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UB Law Alumni Honors Five Graduates and Administrative Judge Sharon Townsend at Annual Dinner

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: April 30, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Law Alumni Association will honor five UB graduates and Justice Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District, at the 47th annual UB Law Alumni Association meeting and dinner at 6 p.m. on May 5 in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

"We are fortunate at UB to have such remarkable alumni and friends. This is an exceptionally worthy group of recipients," said UB Law Alumni Association president Hon. E. Jeannette Ogden, Buffalo City Court judge. "Their leadership and accomplishments have contributed enormously to our law school, community and legal profession."

The five UB alumni will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards for their valuable contributions to the legal profession and community. The dinner also marks the end of the Law Alumni Association's membership drive for 2009-10. Alumni who have not renewed or joined the Association for this year are requested to send their $50 dues to the Alumni Office, 312 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. 14260.

Those to be honored at this year's dinner are:

Hon. Jeffrey S. White '70, United States District Court Judge, Northern District of California. White will be recognized for his "conscientious and diligent performance in the judiciary." Prior to his appointment to the bench, White was a partner in the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in San Francisco. He has previously served as special litigation counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, in Washington, D.C., and as assistant U.S. Attorney at the United States Attorney's Office in Baltimore, Md. He lives in Moraga, Calif.

Brent L. Wilson '76, partner in Elarbee, Thompson, Saap & Wilson, LLP in Atlanta, Ga. Wilson was praised, "for his leadership by example as a private practitioner." Wilson devotes his practice to defending employers in employment-related litigation matters as well as counseling employers regarding day-to-day employment decisions to avoid litigation. He works with a variety of employers nationwide, including communications companies, service providers, educational institutions, non-profit groups, public entities and manufacturing operations. He has been named one of America's Leading Black Lawyers by Black Enterprise Magazine, a member of Georgia's Legal Elite by Georgia Trend Magazine and one of Georgia's Top 100 Attorneys by Super Lawyers Magazine. He lives in Lithonia, Ga.

Elizabeth B. Mensch '79, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita, University at Buffalo Law School. Mensch won praise for "her commitment to public service." A teaching icon, Mensch began teaching in the UB Law School in 1980 and retired at the end of the 2007-08 academic year. During her Law School career, she taught torts, contracts, legal history and church/state relations. Mensch plans to spend her retirement working with secondary school students who become lost and neglected within the educational, social and legal system. She lives in Rhinebeck.

Lynn A. Clarke '83, principal court attorney, New York State Supreme Court. Clarke will be honored for "her many contributions to the betterment of our community." She is founder and annual chairperson of the Bar Association of Erie County's "Have-A-Heart" Food Drive to benefit the Food Bank of Western New York. She assisted in the establishment of the BAEC's Attorney Access, Inc., organized to promote the hiring of minority law students for clerking positions and minority lawyers for associate positions. She is past recipient of the BAEC's Special Service Award, the YWCA of Western New York's 2005 Leader Award, and is a past-president of the UB Law Alumni Association. Clarke lives in Orchard Park.

Anna Marie Cellino '81, president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation. Cellino will be recognized for "her exemplary performance in business." Cellino joined National Fuel in 1981 as an attorney. By 1991, she was promoted to senior management and was named assistant vice president in 1992. Cellino later became vice president of the utility and assistant secretary of National Fuel Gas Company before becoming president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation in 2008. Cellino is also the former chairman of the Niagara Health Quality Coalition. She lives in West Seneca.

Hon. Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge for the New York State Supreme Court, Eighth Judicial District. Townsend will be honored "for her outstanding service to the community by a non-alumna." She is the first woman to be named to this position in this district and the first Family Court judge in the state to be appointed administrative judge. Townsend is a recipient of the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York, Inc.'s 2008 Community Leader Award, the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee's 2007 Sandy Kulick Memorial Award, and she has been named one of the Outstanding Women in the Law by the Eighth Judicial District Women in the Courts Committee. She lives in Amherst.

For more information on the dinner, please contact the UB Law Alumni Office at (716) 645-2107 or e-mail law-alumni@buffalo.edu.