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Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC

Q&A WITH Elaine Colavito, President-Elect of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association

In addition to her family and matrimonial law practice and being a monthly contributor to the Suffolk Lawyer with her "Bench Briefs" column, Elaine Colavito will be installed as President-elect of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association on June 2017. In this interview, Elaine discusses her upcoming new role with the Nassau County Women's Bar Association and her ability to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

What is it like to soon be installed as the President-elect of the Nassau County Women's Bar Association?
It is an honor to be selected by my colleagues for this new position. I have been involved in the Nassau County Women's Bar Association for many years in various capacities. I have been able to see and participate in the good that it has done in promoting the advancement of women in law and women in general.

What does it mean to you to be part of this organization?
This organization means a lot to me and to the other women attorneys involved in the organization. We do many things to support one another, both professionally and personally. Participating in the various committees of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association is one way that we provide support for one another. For example, last year, at meetings of the Working Parents Committee, we discussed time management and work/life balance.

This year, I enjoyed serving as the association’s Vice President. I was first elected in 2012 as a member of the Board of Directors. The next year, I was elected as Treasurer. I served in this capacity for two terms. After that, I was elected as a Vice President. I am presently serving my second term as Vice President. In 2013, the association presented me with the Bessie Ray Geffner, Esq. Memorial Award for my interest in improving the justice system, professionalism of the bar and service to the community at large. It was a prestigious honor.

Through the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, I have also been involved in the community. During the 2016 election, each chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York was encouraged to run a voter registration drive. The Nassau drive was held in conjunction with the Nassau County League of Women Voters. The goal of the drive was to get more people involved in the political process. Statewide, we had more than 1,300 new people register to vote.

How do you balance your work and home life?
I have eight children, so, as one could imagine, juggling work and home life is a daily challenge. However, having a large family forces me to make the most efficient use of my time and to constantly prioritize and re-prioritize. I do this both at home and at work to keep me focused and to adequately manage my time.

During my undergraduate studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I gave birth to my first two children. I was expecting my third child (six months along) when I graduated. I was set to commence law school immediately thereafter. My third child was five days old at that time, however, I decided to defer law school for one year. During that year, I worked in a homeless shelter. I then returned to Touro Law School in the Fall of 2004. At that time, my children were four, two and one years old and I was expecting my fourth child. I subsequently gave birth to my fourth and fifth children during law school, while working part-time as a paralegal. Hence, juggling work, school and family was necessary and time management was essential to stay organized.

I gave birth to my sixth, seventh and eighth children while working full-time as an attorney. Again, time management and obtaining an optimal work/life balance is a daily challenge. Being an attorney, time management and organizational skills are key.

They say “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I truly believe this because, the more that I have to do, the more that I get accomplished and the more focused that I am.

What do your duties as family and matrimonial attorney entail?
In matrimonial matters, I counsel clients with regard to child support, maintenance, and equitable distribution, in addition to ancillary issues that arise in the context of divorce, both contested and uncontested.

In Family Court matters, I counsel and advise clients concerning custody and visitation rights, child support, child support enforcement and modification, paternity, and orders of protection.

I also negotiate and draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and represent clients in adoptions and guardianships.

What made you want to enter the field of family law?
With family law, I found it to be more relatable than with other practice areas, and one is able to see the impact of the representation on a client’s daily life.

How do you incorporate your own personal experiences as a mother when you are representing a client?
Running a household is no different than representing a client. In a court of law — just like in a house full of kids — you have to pick your battles!

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