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Business women on the move

“When sleeping women wake, mountains move.”

This Chinese proverb was the final thought left with those attending the most recent “Legal Weapons for the Working Woman” seminar, sponsored by Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf, Cunningham & Coppola LLC. After attending this unique educational/networking initiative, I am convinced that this saying is much more than a beautiful phrase. It is truth.

The program was designed by Rupp Baase Partners Lisa Coppola and Johanna Healy and Associate Kimberly Georger as a tool to arm women leaders with legal advice and best practices for succeeding in business. Through its seminars, newsletters, and soon, its own website, Legal Weapons tackles topics such as the dos and don’ts of human resources, protecting personal and business assets and developing risk-management plans.

Coppola said Legal Weapons is about creating a discussion to provide women with the same valuable business information that men have long been exchanging with one another on the golf course.

Since its inception in 2010, Legal Weapons has grown immensely. At the seminar I attended last week, the banquet room at Acqua in Buffalo was filled with 80 women (and a smattering of men) from diverse career backgrounds. I spoke with insurance agents, yoga instructors, business coaches, saleswomen and even a psychic who all had something to glean from the evening. There were also women there like me, who did not own a business or oversee staff, but wanted to learn from an employee’s standpoint or just simply soak in the energy coursing throughout the room.

I must admit that when a friend asked me to attend Legal Weapons, I was somewhat reluctant. The last thing I wanted to do after work was more work. Yet the event was anything but tedious. Coppola and Georger led an interactive seminar that was both informative and humorous.

Yet it wasn’t until the networking portion of the evening that I was fully aware of the program’s potential. I witnessed women exchanging business cards over cocktails and good conversation. I watched a young entrepreneur with a mobile shoe store leave the event with new clients and bookings, as well as a security contact, should she decide to work at night. I overheard women give each other advice and encouragement as they discussed possible career changes. The air around us felt charged with potential.

In the dog-eat-dog world we live in, it was refreshing to see these inspired women willing to work together and help one another succeed.

And what do Coppola, Georger, Healy and the rest of Rupp Baase get out of the evening? The chance to know they are making a difference in these women’s lives and ultimately bettering our community. The $15 registration fee to attend Legal Weapons is donated to Girls on the Run of Buffalo, an after-school program that teaches girls self-respect and healthy living through running.

When I asked Coppola what drove her, Georger and Healy to put the endless time, effort and energy into the Legal Weapons program, she simply said, “If this region is successful, we’re successful.”

I hear the rumble of mountains moving.

For more information on Legal Weapons, including its next seminar on Dec. 6, visit

Catherine Colmerauer is a reporter for The Sun. She welcomes emails at


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2012-09-21 | 11:35:45
What a wonderful recap of your evening. I am sorry I wasnt able to attend but I will be sure to make Lisa's future events! Robin Wilson
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