United States District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to become first woman to serve as Chief Judge of the Western District of New York

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK — On July 14, 2021, the Honorable Elizabeth A. Wolford will become Chief Judge of the Western District of New York.  Judge Wolford will be the first woman to serve in this role—and in fact, the first woman to serve in this role in any part of New York State outside the New York City area. 

Judge Wolford was nominated to be a United States District Judge by President Barack Obama, upon the recommendation of United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, on May 16, 2013.  She was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 12, 2013, and received her commission on December 17, 2013, becoming the first and only woman to serve as a district judge in the Western District of New York. 

Judge Wolford will serve a seven-year term as Chief Judge, replacing the Honorable Frank P. Geraci, Jr., who has served in this role since 2015. 

The United States Federal Courts are divided into 12 regional circuits. These circuits are further divided into 94 federal judicial districts with 94 chief judges overseeing each of these districts.  Judge Wolford will be leading one of 94 district courts across the country—the Western District of New York.

Judge Wolford was born in Buffalo, New York, and spent the majority of her life in Rochester, New York, which is fitting since the Western District of New York has two courthouses—one in Rochester and one in Buffalo.  The District was established by Congress on May 12, 1900, and it is comprised of 17 counties (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates).

Before assuming the bench, Judge Wolford practiced law for over twenty years with The Wolford Law Firm LLP—a boutique litigation firm founded by her father Michael R. Wolford, Esq.—where she concentrated in the areas of commercial and employment litigation.  Judge Wolford earned her B.A. from Colgate University in 1989, and her J.D. from Notre Dame Law School in 1992.  She served as Research and Projects Editor of the Notre Dame Law Review.

Judge Wolford is a past president of the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar (2010-2012) and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (“GRAWA”) (2003-2004).  In 2013, the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) recognized Judge Wolford with its Root/Stimson Award, and in 2002 she received NYSBA’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award.  She has also received numerous other recognitions for her contributions over the years to the community.  She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Monroe County Bar Association.

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