Kelly Odorisi: Principal, Law Office of Kelly Odorisi


Who are you and what is your role?

I am the principal of the Law Office of Kelly Odorisi, P.C. in Rochester, New York and concentrate my practice in the areas of estates and trusts, primarily representing corporate fiduciaries in the settlement of complex trust issues. I also co-authored a CLE program, Candid Talk Women, with my colleague, Bernadette Catalana, to provide inspiration to other female attorneys by acknowledging the trials and tribulations of the practice of law and encouraging them to opt in.

From who or what do you draw inspiration as a leader?

I love to learn about other powerful leaders in the world and emulate their positive attributes. Books, seminars and social media sites, such as LinkedIn, provide a wonderful avenue to study different leaders in our society. I’ve also been privileged to experience weak leadership first-hand which has taught me attributes that I never wish to emulate!

What do you think are the most important leadership qualities in today’s world?

I believe that successful leaders in the world today need to check their egos at the door every single day. They need to have the presence of mind to truly listen to those individuals whom they lead and to act upon what they are hearing. It is imperative for successful leaders to be aware of any real or perceived bias or conflict in the workplace and to unify the groups/teams they lead without attempting to micromanage situations which diminish each individual’s unique strengths.

Would you care to share your greatest failure – and what you learned?

I believe my greatest failure has been my inability to have a proper voice regarding concerns or opinions that I was experiencing or issues I was facing. Sometimes lessons only can be learned once you leave a particular situation. I now know it is imperative to advocate for myself every single day, not just my clients.

What has been you most satisfying success as a leader?

Being able to manage others in a positive manner as opposed to instilling fear or insecurity, to delegate responsibilities within each person’s wheelhouse entrusting that he/she will fulfill responsibilities as part of the entire team effort and to deal with conflict in an even-tempered fashion in an attempt to rebuild any breakdown of communication. Building trust in the teams that I have led over the years has proven to be the key ingredient.

What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?

Complete your due diligence before you step foot into law school. It is imperative to enter into this profession with a true understanding of what the end game looks like. Even for those individuals who know they are passionate about the law, gaining knowledge about how one should actually utilize a law degree will pay off huge dividends in the end. It boils down to being true to yourself.

Do you think the leadership in law is ready for change?

I do believe there are indications that leadershipin the law actually is changing, but slowly and only on a case by case basis depending on the framework of the management’s philosophy. I believe there is an immense need for the legal profession to change its overall leadership ideals since it will continue to be difficult to attract and retain a diverse composition of attorneys necessary for firms to thrive in the future.

Is more – or different – leadership required? In what ways?

The old law firm mentally no longer fits the needs of the next generation of attorneys. To effect change, I believe different leadership is required to handle the changes in our profession. It is no longer a given that all associates wish to become partner, so there is a need to recognize and capitalize on each individual attorney’s strengths and to understand what will motivate them to advance to their highest potential.

How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?

Although I will readily admit that I often have fought technology in the legal profession over the years, I understand that it is critical for the advancement of our profession. In creating my own law firm, I could not function without enhanced technology and have come to appreciate it in ways I never thought possible.

Do you think professional ethics are challenged by so much change in the legal industry?

I do believe that upholding ethical behavior can be challenging, especially in law firms since there is more of an emphasis on dollars hitting the bottom line then ever before and changes regarding the manner in which clients are willing to pay for legal services. Law firms need to rethink the approach to billing and origination practices in order to provide a more unified model for all attorneys to succeed.