A Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY)
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Interview of the Month

An Interview with Deborah Farber-Kaiser

Susan L. Pollet
Chair of the Archive and Historian Committee

Q: Why did you become a member of the Westchester Women’s Bar Association?

A: I come from a family of female lawyers, including my mother and both grandmothers, and decided to become a lawyer myself.  I returned to New York a few years ago and then took a leap professionally to work in finance.  While I work as a financial representative at Strategies for Wealth, I still have an interest in staying connected to the legal community.  This past winter, while preparing to attend the WWBA’s Annual Holiday Party, I learned from my Dad that his mother, Hon. Barbara Kaiser, was a founding member of the WWBA. Although he did not know the founders are called Founding Mothers, he clearly remembers his mother’s friend, respected colleague and fellow Founding Mother, Sandy (the Hon. Sondra M. Miller).  Amazingly, after this connection became known at the party, attendees sought me out to recount their experiences appearing before my Grandma.  She and I had a special connection because, like her, I had attended Wellesley College, where I had majored in Psychology.  Hearing the stories during the party, I got to know a side of her I had not personally known.  As I met members and learned more about the Association, I quickly realized that the WWBA is a wonderful organization of strong, intelligent, capable women supporting each other in their professional lives while promoting many causes important to women.  I feel a strong connection to the group and a powerful desire to participate in it.  I now hold two co-chair positions, on the Awards and Sponsorship Committees.  The Awards Committee allows our organization to highlight some of our members who go above and beyond.  It is empowering to help recognize women who are having a professional impact on the community.  Lastly, I am also a State Director, where I have the special opportunity to represent our group on a state level. It is quite the honor.  I know my grandmother would be proud of both me and how the WWBA has grown and evolved into what it is today.

Q: In which ways have you participated in the activities of the organization?

A: The WWBA has more activities than I originally realized, both legal and non-legal.  In addition to my roles as State Director and co-chair, I’ve enjoyed brown bag lunches, CLEs and educational programs as well as more social events like the Holiday Party and the Paint Night.  I love these programs as they are all opportunities to get to know amazing women.

Q: Please tell us about your legal career.

A: I attended Boston University School of Law with a concentration in health law.  After school I worked for a health-law non-profit, helping to appeal insurance denials and help clients to get out of medical debt.  I also worked for the in-house counsel for a hospital system.  I love that my legal education and experience informs how I think and interact with the world.  When working with clients, it was important to listen carefully, pay attention to detail, think quickly on my feet, address problems analytically to effectively manage challenging situations.  Now, I use the skills I honed during my legal career to help my clients achieve financial balance.  I am passionate about empowering my clients, and particularly women, to make smart, informed financial decisions.  This includes listening to my client’s concerns, helping them protect what they have, avoid threats and plan for a better future.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish professionally in the future?

A:  I understand the importance of financial security and want to continue to help others realize it.  Clients come to me with concerns about planning for retirement, paying for college for their children, paying off student loan debt or developing a business succession plan.  Using my legal training and financial knowledge, I work with them to develop comprehensive planning strategies tailored to their needs.

Q: Which activities are you involved in when you are not working?

A: Like most people, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I love to explore new places, learn new skills or try new foods.  On a given weekend, you can find me coaching CrossFit, taking in a show or grabbing a coffee.  My most memorable trips have been backpacking around China by myself and learning to surf in the Dominican Republic.  I am always looking for book recommendations, great movies to watch, a new recipe to cook and ideas for where to go on my next trip.

Q: How have you balanced your work and family life?

A:  I learned that maintaining balance is an active process that requires juggling priorities and knowing when to make small, or sometimes large, adjustments.  It is tough to achieve balance between work and family life, and it is surprisingly easy to focus too much on work or on taking care of others.  It is important to find an outlet that allows you to reconnect with yourself.  For me, working out and spending time with friends helps me clear my head.

Q: What advice do you have for women lawyers entering the legal profession?

A: I’m a great example that you cannot predict or anticipate every turn your career will take.  Take your disappointments as learning opportunities and grow past them.  Keep an open mind and pursue opportunities.  No matter what you choose to do, your legal education and experience help develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  Think about how your unique strengths can contribute to those around you and use them to help others.

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