New Jersey. This program was aimed at encouraging women to aspire to leadership roles both in and out of the legal industry and included a panel of successful women leaders who spoke about what it takes to be successful, how they became leaders and the hurdles they faced along their journey.

Panelists included Paula A. Franzese, Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School, Mary Jane Cooper, former New Jersey Inspector General, Rosemary Alito, Partner at K&L Gates, The Honorable Katherine Sweeney Hayden, U.S. District Court Judge, The Honorable Marianne Espinosa, Superior Court Judge, Maryrose Maness, SVP Chief Employment & Corporate Counsel at Warner Music Group, and Jane Fontana, former Municipal Attorney.

The program’s Charitable Partner was Girl Rising, a grassroots global action campaign that supports girl’s education around the world. The program’s Corporate Sponsor was Herrick, Feinstein LLP.

NJWLA Winter Holiday Party
& Toy Drive

December 5th, 2013
Hosted By: Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer

Left to Right: Kirsten Scheurer Branigan, Cherie Adams & Wendy Johnson Lario

Left to Right: Brett Harris, Suzanne Cerra, Carmen Garcia, Derlys Gutierrez,Jacquelyn Suarez, Cherie Adams & Laurie Poulos

NJWLA Winter Holiday Party
& Toy Drive

January 23rd, 2014

NJWLA President, Suzanne Cerra, attended the NJSBA 12th Annual Minority Judges Reception on January 23rd.

Premier Event

7th Annual WILL Platinum Gala

March 25th, 2014
5:30 pm – 9:30 pm

The Grove
Cedar Grove, NJ


We are excited to announce that
Deborah Norville, Emmy Award winning television anchor and journalist, will deliver the keynote address at the NJWLA’s 7th Annual WILL Platinum Gala on March 25th. We are thrilled to have Ms. Norville present our address, where she will blend her research and personal experiences on women’s continued efforts to break down professional barriers. Ms. Norville will replace Lisa Ling, who is now unable to attend the Gala due to a last minute unforeseen professional obligation.

Upcoming Events

Attorney Roundtable:
Practice Management Tips

March 5th, 2014
8:30 am – 10:30 am

Park Avenue Club
Florham Park, NJ


“Lean In”

March 13th, 2014
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Park Avenue Club
Florham Park, NJ


Young Lawyers Division Presents:

Putting the “Fun” into Fundamentals of Networking

April 9th, 2014
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm


Nuts and Bolts of the Judicial and New Jersey State Appointments Process

April 16th, 2014
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Law Center
New Brunswick, NJ




“Fore Ladies Only”
Golf Outing and Clinic

June 5th, 2014
Cedar Hill Country Club
Livingston, NJ

Message from the President

Greetings and Happy 2014 to everyone!

As I write this message, we are preparing for yet another snow storm here in NJ. What a long winter it has been. Much more notable for me, however, is that I am now officially more than halfway through my term as President. Nothing could have prepared me for how rewarding this job would be and, though it can be demanding at times, it is truly one of the greatest privileges of my professional career. Not only am I lucky enough to work with the most incredible and committed group of women anyone could ask for, but we are all making a real difference in the lives of women lawyers every day. What job could be better?

It was great to see so many of you at the wonderful programs and events we hosted in the fall. We had two fabulous networking events; our sunny kick-off cocktail party at the shore and a beautiful holiday party generously hosted by the wonderful women of Wilentz. The Solo and Small Firm Committee launched its Forum series and our first event was a real success. The Young Lawyers Committee hosted a fabulous panel discussion at Lowenstein, where some of our more “seasoned” members shared their experiences and pearls of wisdom with our young lawyers. We also hosted our “Women Rule” program in November, which we co-sponsored with the Seton Hall Women’s Law Forum. It was a wonderful collaboration among the NJWLA (spearheaded by the Women’s Leadership Committee), Seton Hall Law School and Professor Paula Franzese – and generously sponsored by Herrick. We had over 150 attendees and the feedback has been spectacular.

Our Spring 2014 schedule of events also offers something for everyone. We will be hosting our “Lean In” program (based on Sheryl Sandberg’s acclaimed book), our second Solo/Small Firm Forum, a great panel on Judicial and Administrative Appointments (which we are co-hosting with the HBA of NJ), an engaging Marketing Program hosted by our Young Lawyers Committee, our ever popular Judicial Panel, and our 3rd Annual Ladies Only Golf Outing … not to mention our Gala. We have included the dates for all these programs in this edition of the Newsletter and I strongly encourage you to mark your calendars NOW!

I also am extremely excited to announce that our new NJWLA website has gone live! I encourage everyone to check it out. Not only has it been graphically redesigned to make our information much easier to access, but it contains a new feature that we are all very excited about, called Find a Lawyer. One of my goals this year was to implement tools that make it easier for us to refer business to each other. This new feature will allow you to identify NJWLA members by practice area so that we can all do a better job of helping our fellow members develop business. Please look for instructions in this Newsletter about how to report your practice area information so that we can make your information available.

I will close by saying a huge “THANK YOU” to our amazing Board Members, our Executive Director Colleen Skinner, and our Marketing Director Victoria Michals. It is their hard work, tireless dedication and passion that make our successes possible. Thanks also to our amazing members, who go out there every day and show the legal community exactly why women deserve all the things we are fighting for.


New Jersey Women Lawyers Association | 973-819-9488 | | http://www.njwla.org633 Franklin AvenuePMB #118Nutley, NJ 07110

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