Why hire me as a civil rights lawyer in New York City? Because, though I need to pay my overhead and win my fees, I care about social justice. I attended NYU School of Law, graduating in 1993, where my teachers imbued me with this ideal. I was a member of the NYU Law Review, selected on my legal writing ability.
I worked briefly in “BigLaw” – in the litigation department of one of the world’s biggest legal conglomerates. I am grateful for the experience, I needed more out of life, and frankly, from the law. Money is great, and it comes eventually. But I am not motivated by the dollar so much as cases that matter to me personally where someone has been abused by people and institutions in power. The money follows; the first paycheck is feeling justice.
My experience at the New York City civil rights law firm and then Legal Aid, along with my strengths as a writer made me an effective trial and appellate civil rights attorney in NY, gifted at the art of persuasion. I constantly keep my trial and appellate skills sharp, ready to help my clients battle when it is the right move to make. I’m a graduate of many of the programs sponsored by the Trial Lawyer’s College in DuBois, Wyoming, founded by the greatest living trial lawyer, Gerry Spence. I learned from him that I have to be myself to win in the courtroom. I have a strong record of success in court, which you can read about here. I have also attended several sessions of the National Employment Lawyer’s Association training programs, The National Criminal Defense College and The Harvard Program on Negotiation, where I got a certificate in Mediation.
The practice of law is mostly about settling disputes in New York City. Achieving this includes showing the other side that you are willing to go further if necessary. Sometimes it is better to settle a case than to risk a loss. Sometimes the opposite is true. One demands evidence to search for clues and assembles them in the manner of a story to tell to the judge and jury within the law (telling a story to a judge, of course, if different than telling one to a jury). Then if the case doesn’t settle at some point, someone is going to take an appeal in NY.
I learned appeals before I learned trials. I am filing papers in the Supreme Court in August 2018 to stop a difficult attorney and his client who won’t compromise. I expect the High Court to deny the attempt to take away my win, but I can predict nothing. Nevertheless along the way, I won the biggest case of my life, and changed the civil rights laws to make it illegal to fire gay employees in NYC. Zarda v. Altitude Express, 883 F.3d 100 (2d Cir. 2018) (en banc). I won the votes of ten out of thirteen judges before an assemblage of the entire appeals court of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. If I survive Supreme Court review, I won’t stop until I collect every dime to which my client is entitled.